The Guitar Foundation of America inspires artistry, builds community, and promotes the classical guitar internationally through excellence in performance, literature, education and research.
The GFA has been committed to the classical guitar community as the pre-eminent non-profit organization dedicated to our instrument in the country since its inception. The GFA was formed in 1973 at the National Guitar Convention sponsored by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). It has, since the 1970's, published a quarterly journal, Soundboard; established a large archive of scores, books and manuscripts; hosted annual international festivals; commissioned composers of the guitar; since 1982 held the annual GFA International Guitar Competition which has grown to be one of the most prestigious in the world; and organized the annual GFA winner’s concert tour currently comprised of approximately 50 concerts around the country.
The GFA has a membership of approximately 3,000 mostly professional classical guitarists, students and teachers primarily in the U.S. and Canada but also around the world. They represent some of the most influential members of our classical guitar community. They are linked by the Soundboard magazine and GFA website, their participation in the annual convention, and their association with the prestigious competition and tour.
Summary of Major Programs
The Guitar Foundation of America, in pursuing its goals, provides many services to its members and to the broader guitar community. Among these are:
SOUNDBOARD - This is the journal of the GFA. It was first issued in February 1974, as an 8-page newsletter. It disseminates information on technique, repertoire, scholarly work, publications, curricula, and activities relating to classic guitar. It also provides a central clearinghouse for discussion of ideas and exchange of information among guitarists throughout the world. Now approximately 96 pages per issue and published quarterly since 1974, it has become a highly valued resource for professionals and amateurs alike. We have recently implemented a major redesign of the magazine, attempting to modernize and unify the look of the publication. We are also engaging additional personnel to expand the number of reviews we print, and to expand the content offerings for amateur players, while maintaining the high quality of more scholarly articles we have historically printed.
ARCHIVES – The collection was also established in 1974 to accumulate and make available scores, books, manuscripts and other materials for scholars, performers, teachers and students. Now an important source of original materials, it contains many first editions and complete collections of the works of early guitar composers. In April, 2007 we received a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which has enabled us to digitize much of the holdings, update the website, overhaul the Internet access to the archives, attract new significant donations of materials, and truly make this one of the most extensive and accessible holdings of classical guitar music in the world. One recent donation of considerable significance is the collection of the John Duarte archive, The new John Duarte collection includes the comprehensive holdings found in the personal library belonging to one of the most influential guitar pedagogues and composers of the twentieth century.
FACSIMILES - In Soundboard, and as separate editions, GFA has published facsimiles of early works of interest to guitarists. Many of these are not available elsewhere.
CONTEMPORARY GUITAR MUSIC PUBLICATION - Begun in 1980, this service made available facsimile manuscript copies of works selected from those submitted. It was revised in 1988 to publish works of unusual interest in Soundboard.
ANNUAL CONVENTION - GFA has sponsored (or co-sponsored) conventions for guitarists since 1979. These have been presented annually, except for 1981 and 1984, when GFA cooperated with Guitar '81 and Guitar '84 in Toronto, Ontario. Beginning as small gatherings, these have grown into major international events, drawing guitarists from many countries.
GUITAR FOUNDATION OF AMERICA HALL OF FAME - The Guitar Foundation of America Hall of Fame was created in 2008 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the GFA and the world of classical guitar throughout their careers.
COMPETITIONS - To assist guitarists on the verge of major careers, GFA has organized international competitions since 1982. The winners have been some of the leading young guitarists, and the GFA Competition has been very helpful to them in launching their performing careers with GFA-organized recital tours.
COMMISSIONS TO COMPOSERS - One of the most valuable efforts of GFA is the expansion of the available repertoire through commissioning substantial works by outstanding composers.
EDUCATION INITIATIVE – This project was launched in 2003 with the formation of the Education Committee as a standing part of the organization. The charge of this group is seen as a critical element in the vitality, impact and longevity of the organization and its mission.
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA - GFA holds 3 to 4 Regional Symposia each year in different cities across the US. Each symposium is a one day event including performance auditions, symposium guitar orchestra, college guitar ensemble showcase, technique workshops, and an evening concert. All events are free to GFA members and help to form a rich, vibrant musical community in the selected region.