|Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchoff|
The symposium is set at an old estate or school on the bank of the Ruhr River outside of Iserlohn, and completely self sufficient. I say old, but it is so nicely kept, and the modern additions to the campus so well done, and the grounds are so beautiful that everything is perfect. The students, teachers and performers mostly all stay on the campus doing lessons, workshops, master classes and guitar orchestra rehearsals all
|Inside the beautiful Church|
There is also an ongoing exhibition of guitar makers, many from Germany, but also from England, Bulgaria, China, Spain, Japan, Canada, USA (me) and others. The opportunity to see other makers work, and together mull over the joys and challenges of this special work is rare and special. The skill level is quite amazing, and watching and hearing a parade of virtuoso players trying out everyone's guitars and putting them through their paces is a wonderful opportunity. Also I met the folks from the German guitar dealing company Sicca, Manuel and Mirco, very nice guys from a very cool company. I will talk about Sicca more in a later post.
The fact that the festival is so well established offers a remarkable sense of history. In addition to the artists booked for concerts and masterclass teaching, there is a core of established teachers who have been coming every year for decades, and have helped the students grow from very young into mature players who end up performing in the series, and going on to have distinguished careers of their own. World renown teachers like Bruce Holzman, Tom Johnson, Dale Kavanagh, Frank Gerstmeier — and many others who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting — return every year and give the students such professional and inspiring guidance that there seems to be emerging a whole new level of skill, a new generation of players eclipsing what we have thought of as virtuosity and musicianship.
|Bruce Holzman, Tom Johnson and Frank Gerstmeier|
While I was there there my phone/camera was giving me nothing but trouble and I was a hopeless journalist, in that I didn't take any photos at all. I'm not naturally aggressive with a camera, as s many people are, I hate to break the moment, so I just have to visualize all of the wonderful moments in my memory. I have a pretty good memory, and these memory pictures are great! I'm sure that a few searches in social media would conjure up infinite photos and smiles, but in the tradition of a gossip columnist I just want to shout out to some of the wonderful people who's friendships and interactions made my week such a memorable and moving experience:
So here's to you all, in no particular order — Eva Beneke, Dale Kavinaugh, Manuel and Mirco from Sicca, Wolfgang Bargel, Wolfgang Jellinghaus, thank you Wolfgang, Scott, Matt, John and Bill from LAGQ, Bruce Holzman, Denis Azabajik, Tom Johnson, Ella Chekan, Rene Izquierdo, Yuichi Imai, Frank Gerstmeier, Michael Newman, Johannes Moller, Laura Fraticelli, and Dario, Xu Bao, Giampaulo Bandini, Gerald Garcia, The Baltic
And Thomas Kirchhoff. I've gotta give him credit. He's a force of nature. And he puts on a great guitar festival. Great culture, great party.
And again to you all. May we remember and get together again!
|Thomas playing in the beautiful courtyard of Haus Villigst.|
|Take a look at our new friends over at Siccas Guitars.|