BY BLAIR JACKSON
From September 28–30, Baltimore will once again be the site of the largest conference of guitar societies and guitar presenters to be held in North America—or maybe the whole world!—the Guitar Society Summit, put on by the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society (bcgs.org), spearheaded by Asgerdur Sigurdardottir, president of the BCGS since 2003 and known far and wide as both the manager of the great maestro Manuel Barrueco (who is artistic advisor for the BCGS), as well as a respected recording engineer and producer. The last edition of the Summit was held in the spring of 2016, and was a rousing success (we covered it in the Summer 2016 issue), and this one has even more societies and presenters signed up to attend and participate. The confab takes place at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where Barrueco teaches.
What’s wonderful about the GSS is that it recognizes the vital importance of guitar societies in fostering classical guitar on a regional and local level; indeed, many guitar societies both provide space for guitarists to gather and share ideas and also sponsor concerts by touring guitarists. The Summit gives attendees the rare opportunity to hear from experts about different aspects of running a successful society or concert presentation group (everything from promotion to booking to legal issues, and so much more), and to network with their peers and swap stories and advice. The fact that it keeps expanding each time, with many societies returning year after year, shows that the participants are enjoying a valuable experience.
So far 23 different organizations, representing thousands of guitarists, have signed up to participate: Austin Classical Guitar, Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, Boston Classical Guitar Society, Cincinnati Guitar Society, Florida Guitar Foundation, Great Lakes Guitar Society, Knoxville Guitar Society, Marlow Guitar Series, Minnesota Guitar Society, New Jersey Classical Guitar Society, New York City Classical Guitar Society, Orange County Guitar Circle, Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society, Piedmont Classical; Guitar Society, Pittsburgh Classical Guitar Society, Radford University International Guitar Festival, St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, Toronto Guitar Society, Victoria Guitar Society, Western Colorado Classical Guitar Society, Wilmington Classical Guitar Society.
Activities include a social hour on Friday evening September 28; an entire day of workshops on Saturday September 29, followed by a special concert featuring the extraordinary young Chinese guitarist Junhong Kuang; more workshops on Sunday morning, and then an open discussion in the early afternoon. Workshop leaders are Dr. Matthew Hinsley, director of Austin Classical Guitar, an expert or organizational management and board development, and Dan Wiznitzer, an account executive at Himmelrich PR, who will help attendees get the most out of digital platforms and offer strategies for increasing guitar society attendance and interest. I will also be there speaking about Classical Guitar magazine and more generally about promotion and publicity. I’ll also be reporting on the conference in our winter 2018 issue, out in November.
All in all it should be a fantastic and worthwhile event. If you are interested in attending, or need more info, click here.
And here’s a video of Junhong Kuang a couple of years ago playing Barrios’ Un Sueño en la Floresta:
Finally, we must mention the fact that that at the Guitar Foundation of America convention in Louisville, Kentucky, this week (June 18–23) there will be a Guitar Society Roundtable on Thursday (June 21) at 10 a.m.; always an interesting and informative event, too!