Classical guitarist Marina Alexandra has participated in competitions and festivals for the instrument around the world. In 2012, she brought her own classical guitar festival to Columbia to bring the little-known instrument out of the shadow of its acoustic and electric counterparts.
“Classical guitar is a very unique instrument, still not known to many. Everybody knows musicians from the pop culture, but so few are familiar with classically trained, amazing guitar players who can play anything from jazz to classical,” Alexandra said. “ A festival and competition seems to be an ideal combination for inspiring guitar students of all ages and an opportunity to display to the general audience some of the best guitar virtuosos in the world.”
From Friday, June 5, to Sunday, June 7, classical guitarists from Columbia and around the world will compete, participate in master classes, give lectures and perform concerts. Featured artists come from as close as Florida and as far as Brazil and Finland, playing works ranging from flamenco to contemporary. While the festival is centered on classical guitar, performances will be accompanied by singers and other instruments.
“The festival is designed to bond all music lovers. We will feature classical, Latin American, flamenco, jazz and even some blues music,” Alexandra said. “Southern Guitar Festival will showcase some truly unique instrument combinations, such as flute, double bass, drums, voice and, of course, there will be lots and lots of guitars.”
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The festival’s featured artists are the Galestro-Smith Duo, Andre Machado, the Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio and Otto Tolonen. Instructors who will lead participants in master classes and lectures include Alexandra, Grammy-nominated guitarist Marc Regnier and University of South Carolina Support to Promote Research and Creativity fellow Alma Sehic.
The competition portion of the festival is open to musicians 6 years old and up; there are three solo performance divisions based on age, as well as an ensemble division for groups of musicians older than 18. Competition is key in developing as a performer, Alexandra said.
“Competition often becomes an essential tool that opens a door to the most talented musicians into a successful career paths,” Alexandra said. “We want the Columbia audience to have the opportunity to be present at such a special moment when a true guitar star is born.”
If you go: The Southern Guitar Festival and Competition begins on June 5 and ends June 7. Many of the events are at Tapp’s Art Center, 1644 Main St., All events are open to the public with a general pass, which costs $60 and can be purchased at southernguitarfest.com. A full schedule of competitions, concerts and other events can be found at the same website.
Amanda C. Coyne