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Classical guitar in the spotlight during JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

During the second week of June, the classical guitar steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight, as eight up-and-coming classical guitarists come to the region from all over the world to compete in the 2016 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition.


Western New York has a strong relationship with the instrument. JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, got her start on classical guitar. Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio are an internationally-recognized guitar duo, heads of the Fleur de Son record label, and teachers who are based in Amherst. Well-known guitarist Mir Ali also makes his home in Amherst. And Jason Vieaux, one of the leading lights in the classical guitar world and a Grammy-award-winning musician, hails from Clarence.

But it is the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition which has truly vaulted Western New York to the forefront of the classical guitar world. Presented by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and WNED | WBFO, the competition is designed to identify and encourage fresh talent in the field. In its 12 years of existence, it has become highly recognized throughout the world.

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Eight guitarists are invited to Buffalo to perform at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 in the semi-finals at the WNED TV Studios. These performances will be broadcast on Classical 94.5 FM and audio-streamed at Three finalists will move on to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Falletta at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 at Kleinhans Music Hall. The winner receives $10,000, a return engagement with the orchestra, an opportunity to record with Fleur De Son records, and a chance to perform on the Incontri Musicali Series in Milan, Italy.

Tickets for the semifinals and the finals are available at 716-885-5000 or


Those who do not advance to the final round will perform for the community on Friday, June 10 in Guitar Day. A feature unique to this Competition, it has helped to nurture an interest in classical guitar in the community. Performances will take place at the Downtown Library, at Larkin Square, and at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, among other locations. For a full list of locations and times, visit

This year, the semi-finalists are: Anton Baranov (representing Russia); Silviu Octavian Ciulei (representing Romania); Thomas Csaba (representing France); Andras Csaki (representing Hungary); Alec Holcomb (representing the United States); Paul Psarras (representing Greece); Oscar Somersalo (representing Finland); and Thomas Viloteau (also representing France).

The judges will hold a free masterclass at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 11 at Amherst Community Church, 77 Washington Highway, Snyder. Advanced students from the Castellani Andriaccio Studio will perform for an audience and receive guidance from the panel of judges, all of whom are leaders in the classical guitar world. This year’s judges are Donald Crockett, a California-based composer, conductor and educator; Mark Delpriora, co-chair of the guitar department at Manhattan School of Music; Antigoni Goni, international educator and highly respected guitarist; Jeffrey McFadden, a Canadian guitarist; and Jeffrey Cogan, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the Guitar Foundation of America.

To keep up on the latest, visit or connect with the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition on Facebook and Twitter.

Photos: The orchestra and the stage set up with the flags of each country represented in the Competition. Finalist Ekachai Jearakul conferring with JoAnn Falletta at a rehearsal. Competition artistic director Michael Andriaccio shaking the hand of Jearakul after his performance.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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