Hamilton International Guitar Festival 2012
by Heather Morand Clark
The second annual
Hamilton International Guitar Festival took place in Hamilton Ontario from July
13 to 15, 2012. In only its second
year of existence in this industrial city on the shore of Lake Ontario, the Hamilton
Festival boasted registrations more than double the number from the previous
year. Students ranged in age from
teens to seniors, and came from the local area, as well as further away: Ottawa,
New Brunswick, Rochester and Cleveland.
Director Emma Rush was pleased with attendance at the concerts also,
having brought in performers Jorge Caballero, Shawn Pickup, Isaac Bustos, Gohar
Vardanyan, Kevin Manderville, and the
Laura Young/Frances Pappas duo that call themselves Lagrimosa
kicked things off with his concert at the MacNab Street Presbyterian Church, a different
venue being tried out this year.
Last year’s venue, the Hamilton Conservatory, was still the scene of all
lessons, lectures, the vendor fair, and the afternoon concerts.
concert began with a Bach Partita, and continued with five pieces by Isaac
Albeniz. After the intermission,
only one more piece, but what a long one!
Jorge is becoming well known for his performance this past year or so of
Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an
Exhibition arranged by Kazuhito Yamashita. Yamashita has not performed this in many years, and no other
guitarist has attempted it either, until Jorge took it on. This amazing piece of music is a
personal favourite, in both orchestral and piano versions, and now too on
guitar. Jorge’s phenomenal
technique is breathtaking to watch.
Listening to the orchestral version again afterwards, with its loud
brass and loads of percussion, after having heard it on guitar, one wonders how
it is that Jorge was able to convey everything from the original composition
without the feeling that there was anything missing! A masterful arrangement and stunning performance!
Shawn Pickup, who lived and studied in Germany for a number of years, was
featured in the Saturday afternoon concert. He performed music by Nuccio D’Angelo, Franz Schubert,
Joaquin Turina, and Alberto Ginastera.
The Ginastera Sonata for guitar ends with an energetic finale that pushes
both instrument and player to the limit.
The percussive nature of it is such that it is amazing that the guitar
concert was a double feature, with Isaac Bustos performing in the first half,
followed by Gohar Vardanyan of
Armenia. Isaac’s programme
included selections by Albeniz, two Sonatas by Scarlatti, Rodrigo and Giuliani. Gohar joked that she would not be
playing the same selections as Isaac, despite the printing error in the
programme stating that she would!
She played Introducción y Rondo, Op. 2, No. 2 by Dionisio
Aguado, Un Sueño en la Floresta by
Barrios, two Spanish pieces by Sainz de la Maza and Albéniz, Invocación y Danza by Joaquín Rodrigo,
and Fantasie Hongroise by Mertz.
The next concert,
Sunday afternoon, with Kevin Manderville, was the scene of a bit of comedy, as
after the first piece, Leo Brouwer’s Canticum,
there was a prolonged standing ovation.
Kevin joined in the humour, leaving the stage and coming back a couple
of times, feigning surprise at such adulation! He eventually continued with Suite in A minor by MM Ponce, Dos
piezas Afro-Antillanas, and the Suite
del Recuerdos by Jose Luis Merlin.
The final concert
of this year’s festival was by the duo of Frances Pappas(voice) and Laura Young(guitar). This wonderful combination was making a
return appearance in Hamilton, having performed for the Society in its first
year of existence. The
appreciative audience was treated to a variety of music by Bach, Kellner and
Dowland of the 16th and 17th centuries, through to such
contemporary composers as Carlo Domeniconi and Stefan Hakenberg.
festival, already in the planning stages, will feature, among others, David Leisner, a return appearance by Johannes Moller, along
with his wife and duo partner Laura Fraticelli and others, to be determined. The festival next year will also include a competition for the first
time. Two preliminary rounds will take place on Friday the 12th and
Saturday the 13th, and the finals will be a public concert on the evening of
Sunday July 14th. (Festival dates are July 12-14). More information will be available soon
on the Guitar Hamilton web site, www.guitarhamilton.com
or by email addressed to Emma Rush at email@example.com