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Regional Symposium hosted by Scott Cmiel and the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, 555 Portola Drive, San Francisco

When: 11/4/2012
Where: Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts
555 Portola Drive
San Francisco, California  94131
United States
Contact: Galen Wixson

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Advanced registration for the San Francisco Symposium is closed.  Onsite registration will begin at 9am on Sunday morning. 


Sunday, November 4, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.

with workshops led by Sergio Assad and Peppino D'Agostino

Hosted By Scott Cmiel and the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts

555 Portola Drive, San Francisco, CA 94131

Featuring the World Premiere of Gladwell for 100 Guitars for guitar orchestra, written by Brendon Randall-Myers, and conducted by David Tanenbaum


Teachers, students, aficionados, young players, mature players – there’s a spot for you at the San Francisco  Regional Symposium!


  • Juried Recital - Compete for a chance to perform solo in the Evening Showcase Concert (see guidelines below).
  • Symposium Guitar Orchestra for all participants, led by David Tanenbaum.  The Guitar Orchestra will prepare and perform the World Premiere of Gladwell for 100 Guitars, written by Brendon Randall-Myers.
  • College Guitar Ensemble Showcase - Hear some of the top college guitar chamber ensembles in the nation.
  • Interactive Workshops with Sergio Assad and and Peppino D'Agostino
  • Vendor Expo  Luthiers and vendors are invited to register for the symposium and display their goods in the lobby from 10am-6pm on the day of the event.  Registration is required, but no additional fee will be charged.  Interested vendors must additionally send a request to to reserve a table.
  • Evening Concert - featuring selected performers and the Symposium Guitar Orchestra.
  • All events are FREE for GFA members. Advanced registration is required for daytime events. If you are not a GFA member: Join GFA by clicking here, then return to this page to register for the Symposium.

Download the Flyer! 

Schedule for the day:

10am-12pm: Juried Recitals

10:00am-10:50am Workshop with Sergio Assad

11:00am-11:50am Workshop with Peppino D'Agostino

12:30-2:00pm: College Ensemble Showcase

2:30-5:30pm: Guitar Orchestra Rehearsal

7:00-8:15pm: Evening Concert, Featuring Guitar Orchestra and Winners of the Juried Recitals 

GFA Regional Symposium Juried Recital Information

Registration Deadline: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Juried Recital Guidelines: 

The following time limits are all inclusive, including any time between pieces, if applicable:

10 and Under: 3 minutes

11-14: 5 minutes

15-18: 10 minutes

Pre-College Ensembles: 5 minutes

College/Pre-Professional: 10 minutes

Adult Amateur (Solo or in Ensemble): 5 minutes

You need not fill the entire time provided, this is a maximum performance time.  This is especially true for younger students.  We encourage you to participate even if you only have one short piece ready- this is about enjoying the experience!  Repertoire played in the morning Juried Recital is eligible to be selected for performance on the evening Showcase Concert.  As far as suitability of repertoire, we encourage you to select what you feel represents you best, in consultation with your private teacher.  There are no specific requirements.

Important On Site Details For All Divisions:

The Juried Recital schedule will be provided one week prior to the Symposium via email.  Please check in at the registration table no later than 30 minutes prior to your performance time, even if you’re on site earlier.  This is important, so we know where to find you when it’s your time to play.  At this time, we’ll also have you complete a basic form with your name and program information, in the event that you are selected to perform on the evening concert.  You’ll then be taken to a warm up room, which may or may not be private, depending on how many people we have there at the moment.  Late arrivals may not be accommodated as the schedule is full.  Please be on time! 

The Juried Recital will be held open to the public, and run like a recital.  This is designed to keep the pressure a bit lighter, and to allow teachers and parents to observe.  Applause will be permitted and encouraged at the end of your set, but not in between pieces (if applicable).  All performance times are approximate, you should be ready to go up to 10 minutes ahead of your scheduled time in case we run ahead.  Performers are encouraged to listen to the others play on the Juried Recitals. Warm up rooms will be provided and it is fine to leave a recital when it's time for your warm up.

