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Artistic Director, GFA International Youth Competition: Risa Carlson received her Graduate Performance Diploma, Master's Degree, and Bachelor's Degree from the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Manuel Barrueco. In addition to her many competition successes, she was a top prizewinner at the 2000 Guitar Foundation of America International Competition. Risa has performed in solo and chamber ensemble across the United States, and currently performs regularly as a member of the acclaimed Duo Erato with guitarist Martha Masters. Risa teaches at the Levine School of Music in Washington D.C., where she is also Chair of the Guitar Department. Risa became Artistic Director of the GFA International Youth Competition in Fall 2009.

Education Director: Matthew Denman is the Director of the Celedonio Romero Guitar Institute and Assistant Professor of Music for Southern Nazarene University.  Pepe Romero has said, "What José Antonio Abreu is to El Sistema, Matt Denman is to the Celedonio Romero Guitar Institute."  Matthew is also faculty for Classen School of Advanced Studies where he teaches music theory, international baccalaureate music, and the national award winning guitar program.  Awards include the Images of Excellence Award (2012, 2010, 2009), and Teacher of the Year (2010-2011 Classen SAS).  Matthew has been a guest lecturer, clinician, and performer throughout the United States.  Matthew is a student of Pepe Romero.

Publications Art Director & GFA Advertising Manager: Kim Kanoy received her bachelor’s degree, graduating cum laude, in Art History from Salem College (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and holds an Associates Degree in Commercial Art and Advertising Design. Her role as owner and creative director of Kanoy Design has encompassed many areas in the field of graphic arts–design, production, sales, writing, editing, and publishing. She designs and produces GFA’s collateral materials and has designed the GFA Convention Programs since 2005. Kim became the Art Director of Soundboard in 2013. Her connection to the classical guitar world came about through her love of music and the years of attending youth competitions with her son, William. She joined the GFA staff as Advertising Manager in 2005. 

Executive Director: Galen Wixson holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in cello performance from Wichita State University, and a second Master's degree in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University. His music career includes performing as a cellist in many different ensembles, including the Wichita Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Fairfax Symphony, and the Reno Chamber Orchestra. His non-profit management career includes Executive Director positions at the American String Teachers Association, the Reno Philharmonic, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, the Arkansas Symphony, and the Austin Symphony. He assumed the Executive Director position at the GFA in June 2010.

Regional Symposiums Director: Lynn McGrath is a member of the guitar faculty at the Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2006 from the University of Southern California, where she studied with William Kanengiser, Pepe Romero, and James Smith. Lynn has performed as a soloist and ensemble member in the United States, Mexico, and Italy with upcoming performances in Spain and Montenegro. Lynn served GFA previously in the role of Tour Director, and became Regional Symposiums Director in August of 2013.

 Soundboard Editor: Dr. Kim Perlak is a performer, educator, and American music scholar living in Austin, TX.  Kim received her Bachelor of Music studying guitar with Stephen Robinson at Stetson University, her Master of Music at Yale School of Music with Benjamin Verdery, and her DMA at the University of Texas at Austin with Adam Holzman. Her performances, concerts for charity, and academic work have been featured on NPR and funded by grants through Yale Alumni Ventures and The Carolina Institute for Leadership and Engagement in Music. Kim serves on the faculty of Concordia University-TX, Austin Community College, and the National Guitar Workshop. Kim began working for GFA in 2012.

 United Kingdom Tour Director: Helen Sanderson studied guitar at the Royal College of Music with Charles Ramirez, where she received her graduate degree and postgraduate performance diploma. As a member of the VIDA Guitar Quartet she has performed at major U.K. venues including King’s Place (London), The Sage Gateshead and St George’s (Bristol) and in 2011, Helen made her U.S. debut in Los Angeles (LMU Guitar Festival) and New York (Baruch Performing Arts Centre). Helen is the founder and director of the World Youth Guitar Festival, Europe’s largest residential festival for young classical guitarists, Winchester Guitar Festival, and GUITAR CIRCUS, a monthly ensemble training scheme. 

Director of Communications and Touring: Connie Sheu earned her Bachelor of Arts in U.S. History and Music from Columbia University with Antigoni Goni and her Master of Music from The Juilliard School with Sharon Isbin. Connie is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Southern California under Bill Kanengiser. Her playing has been hailed by the New York Sun as "excellent, ruminative... scholarly." Past performances and teaching engagements have taken her from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, to Florida, Oklahoma, Moldova, Hungary, and throughout California. Her debut solo album was released in 2008. Connie teaches privately and at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. She joined the GFA staff in 2009.

Soundboard Scholarly Editor: Robert Trent has performed on the continents of North and South America and in Europe. He has been a first prize winner in numerous national and international competitions. He is frequently sought after for instructing masterclasses, for performances and to be an adjudicator of competitions. The first recipient of the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in guitar from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Trent is Professor of Music and Director of Guitar and Renaissance Lute studies at the College of Visual and Performing Arts of Radford University. Dr. Trent became the Editor-in-Chief for Soundboard Scholar in 2013.

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