July 15, 2009 "Competitions"
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This week's edition of Classical Guitar Alive! delves into the exciting and controversial world of music performance competitions, and features succinct interviews with several leading guitar competition winners: Denis Azabagic, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Jason Vieaux, and international music competition judges: Dr. Kathryn Evans, and Professor Enric Madriguera.
Bosnian guitarist Denis Azabagic is perhaps the world's most experienced guitar competition winner, having won almost every major international guitar competition. In this interview recorded in early 2002, Azabagic stresses that while competitions were very good to him, competitions can be also be devastating to worthy musicians who never seem to win. He performs a perennial competition repertoire favorite, "La Catedral" by Agustin Barrios (1885-1944).
What do judges in music competitions look for in winners? Two judges who serve on the juries of international guitar competitions in Europe and the United States answer this question: Dr. Kathryn Evans, Associate Dean of the School of Fine Arts and Humanities, and Professor Enric Madriguera of the University of Texas at Dallas of the School of Fine Arts and Humanities.
The program continues with baroque chamber music performed by three frequent competition winners: Cellist Liwei Qin, and Hungarian twin brothers Peter & Zoltan Katona. They perform their arrangement of Handel's Trio Sonata, op. 2, no. 5.
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet member and solo guitarist/three-time international competition winner William Kanengiser describes competitions as a necessary evil, but at best are sloppy predictors of performers' future success. He performs his arrangement of a Bartok piano Sonatina "Three Transylvanian Dances".
Is a competition win a prerequisite to a successful performing career? The world's foremost classical guitarist, John Williams, has not won a single guitar competition! He performs Castelnuovo-Tedesco's (1895-1968) Guitar Concerto No. 1 in D with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Sir Charles Groves.
Like his fellow LA Guitar Quartet member, Scott Tennant is also a three-time competition winner who also has mixed feelings about competitions. Tennant describes his positive competition experiences in developing performance skills and goal-setting, but also warns of the dangers of becoming a "professional competition player." Tennant performs Rodrigo's "Que Buen Caminito".
The Guitar Foundation of America presents the leading guitar competition in the United States. In addition to a cash prize, the GFA awards a 50+ date concert tour. In 1992, 19-year-old Jason Vieaux became the youngest winner of the GFA competition. He relates the story about how claimed victory despite breaking a string onstage during the finals of the competition. The program concludes with his performance of Jorge Morel's arrangement of Fernando Bustamante's "Misionera".
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