An appropriate chair and low music stand will be provided, though players are welcome to bring their own chair if that helps with height requirements.  All players should bring their own footstool/guitar support.  One parent/guardian/teacher may assist these young students in setting up as they enter, and in carrying things out as they exit.  If using a stand, please be sure that it is placed slightly to the left side of the player, so as not to block the view of the judges, as they will be trying to write feedback for each student, and seeing the hands is important.  You do not need to provide copies of the scores for the jury; and playing from memory is optional.  Finally, we would like to request that each student introduce him/herself to the jury, and introduce the titles of the pieces they will play.  We recommend that you talk with your teachers about this, and the general format of the day, in advance to make sure that all students feel comfortable with what will be expected of them that morning. 

Students may choose to watch the entire recital, or to stay in the warm up room and come in right before they play.  Just be sure the monitor knows where you are to avoid delays in the program.  Parents/teachers may watch the entire program, or enter/exit quietly in between players.  Please, no young children in the room- we want to allow these young students the best chance for feeling focused.

The jury will select one student from each age division to perform on the evening concert.  The announcement will be made at the conclusion of the College Ensemble Showcase Concert.  Written feedback can be picked up in the concert hall lobby immediately following the announcement.

Workshop with Peppino D'Agostino

Prominent living composers like John Adams and Terry Riley have incorporated steel string guitars into their works.  John Adam's major orchestral pieces, El Nino and Naive and Sentimental Music used steel instead of the much more common classical guitar. John Adams accurately heard that the steel string guitar would project more clearly through his busy orchestral textures.The steel string plays a crucial role in Terry Riley’s "Y Bolanzero” recently recorded by the Pacific Guitar Ensemble on their debut CD entitled "Begin”, adding a welcome contrast and sustain to the classical guitar texture.

In the Classic Steel cd with David Tanenbaum, Peppino’s steel string has a distinctive sparkly  flavor and a long sustain which is reminiscent of the Baroque harpsichord. David’s nylon string guitar has a warm and rich tone as well as a fuller bass presence that is perfect for the melodic lines and elaborate ornamentations.  These contrasting qualities are clearly displayed on the Concerto in D major by Vivaldi recorded on their CD "Classic/Steel.

The distant planets of Steel String and Classical Nylon guitars are getting closer and comfortably gravitating towards each other. Steel string guitarists such as John Renbourn and Leo Kottke have performed arrangements of classical music. Classical guitarists have been effectively creating a non-Spanish repertoire at least since the 1950's. Guitarists like Ben Verdery and Andrew York have very effectively brought the unmistakable sound of popular culture to the classical guitar.  Thanks to the efforts of classical players such as David Tanenbaum and Manuel Barrueco, and steel string players such as Al Di Meola and Peppino D’Agostino, we can enjoy collaborations that are creative, and musically intriguing.

* Note: Thanks to David Tanenbaum and Scott CMiel for their help with editing and for providing precious information.

Steel String Guitar Workshop by Peppino D’Agostino

The steel string guitar is one of the most popular and versatile instruments available. In this workshop Peppino will explain with musical examples and original arrangements the different musical styles, techniques, and rhythms available on steel string guitar from various cultures. We will explore the qualities that steel string guitars offer to classical composers:

-sustain and string bending that is greater than nylon string guitars 

-percussive and slide techniques

-complex open tunings that are more readily available because steel strings tune up much quicker

-acoustic sound effects and bent harmonics makes the steel string guitar a real favorite instrument of choice.

-the unmistakable sound of popular culture

-the absence of a Spanish heritage

- sustain and quick response that can cut through ensemble and orchestral textures.

The challenges in composing for steel string guitar are multiple and perhaps difficult to overcome. The general tendency is to either relax into predictable musical ground or to showcase speed. The most talented steel string composers create beautiful melodies supported by

intelligent harmonies and powerful grooves. The steel string guitar should be approached as an orchestra with infinite possibilities.

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