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The 9th New York Guitar Seminar was held this summer at Mannes College. The theme of the event this year was called “The New World: Guitar in the Americas.” It took place July 8-12 in the charming Upper West Side of Manhattan where ensemble coachings were offered in the mornings, master classes and lecture-demonstrations in the afternoons, and concerts by guest artists were given in the evenings. This event featured many internationally acclaimed performers and composers from the entire American continent.

The seminar featured amazing ensemble concerts, using the guitar in combination with other instruments, and also some fantastic soloists. The first concert showcased the Newman and Oltman Guitar Duo, who gave an unforgettable performance of some exquisite contemporary music by Leo Brouwer and Roberto Sierra. Argentine Pablo Cohen (guitar) and Daniel Binelli (bandoneon) joined the duo to close the first half of the concert with a tango number. In the second half of the program, Cohen and Binelli transported the audience to their native Argentina with a passionate tango concert that also included three Brazilian pieces. There were many other concerts taking place throughout the week. Ars Duo (guitar and violin) succeeded in blending a program with repertoire from almost every South American country. Duo Cantabile, featuring Lauri (voice) and Mariano Aguirre (guitar), delighted their audience with refreshing interpretations of the music by Copland, Granados, Ponce and others. The unusual combination of guitar, bandola and tiple was appreciated by the Colombian Tibagui Trio, and the Brazil Guitar Duo closed the concert series with a fantastic display of virtuosity with hypnotizing rhythms of contemporary Brazilian music.

Among the solo concerts of the seminar, was Fabio Zanon’s, who reminded us why he was one of the crowd’s favorites whose interpretations of Villa-lobos and Mignone’s Etudes where among the most memorable. Eduardo Fernandez concert was another seminar highlight, giving listeners an unforgettable interpretation of Bach’s Suite BWV 995, Giuliani’s Rossiniana no.4 Op.122 and Ginastera’s Sonata Op.47.

A captivating series of lecture-demonstrations brought to the attention many interesting aspects of the history, development and characteristics of the traditional music and guitar styles of Mexico, Cuba and Argentina. “Guitar in Mexico” was presented by Michael Lorimer, who gave a thorough overview of the baroque guitar music of Santiago de Murcia and the contemporary music of Ernesto Garcia de Leon. Rene Izquierdo gave an amazing lecture/performance of the traditional music of his native Cuba from 1820 through today. Argentine guitarist, Pedro Baez, gave an enchanting demonstration of the rural influences on the music of Argentina’s pampas. Joel Lester, Dean of Mannes College of Music, discussed J.S. Bach’s famous Chaconne, a dance that traveled with the Spanish from Peru to Europe.

Included in the seminar, were master classes given by most of the performers mentioned above, in which participants and auditors were able to attend. Master classes invited participants from all levels, ages and backgrounds. This is a well organized event, combining professionalism and the highest level of instruction with an easy going atmosphere. As a participant, I highly recommend the New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes College to all guitarists, musicians and music lovers.