Classical Guitar Weekend in Cleveland, May 21-23, 2010


Cleveland Institute of Music

♪This past weekend I traveled 236 miles into the heart of University Circle, where the Cleveland Institute of Music is located, to attend the tenth annual Classical Guitar Weekend. I was amidst four of the world’s finest classical guitarists and top Cleveland of Music guitar students. I attended master classes, presentations and concerts for the entire weekend while absorbing some of the areas interesting local attractions. Staying at the Glidden House, centrally located right next to the Cleveland Institute allowed me to walk to all the events and attractions, never having to start my car the entire weekend. It was very exciting to be around the plethora of students who were seriously studying guitar, and how enthusiastic they were about their playing!

The weekend started with a concert on Friday evening with Nigel North on lute playing selected pieces of John Dowland. Nigel’s playing was as sensitive as his teaching personality that I witnessed later in his master classes. He was very passionate about the “musicianship” in the music: listening to the music and being sensitive to how the composers would have wanted the music to be played.

Daniel Lippel, guitarist, and Tony Arnold, soprano, treated the audience on Saturday afternoon to a duet of guitar and vocals with music that I had never heard before. I especially liked the world premier of two Indian pieces called “Alap” and “Jhala” by composer V. Shende. The songs required in-performance tuning and retuning, and the placement of items on the strings to mimic Indian instruments like the sitar.


On Stage

Saturday evening, The duet of Duo Melis consisting of Spanish Guitarist, Susan Prieto and Greek Guitarist, Alexis Muzurakis impressed me with a guitar duet performance that I will never forget! I have never in my life of guitar, seen two guitarists in duet as responsive and connected as these two performers were. Even though there were two performers on stage, the impression received during each song, was that they played as “one instrument.” I was on the edge of my seat during the whole performance! Susan did something unique in performance that I have never seen before. She actually sat facing her partner instead of facing the audience, watching every move he made. The connectivity and sensitivity was astounding!

The final performance on Sunday afternoon with Jason Vieaux was worth the wait. His tone and caliber of playing is amazing! I had a chance to talk with his father during intermission. I asked him this question...”When Jason was growing up, did you ever think it would lead to this?” He said “absolutely not,” and “in the beginning we didn’t even know what the classical guitar was!” We would take him from Buffalo out to study and play in Rochester at the Hochstein School.” My favorite song of the evening was “Julia Florida” by Barrios. Jason’s sensitivity made the piece come alive as if it were Barrios himself there playing.


Jim & the Guitar of Many Colors

This was the first year of the Classical Guitar Weekend in which a guitar luthier gave a presentation. The great Italian master luthier, Andrea Tacchi, gave a lecture on the classical guitar and its origins through the present day. I was especially interested in meeting him, because the top of my guitar came from his workshop, harvested from the French Alps. I walked away from his lecture with a quote of his, “Knowledge is liquid—It takes the shape of the container that holds it.” And to sum up this weekend, this is the reason I take time out of my schedule to travel to educational events like this, to expose myself to great people, the movers and shakers of the art, to be constantly uplifted and motivated in my personal musical journey. I would highly recommend to anyone to go to this Weekend, or similar events.

Article & Photos: Jim Doyle

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