Portland Guitar Festival
all-festival pass – $125, event prices – free-$40
The guitar is more popular than any other instrument in the world, and the best of the best are coming to Portland this Thursday, March 8. Hundreds of classical guitar players and their fans will gather for a three-day festival hosted by the Portland State Department of Music.
Master classes, workshops, performances and solo competitions will be conducted by one dozen internationally acclaimed guitarists. Returning for its 11th year, the festival is guaranteed to be a success.
“For many of us guitarists, the festival is a wonderful thing. It’s like a convention where we can all meet and catch up with one another once a year,” said Bryan Johanson, the festival director. “The festival is an opportunity for the community to hear some of the world’s most accomplished guitarists, and hear 400 years of repertoire for the instrument.”
The festival will keep everyone busy for three days. Thursday night at 8 p.m., Scott Tennant will impress crowds in Lincoln Hall. He is an award-winning soloist and a founding member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. He is well known for a best-selling book and the video series “Pumping Nylon.” At home, his time is devoted to teaching at USC’s Thorton School of Music. Ticket prices range from $15-40. Tennant returns Friday morning to teach a master guitar class in Lincoln Hall room 301 at 9 a.m. This class requires a fee of $40.
At noon, Hamilton Cheifetz and Bryan Johanson liven the festival with another concert. Ticket prices range from $5-10 as the duo performs works from their CD Affinity on the Gagliano Label.
Cheifetz has been a cellist in the Florestan Trio and a professor at PSU since 1977. His playing has been described as “elegant, lyrical playing,” and “absolutely brilliant.”
The solo guitar competition attracts some of the finest guitar students from around the nation. At 2 p.m. the semifinal round features those contestants who have proven themselves in an earlier elimination round. Only four will continue to the competition finals. The event is free to the public.
Just interested in seeing the finest guitars made in Portland? At 6:30 p.m. the Lincoln Hall Lobby will be an arena of awesome instruments from right here in the Pacific Northwest. Everyone is encouraged to see these beauties at no cost.
The third concert will feature Catherine King, a mezzo soprano, with Jacob Heringman accompanying on vihuela and guitar, as they perform works of the renaissance and early baroque periods. The duo has made numerous recordings, toured Europe, and taken to the airways on the BBC and Germany’s WDR. Don’t miss this concert at 8:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Performance Hall with a price between $10 and $15. There will be no rest for these performers, as their “Early Music Performance Workshop” is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday morning in Lincoln Hall 301.
At 12 p.m. Michael Videon will take to the stage. He is currently on the staff at Montana State University in Bozeman. He holds his Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance from the University of Minnesota where he studied with Jeffrey Van. Michael Kudrika and Eric Benzant-Feldra follow his performance at 2 p.m. Michael won the solo guitarist competition last year and Eric finished second. The duo will be making their debut performance. Both concerts are priced between $5 and $10.
An hour later this year’s winner will be chosen in the Guitar Finalists’ Competition. The four semifinalists will each play a 20-minute program for the jury and audience, with announcement of the winner to follow.
The closing concert will feature the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. Founded in 1986, they are one of the nation’s best guitar ensembles. This is supported by the international acclaim for the ensemble’s recordings. They have performed on both “Saint Paul Sunday” and “Performance Today”. This event will be held in Lincoln Hall 75, admission is $10-15.
Bryan Johanson is the creative willpower that has organized the event since its start 10 years ago. In addition to this, he founded Portland State’s guitar studies program and is also an award-winning composer. His inspiration comes from poets such as Sappho and Samuel Beckett, medieval physiology, ancient Roman history and, of course, his own experiences. His sources served him well. The evidence being numerous awards from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Kennedy Center, UCLA and Estergom International Guitar Festival.
Johanson has amassed more than 80 compositions including three symphonies, concertos for violin, numerous chamber works and song cycles.
The Guitar Festival is not something to miss. A $125 all-festival pass is available for fans that plan on attending all the events. It isn’t hard to add the math and realize that this festival is Portland’s chance to hear the best classic guitarists in the world. Sold out performances were common last year, so don’t be late.