Every couple of years, about a month before CU’s legendary Conference on World Affairs, the College of Music hosts another international gathering in Grusin Music Hall. Organized by Nicolò Spera, director of the Ritter Family Classical Guitar Program, the 2019 CU International Guitar Festival featured nearly 40 young players from around the world this March.

Spera is proud of the event, which he says is always eye-opening for musicians who often play their instruments by themselves. “For guitarists, it’s important because we spend so much of our time practicing alone. Here, we get to meet so many people who do what exactly what we do.”

Spera considers it his responsibility to share a love of music with those around him, from his toddler daughter to the students in his studio and the Boulder community. This year’s festival included more female guitarists than ever before—something Spera says is a good sign.

“Guitar tends to be a male-dominated world. It’s good to be part of this conversation, to get more young women playing guitar and applying to the program.”

There was also cultural and historical diversity in the music that was performed during the multi-day program, featuring players and competitors from Italy, South Korea and Costa Rica, among many other countries.

The winner of this year’s competition was guitarist Dragos Ilie, who hails from Romania, adding to the expanding list of countries represented and sharing music at the biennial event.