Memphis International Guitar Festival

The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music will be hosting the 8th Memphis International Guitar Festival this weekend, March 5-7, 2021. The event will include concerts and master classes from renowned classical guitarists such as Dr. Lily Afshar, David Leisner, William Kanengiser, and Hilary Field. 

There will also be a competition during the festival, which will be split into two rounds. The finalists will be announced after the concert Friday night and then the winners will be announced after the concert on Sunday night.  

The event will be completely virtual this year. To register click this link. Please contact Dr. Lily Afshar if you have any questions. 

 This event is sponsored by the Augustine Foundation. 

The event will begin with a master class by David Leisner. 

David Leisner is an extraordinarily versatile musician with a multi-faceted career as an electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher. “Among the finest guitarists of all time,” according to American Record Guide, Leisner is a featured recording artist for the Azica label, with 9 highly acclaimed recordings. Other recordings are on the Naxos, Telarc and Koch labels, with a concert DVD published by Mel Bay. David Leisner’s recent seasons have taken him throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Asia, Australia and EuropeLeisner . Celebrated for expanding the guitar repertoire, Davis Leisner has premiered works by many important composers, including David Del Tredici, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Philip Glass, Richard Rodney Bennett, Peter Sculthorpe and Osvaldo Golijov. He was also a pioneer in the rediscovery of 19th- century guitar composers, Johann Kaspar Mertz and Wenzeslaus Matiegka. A frequent visitor to important chamber music festivals, he is also the Artistic Director of Guitar Plus, an innovative series in New York devoted to chamber music with the guitar. His own composition, noted for their emotional and dramatic power, are performed, recorded and published worldwide. A distinguished teacher as well, Leisner is currently co-chair of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music. 

Then that night will be a concert by William Kanengiser. 

Recognized as one of  America’s finest classical guitarists, William Kanengiser won First Prize in  the 1987 Concert Artists Guild International Competition as well as major  guitar competitions in Toronto (1981) and Paris (1983).  He has recorded four solo CD’s  for the GSP  label, ranging from classical to jazz to Caribbean to Near  Eastern styles, and  he recently recorded two CD’s for the Suzuki Guitar Advanced Repertoire Series.  In 2005 he released a live concert DVD, “Classical Guitar and Beyond”, for Mel  Bay Recordings, which also features Mr. Kanengiser’s talents as a  comedian/mimic in his infamous “GFA Imitation Show”.  A member of the guitar  faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music  since 1983, he was a recipient of  the “2011 Dean’s Award for Excellence  in Teaching”. He has given master classes  around the world and  produced two instructional videos, “Effortless Classical  Guitar” and “Classical Guitar Mastery” for Hot Licks Video. The 2010-11 season  was marked by special performances of Shingo Fujii’s “Concerto de Los Angeles”  for solo guitar and guitar orchestra, which was written for Mr. Kanengiser and  recorded in Kyoto in 2008.  This piece was played with guitar students in seven  US cities, as well  as in Osaka and Shanghai. Featured recitals in 2012-13  include Spivey  Hall near Atlanta and appearances with the Long Island,  Philadelphia,  Sacramento, Calgary and Indianapolis Guitar Societies.

As a founding member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet,  Mr. Kanengiser has toured extensively throughout Asia,  Europe and  North America and recorded over a dozen CD’s.  LAGQ was awarded a  GRAMMY® for Best Classical  Crossover Recording in 2004. “Interchange”,   featuring concertos by Joaquin Rodrigo and Sergio Assad, was released in  March 2010 and received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Classical Composition. Their Australian debut tour, included three sold-out shows at the Sydney Opera House.

In addition to the many arrangements  and compositions Mr. Kanengiser  has written for LAGQ over the years, Mr.  Kanengiser created  the stage production “The Ingenious Don Quixote:  Words and Music from the Time of Cervantes”,  writing a one-hour script for John  Cleese of Monty Python and arranging accompanying Spanish Renaissance music for guitar quartet.   This work was toured with comedian Phil Proctor of the Firesign Theater, and was recently released as a live DVD on Mel Bay  Recordings.

March 6th will start with a master class by Memphis’ own Dr. Lily Afshar, Professor of Classical Guitar.

Lily Afshar, Professor of Guitar, is the recipient of the University of Memphis 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston Conservatory, the 2000 Board of Visitors Eminent Faculty Award, the 2000 Orville H. Gibson Award for Best Female Classical Guitarist and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Recording Award. Chosen as “Artistic Ambassador” for the United States Information Agency to Africa, she was the winner of the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Annual “Premier Guitarist” awards presented by the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. She has taught master classes and performed concerts world-wide in prestigious venues such as Wigmore Hall in London, the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Jerash Festival of Arts in Amman, Jordan, the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, and the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson, Wyoming. A recipient of numerous state, national, and international honors, she has toured and performed new works in North, Central and South America, Denmark, Poland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Iran, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Africa. Dr. Afshar is the first woman in the world to receive a Doctorate of Music in classical guitar. She received that degree from Florida State University, a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music from the Boston Conservatory. She also received 3 Diplomas of Merit from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Dr. Afshar’s articles on Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Goya are published multi-lingually. She is the author of “Five Popular Persian Ballads” and has recorded seven CD’s. They are “24 Caprichos de Goya, OP. 195” “A Jug of Wine and Thou,” “Possession,”, “Hemispheres,” which was number seven on Billboard’s Classical Album Chart, “One Thousand and One Nights”, her first chamber music CD, “Musica da Camera”, and her most recent CD “Bach on Fire”. Her book “Essential Bach Arranged for the Guitar” and her DVD “Virtuoso Guitar” are published by Mel Bay. She has released four volumes of instructional DVDs called “Classical Guitar Secrets” and “Classical Guitar Collection” with GuitarControl. 

Followed by another master class that afternoon by William Kanengiser. Shortly thereafter will be Hilary Field’s concert. 

International performing and recording artist, Hilary Field, has garnered praise for her dynamic virtuosity, her sensitive musicianship, and for the emotional depth she brings to the heart of classical guitar music. Hilary has held faculty positions as the head of the Guitar department at Seattle Pacific University and Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. Hilary is a past winner of the Northwest Young Artist Series Competition and was the first guitarist to win the Frances Walton Soloist Competition. She has released several award winning CDs, including her debut recording, Music of Spain and Latin America, which was an award winner for Classical Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. Other CDs include Ballad Stories, Siente, Cantilena, Airoso – guitar and viola, and Premieres.

Hilary was recently sponsored by the US Embassy to perform and tour in South America, and has been a featured performer in international guitar festivals such as Festival Entrecuerdas in Chile, Festival Internacional de Guitarra ICPNA in Perú, Série Grands Concerts in Québec, the Long Island Guitar Festival in New York, and the Guitar Masters Series in Orlando Florida. She has received grants for composing and performing new music by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture, and Artist Trust. Soundboard, the official magazine of the Guitar Foundation of America notes “Field plays everything with a refined musicality, immaculate technique, and unfailingly lovely sound.” The Seattle Times exclaims that classical guitarist, “Hilary Field, is a dynamic player. She doesn’t just recite what can often be complex work, but imbues it with fire and grace.”

And closing off the night will be David Leisner’s concert. 

The final day of the event will begin with a masterclass by Hillary Field. Then later that evening Dr. Afshar will give a concert, then announce the winners of the competition. 


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