This year’s edition of the bi-annual New York Guitar Festival, taking place in several locations around Manhattan between May 8 and May 15, promises to be another fascinatingly eclectic affair. No, it’s not mainly classical guitar; rather it is always an adventurous celebration of many kinds of guitar music—electric, steel-string, classical—and also of some of the guitar’s “relatives” around the world, such as the lute, the Middle Eastern oud, and the Chinese pipa (a four-stringed lute), to name three being featured this year.
The event that will probably appeal most to classical-guitar aficionados is the all-day “Audible Cloisters: Guitar Marathon,” being staged at the Cloisters museum in (way) North Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park on May 14. The Cloisters is an amazing place any time of year: Designed to house the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s massive collection of Medieval European art and artifacts, the huge building, which sits on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, was constructed in the 1930s from the stones of five cloistered abbeys in Europe, incorporating the different designs of each abbey, and also tying them together within the larger overall structure. It’s not unusual for the Cloisters to put on concerts of Gregorian chant and other early music events. The Guitar Marathon will utilize several different spaces in the Cloisters, from the domed Gothic Hall to outside gardens. Nylon-string guitar players participating include Alberta Khoury, a gifted Australian currently studying with Sharon Isbin at the Julliard School of Music in NYC; Colin Davin, a former Isbin student now on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music; genre-bending and boundary-breaking Gyan Riley (pictured above)—son of the famous contemporary composer Terry Riley, and on-half of the chamber-folk duo Probosci; and versatile flamenco guitarist, singer, and dancer Marija Temo. We’ll also give a special shout-out to a frequent fellow traveler in the classical-guitar milieu—the great lutenist Nigel North, who should feel right at home playing at the Cloisters!
As noted, there are many other players participating in the Marathon and at other Festival events, too. Check out the Festival’s website for details.