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Lecture: Mariette Stephenson

Guitar Orchestras: Contributions by Women to Guitar Orchestra

Mariette Stephenson


Guitar orchestras were at their height of popularity in the late 1800's and early 1900's in Europe, South America and North America, and played an important role in the promotion of the suffragette movement. Although the popularity of this ensemble type declined after WW1, they have seen a strong resurgence within the past 20 years. Many influential women in the guitar world, including Madame Sydney Pratton and Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, played crucial roles in the development of guitar orchestras. That continues to this day with composers such as the internationally renown Dutch composer Annette Kruisbrink writing works for this ensemble format and music directors like Dr. Kami Rowan (Music Director for the US Guitar Orchestra, Associate Professor of Music at Guilford College) leading acclaimed large guitar ensembles.

This presentation will discuss the history of European and North American guitar orchestras, their support of women in music, and recent contributions by female composers and music directors. It will include video excerpts from interviews with Annette Kruisbrink and Dr. Kami Rowan. This presentation is of use to guitar educators, music directors of large guitar ensembles, guitar historians and the guitar community.



Mariette Stephenson is a Canadian classical guitarist who has performed in numerous recitals as a soloist and chamber musician. She has premiered works by William Beauvais, Patrick Power, Boyd McDonald, Glenn Buhr, Ivana Jokic, Andrzej Tereskowski, Alfred Kunz, and Jonatas Batista-Neto. Performances include recitals for the Guitar Society of Brantford, Guitar Society of Toronto and the Organix Festival.

Chamber music collaborations include performances with sopranos Katalin Puscas and Brooke Dufton, Stephanie Pesant (flute), Bonchiku Hoshi (shakuhachi), Tom Fitches (organ). As Duo Calixa with Kelly Williamson (flute), Mariette recorded the acclaimed CD Caminos. She is currently a member of the Ekleipsis Guitar Trio (with Lukas Bouda, Andrew Laughton), which will premiere new works for guitar trio by Ivana Jokic, Andrzej Tereskowski, and Morgan Lovell in 2020.

Mariette Stephenson studied with Dr. Jeffrey McFadden, having received her B.Mus from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario and her ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She earned a Masters of Music (performance) from the University of Toronto. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Eli Kassner Guitar Scholarship, a University of Toronto Fellowship, and Bernice Adams Memorial Bursaries. Mariette is Music Director for the Kitchener/Waterloo Guitar Orchestra and has presented lectures on the history of guitar orchestras. Her arrangements for guitar are available exclusively at Strings By Mail.







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