Starting Friday April 5, the 12th Annual International Guitar Festival kicked off at Radford University. The weekend long musical milestone was held in the Covington Center for visual and performing arts. The theme of this year’s celebration was based on the importance of Spain and Italy. Because the earliest and most music today is written by Spanish and Italian composures.
Well-known artists from around the world came to represent different countries. Stefano Raponi, (Italy) is currently the artistic director of the Festival of Guitar,”Caroso FESTIVAL” in Sermoneta, Rome. Leonardo Martin Candelaria (Mexico) a soloist who presents concerts at guitar festivals in Mexico and also offers master classes at major universities. Guilherme Vincens (Brazil) winner of 12 awards through international guitar competitions has also recently released his album “Portrait.” Pablo Gamez (Venezuela) debuted with the Maracaibo Symphony Orchestra and is a professor of Guitar Classical Music Conservatory.
Together representing different parts of the world, they performed numerous pieces throughout the weekend that showcased their countries specifically. Executing local talent from Roanoke, a Youth and Community Guitar Orchestra of about fifty people, ranged from children at age five to adults and a mix of university students. Another concert performed on Saturday, April 6 included Radford University Alumni Ryan Book and Michael Havens.
Aside from regular concerts, the guitar artists held master class sessions that worked specifically with RU students for a one-on-one critique.
Director of Guitar and Renaissance Lute studies, Dr. Robert Trent believes this session is beneficial to students and gives them outside advice.
“I gave them two weeks performing in front of each other and me to see whose ready and has something to play. They could learn any piece but because it’s a public function, I want to make sure they really have the piece down pretty well and they’re going to learn nuances and details from the master teacher,” said Trent.
During the master class with Candelaria, he worked with freshman Ashley Walker, freshman Shane Johnson and senior Sydne Rankins. Each student played a piece for Candelaria and afterwards he gave them advice on how to improve. Whether it be their stature, hand placement or regulating the guitarists’ tempo, Candelaria spent at least fifteen minutes with each student.
“Nobody was born to be a guitar soloist,” Candelaria said. Reflecting on his teachings, he explained that instructing students on how to move their hand is taught right away during his first class. For Walker he worked closely on her hand placement.
During Johnson’s session, Candelaria explained the importance of letting music breathe.
‘If the music doesn’t breathe, you kill it,” said Candelaria. He also gave Johnson pointers on how to synchronize breathing with singing and not to always focus on the technical aspects.
Rankins was urged to use more of the flesh of her thumbs to help with strumming. Candelaria also gave advice to regulate her tempo and form.
Other RU students were able to participate in master classes taught by other artists Saturday and Sunday. Receiving outside perspectives can help students further their skills and enhance diversity.