URI’s 4th annual guitar festival guarantees exposure to sounds from all over the world

Inclusive programs aim to educate musicians of all abilities

KINGSTON, R.I.- March 21, 2019- The University of Rhode Island Department of Music, in collaboration with Pump House Music Works, will bring performers from Ireland, Greece, France and other European countries to the fourth annual URI Guitar Festival Friday, April 5 through 7. Ticket prices vary by event, all of which are open to the public.

In what festival director Adam Levin describes as the program’s breakthrough year, the 2018 festival was presented in collaboration with Pump House Music Works, 1464 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, R.I., in an effort to reach a wider audience and make use of its eclectic space. After last year’s great success, URI and the Pump House agreed to present the 2019 festival together.

2018 Guitar Festival
Attendees of the 2018 Guitar Festival listening to the sounds of guest artist Robert Bekkers at The Pump House Music Works. Photo courtesy of Adam Levin.

“The 2018 URI Guitar Festival was a huge success,” said Levin. “All of the concerts were sold out and the lectures were well attended. I look forward to making each year better than the last and this year, we welcome renowned artists from Ireland, Brazil, Greece, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Russia. This group of artists promises to be diverse and the best the field has to offer.”

Among the artists attending this year is Gaëlle Solal from France. Levin describes Solal, who he met studying in Siena, Italy, as a fabulous, vibrant, charismatic classical guitar soloist who will be part of the festival’s opening.

Another distinctive act in the 2019 festival is Redmond O’Toole, from Ireland, who was among the first to adopt a guitar technique for an eight-string guitar held in the position of a cello. O’Toole’s musical abilities offer extended range and new repertoire possibilities.

An interesting addition to this year’s festival is Clarice Assad, a young jazz pianist whose sound is so infused and a part of the guitar world that Levin said it felt natural to invite her. An accomplished jazz singer and composer, her performance will explore many different traditions.

One of the presenting groups in the 2019 festival is the Great Necks Guitar Trio comprised of Scott Borg, an Australian classical guitarist, Levin, a prize winning classical guitarist, and Matthew Rohde, a classical guitarist, educator and film composer. They promise a program of original orchestral arrangements specifically for three guitars.

Other artists include classical and flamenco guitar wizard Grisha Goryachev of Russia, preeminent guitarist Dimitris Kotronakis of Greece, Belgian guitarist Maarten Stragier, American guitarist David Veslocki, and winner of the 2018 Rising Stars competition An Tran, Vietnamese guitar virtuoso.

The Rising Stars Program invites classical guitarists ages 19 and older to participate in the Young Artist division while those ages 13 to 18 can participate in the High School Division. Participants should submit a live performance video of under 10 minutes with two contrasting works. Prizes, including a paid return visit to the 2020 festival and a new Kenny Hill Concert guitar, all valued at $4,400, will be awarded to the winner of the Young Artist division by a five-person jury panel. The High School division winner will receive a full scholarship and airfare to attend the 2020 festival plus two virtual guitar lessons with artists from 2019 lineup.

A number of orchestras and ensembles will be performing including the Connecticut Suzuki Academy led by David Veslocki, Providence Mandolin Orchestra led by Director Mark Davis, Boston Guitar Orchestra led by Director Robert Bekkers and l’Esperance Mandolin Ensemble led by Director Joshua Bell.

Among the lectures being offered during this year’s festival is a presentation by Dr. Regina Campbell, founder of Performing Arts Physical Therapy, who specializes in keeping musicians healthy amidst a life of countless hours of repetitive practicing and traveling. Attendees will also hear from sports psychologist Dr. Eric Zillmer on how to optimize energy in performance situations and how to control performance psychologically.

“The 2019 University of Rhode Island Guitar Festival offers the opportunity to hear some of the greatest musicians right here on campus at the Fine Arts Center and down the road at The Pump House Music Works,” said Levin. “It serves as a wonderful educational platform for any kind of student or aficionado. Everyone is welcome to learn from the minds of some of the most renowned artists and performers in the world.”

Active participation passes for the weekend include access to master classes, concerts, ensemble workshops and lectures and are available for $125.

A single-day auditors pass is $50 per day. A three-day auditor pass is $80.

Tickets to concerts are sold on a show-to-show basis and are $8 for students and $15 for general admission.

In addition to Pump House Music Works, other sponsors for this event include The Augustine Foundation, D’Addario Foundation, The University of Rhode Island Department of Music, Wakefield Music Services, Alhambra Guitars and Kenny Hill Guitars.

To learn more about the University of Rhode Island’s fourth annual Guitar Festival, to purchase concert tickets or to register as a participant, click here.

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.