First things first: Happy birthday to the incomparable virtuoso Christopher Parkening, who turns 71 on December 14! He will always be considered one of the most gifted and influential players of our time; one of a small handful who really helped put classical guitar on the map in the last half of the 20th century (particularly in the USA). I had the honor and pleasure of meeting him and talking with him a bit at La Guitarra California in 2017, and he was warm and gracious, a true gentleman. —Blair Jackson

Now to the Parkening news, which I’ve mostly lifted off a press release issued this week:

The 2019 Parkening International Guitar Competition, which will be held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, between Tuesday, May 28, and Saturday, June 1, 2019, is now accepting applications. Applications may be submitted between now and Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 5 p.m. Applications will be accepted online through https://app.getacceptd.com/parkening.

The competition, which debuted in 2006, offers the largest prize purse of any classical guitar competition in the world, with competitors vying for cash awards in excess of $65,000. After three days of intense public performances, the winner of the Parkening International Guitar Competition receives a gold medal, the Jack Marshall Prize of $30,000, and what has become one of the most prestigious titles in classical guitar.


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The panel will judge 15 competitors, three of whom will advance to the final round to perform a concerto before a live audience with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. The gold, silver, and bronze medalists will be announced at the conclusion of the final round.

The Parkening Young Guitarist Competition, for guitarists age 17 and younger, will be held at Pepperdine on Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29, 2019. This two-day event will help to identify outstanding young guitarists and encourage them to continue their performance careers and studies.

“We are excited to invite talented guitarists from all over the world to apply to join us for the 2019 Parkening International Guitar Competition. We can’t wait to review the applicants and select 15 competitors and 10 young guitarist competitors to join us in Malibu in May and June,” said Rebecca Carson, Executive Director of the Parkening International Guitar Competition.

The event is held every three years, though this time it will have been four years since the last competition, which was won by Meng Su, with two more powerhouse players finishing second and third: Rovshan Mamedkuliev and Tengyue Zhang, respectively. You can watch Meng’s performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez at the 2015 competition below.