The focus of the classical guitar world will turn toward the city of Buffalo as the fifth biennial JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, hosted by WNED and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, unfolds next week. This prestigious musical event will take place from June 6-9, featuring eight top international guitarists who will be representing the nations of Croatia, Hungary, Canada, Jordan, Thailand, Turkey, Serbia, Germany and the United States.
The eight semi-finalists competing at this year's event are Petrit Ceku of Zagreb, Croatia; Andra's Csa'ki of Budapest, Hungary; Mark Edwards of Baltimore, Maryland; Tariq Harb, a dual citizen of Jordan and Ontario, Canada; Ekachai Jearakul of Ubonsatchathani, Thailand; Celil Refik Kaya of Kadikoy, Istanbul; Nemanja Ostoich of Serbia; and Sanel Redzic of Weimar, Germany. Each of these talented musicians has graduated from or is currently attending one of the world's top schools of music and has competed and won prizes in international music competitions.
"The young musicians participating in this competition are outstanding talents," said JoAnn Falletta. "I am very pleased to be able to bring their tremendous abilities to a greater audience and to be part of this incredible event which nurtures their growth and future careers."
An opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 5 at the BlueCross BlueShield downtown Buffalo headquarters will kick things off. The eight guitarists will be in attendance, as well as the competition judges, JoAnn Falletta, composers, educators, business and community leaders, and competition organizers from the BPO and WNED. The semifinals of the competition will be held on June 6 and June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the WNED studios. For the first time, these performances will be aired live for viewers and listeners on WNED-TV, Classical 94.5, and streamed online at wned.org
"We are excited to announce that for the first time in the history of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, the semifinals will be broadcast on WNED-TV," said Donald K. Boswell, WNED president and CEO. "Being able to bring this international event into the homes of Western New York and Southern Ontario exhibits the rich and strong culture in the arts that resonates within this area."
Following the semi-finals, the eight competing guitarists will host free "Guitar Days" concerts during the day on Friday, June 8 at various locations. Most will be open for all members of the community to attend. The locations for these concerts are as follows:
Chautauqua Institution, Fletcher Hall at 11 a.m.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute Atrium at 11 a.m.
BlueCross BlueShield of WNY at 12 p.m.
Women and Children's Hospital at 1 p.m.
Park Creek Senior Living at 1:30 p.m.
Fox Run Orchard Park at 4 p.m.
There will also be performances at local schools, which will be exclusively for student audiences (not open to the public). They locations for these concerts are as follows:
Orchard Park Middle School at 9 a.m.
Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts at 9:30 a.m.
PS 3 D'Youville Porter Campus at 12 p.m.
The finals will take place on June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall. For the first time in the history of this competition, the esteemed panel of judges will perform two pieces in ensemble before the finals begin. Judges of this year's event are Buffalo-based chamber ensemble duo Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio (artistic directors of the competition), classical guitarist and composer Eduardo Fernandez; classical guitarist, teacher, and international performing/recording artist Adam Holzman; Ricardo Iznaola, chair of the Guitar & Harp department and director of the conservatory program at University of Denver's Lamont School of Music; "Classical Guitar Alive" featured performer Tony Morris; and classical guitar recording artist Berta Rojas. These eminent professional performers and educators will perform "Brejeiro" by Ernesto Nazareth and "Rumba by Stepan Rak.
During the final round of the competition, the three finalists will perform with the BPO, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. As the judges are making their final decision, audience members and the BPO musicians will vote for the winners of the "Audience Favorite" and "Musicians' Favorite" medals. The first prize winner will receive a package that includes $10,000 cash, a concert tour including a return performance with the BPO, an appearance with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and a performance at the Round Top Music Festival in Texas, a concert guitar by Gabriel Hernandez Jimenez, and a crystal trophy.
"We celebrate our finalists as superb visiting artists," Falletta said. "Buffalo is happy to welcome them, and to enjoy their excellent music making in the semifinal rounds and in the final concert with the Philharmonic. Their presence enriches our region, and we hope that the competition will ultimately increase the presence of the classical guitar on orchestral stages throughout the world. I cannot wait to see what this year's pool of contenders brings to Buffalo."
Tickets to the semifinals will be $12 per night and finals tickets will range from $39-72. For more information on the 2012 Falletta Guitar Competition or to purchase tickets, visit www.bpo.org
or call (716) 885-5000.
Lead photo by Enid Bloch.