by Jan Jezioro
Buffalo welcomes back the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition
The success and ultimately the reputation of any competition depend in large measure on the strength of the competitors. Judging by the accomplishments of the eight guitarists selected to compete in next week’s fifth biennial JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, the event has become a must on the “to do” list of aspiring classical guitarists worldwide.
Launched in 2004 as a joint effort by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and PBS member station WNED, the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition was the world’s first concerto competition for classical guitarists featuring accompaniment by a full symphony orchestra. The competition remains committed to its goal of identifying and encouraging young classical guitars in their professional careers and it does so by bringing international guitarists to Buffalo to perform publicly in competition for cash prizes, a recording contract, national and international broadcast exposure, and a return engagement with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. As BPO music director JoAnn Falletta, a highly accomplished guitarist in her own right, noted in an interview in Classical Guitar Magazine, “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.”
For the first time the semifinals of the competition, at 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 6 and Thursday, June 7, will take place in the studios of WNED in downtown Buffalo, and the entire semifinal competition will be simulcast on WNED-TV and radio stations Classical 94.5 FM and News 970 AM. Three guitarists will then be selected to advance to the competition final at Kleinhans Music Hall on Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 PM, when JoAnn Falletta will lead the BPO in a program featuring each of the finalists as a soloist in a complete performance of a concerto for guitar and orchestra, which makes for an exciting evening as you might often hear two of the finalists playing the same concerto, and while unlikely, it’s not totally inconceivable that all three finalists might play the same concerto in the final.
As is usual, the competitors represent a genuinely international roster of countries that includes Canada, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, and the US.
Petrit Ceku, born in Kosovo, now calls Croatia home, and he has won first prizes in numerous international guitar competitions such as Anna Amalia in Weimer, Germany, Emilio Pujol in Sassari, Italy, Andres Segovia in Velbert, Germany, and Maurizio Biasini in Bologna, and he has already released a CD on the Naxos label.
Andras Csaki was born in Budapest where he is currently assistant professor at Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music and he has won first prizes in the 51st Tokyo International Guitar Competition in 2008, the Michele Pittaluga Guitar Competition in Alessandria, Italy in 2009 and in the Julian Arcas Guitar Competition in Spain in 2011.
American Mark Edwards holds a Master of Music Performance and Pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, and he has won 32 top prizes in the US, Canada and Thailand, including the 2010 Asia International Guitar Competition, the 2009 Montreal International Guitar Competition and the 2008 National Guitar Workshop/National D’addario Solo Competition.
Tariq Harb, a native of Jordan, has a Masters in Performance degree from McGill University, and he is the both the First Prize winner and the Audience Choice Award winner at the Barrios WorldWideWeb Competition in 2011 and first prize winner in the 2011 Montreal International Classical Guitar Competition.
Upon completion of his studies in his native Thailand, Ekachai Jearakul received a scholarship to complete a Master Degree in Classical Guitar Performance at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg, and he has won first prizes in international guitar competitions in Paris and Rome, as well as in Mexico, Korea and Spain.
The youngest competitor in this year’s competition is Celil Refik Kaya, age 20, a native of Istanbul, who at age of 13 won second prize at the Forum Gitarre Wien International Classical Guitar Competition in Austria, competing against guitarists in the 20 year old category, and he has since won first prizes at the Guitar Competition of Istanbul and at the Young Virtuosos Competition held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Nemanja Ostoich, a native of Serbia, has been the gold medalist or the top prizewinner in more than fifteen major international guitar competitions around the world and after completing his studies at the University of Belgrade he earned both a Masters Degree and Artist Diploma at the Indiana University School of Music at Bloomington.
Born in Tuzla, Bosnia, Sanel Redzic who now lives in Germany has won twenty prizes at international guitar competitions including the Forum Gitarre Wien, in Austria, the Anna Amalia, in Germany, and the Guitar Art Festival in Belgrade.
On Friday June 8 you can hear the competitors who did not advance to Saturday’s final round performing free at several local venues listed on the competition website.
Tickets are $12 for each semifinal at WNED studios; tickets for Friday evening with the BPO at Kleinhans run from $37 to $70. Call 885-5000 or visit www.bpo.org.
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