Published: Jan. 31, 2017 By

guitar festival class

CU artist in residence Matteo Mela works with a participant in the International Guitar Festival.

For three days this February, the classical guitar will once again take center stage at the College of Music. The third CU International Guitar Festival and Competition is Feb. 10-12 at Imig Music Building and Macky Auditorium.

Nicolò Spera, director of the Ritter Family Classical Guitar Program, organized the festival in 2013 as a tribute to the lyrical and ancient instrument for which so many have an affinity.

“The festival was born because we don’t often have people from all over the world come to Boulder. This is bringing together a community of people who play the guitar and people who love the guitar.”

The festival’s finale is the competition, which takes place all day on Sunday, Feb. 12 in Grusin Music Hall. Around 40 guitarists from far-flung places like China, Italy, Mexico and all over the United States will compete, with Lynn McGrath, artists in residence SoloDuo and other accomplished guitarists serving as judges.

Spera, who himself hails from Milan, says the competition is always a unique opportunity for the multicultural audience and the contestants to share in a common bond.

“They will get to meet people from other cultures who speak different languages—to find a different way to play guitar and view music and even the world,” he says. “We’ve tapped into that the last two competitions, and it’s happening again this year.”

Spera says his students will also expand his students’ musical understanding, especially those who may not be able to spend time abroad. “Paradoxically, to be a music student can be isolating. We spend so much time in the practice room that we forget there’s a whole world out there.

“It’s important for my students who can’t travel that we bring that world to them.”

guitar festival participants on stage

Participants in the 2015 International Guitar Competition.

In addition to the competition, guest recitals are planned. On Friday night, Matteo Mela and Lorenzo Micheli, who together make up the Italian guitar pair SoloDuo, will perform a free concert in Grusin Music Hall. And on Saturday, two CU alumni take the stage.

“[Cellist Kimberly Patterson and guitarist Patrick Sutton] have a great story,” Spera says. “They met here, began playing together here and now they have a wonderful career together as a duo. And soon, they’ll be married. We’re so excited to be hosting them this year.”

Spera says the power of music to bring people together is indescribable—yet unquestionable.

“These three days in Boulder, when people come together to share their love for music, can strengthen our determination and our bond. The fact that so many young people are coming is a sign of hope. In fighting anger and ignorance, there is hope in civil discourse and in education, and there is hope in music: The message rooted in our guitar festival has never been this inspiring, and this important.”

For more information on the CU International Guitar Festival and Competition, visit the event website.

Schedule of Events

All events are free and open to the public

Guest artist recital: SoloDuo

Friday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Grusin Music Hall

Guest artist recital: Patterson/Sutton Duo

Saturday, Feb. 11, 8 p.m.
Grusin Music Hall

International Guitar Competition: Semi-Final Round

Sunday, Feb. 12, 9:30 a.m.
Grusin Music Hall

International Guitar Competition: Final Round

Sunday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m.
Grusin Music Hall