BY BLAIR JACKSON

First of all, I just wanted to mention that if you are still interested in seeing the finals performances of the ICAC, you can still watch them on the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) Facebook page! You’ll have to do some scrolling  to find them, and the finals are split into two different posts, but they’re there and a I heartily recommend you check them out! In fact, earlier rounds and other arms of the competition are still archived there, as well.

Speaking of those other competitions at GFA: Here are the results:

Senior Division Solo
1st: Julio César Robles López (Mexico)
2nd: Gwenyth Aggeler (USA)
3rd: Liam Hedrick (USA)
4th: Francesca Boerio (USA)

Junior Division Solo
1st: Eric Wang (USA)
2nd: Jack Davisson (USA)
3rd: Lizhiyi Wang (China)
4th: Kotone Ozaki (Japan)

Small Ensemble Artist Division
2nd (no 1st): Tritonus Guitar Trio (Hungary)
3rd: Belgrade Guitar Duo (Serbia)

Small Ensemble Youth Division
1st: Felice Quartet (Poland)
2nd: Davisson Duo


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Large Ensemble Youth Division
1st: California Conservatory of Music
2nd: Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy

Some final thoughts on this year’s GFA:
As always it was extremely well-organized and -run, from the GFA brass, to host Dr. Stephen Mattingly and his University of Louisville School of Music crew, and the always-helpful volunteers…

Easily one of my favorite sights of the convention was watching Leo Brouwer enjoying the June 20 Baroque guitar concert by Xavier Díaz-Latorre. Situated about a third of the way back in Comstock Hall, the maestro was unobtrusively “conducting” throughout the exceptional program, gesturing in rhythm, smiling broadly, offering his open hands in appreciation, nodding—he was definitely feeling it, so it was no surprise when he was one of the first in the audience to leap to his feet at the conclusion of the program. Brouwer was such a wonderful presence—in person and through his music—at this festival…

Somehow I forgot to mention one of the performances I saw during my three full days there: Opening the Amadeus Duo concert on June 20 was the Youth Guitar Orchestra, once again under the steady and inspiring leadership of Chuck Hulihan, who conducted the large ensemble in a spirited and expertly delivered version of Annette Kruisbrink’s four-part Mùsica Latina Fácil, a charming if perhaps overly fácil tour through a few Latin/Brazilian styles. I always get a little choked up thinking about how many of these young players are just at the beginning of what could well be long and amazing careers, so kudos to Chuck and the GFA for giving them the tutelage and some exposure…

Chuck Hulihan and some of the Youth Guitar Orchestra take their bows. Photo: BJ

My apologies to the performers I was unable to see this year, including last year’s GFA winner Tengyue Zhang (whom I did meet; what a fine young man), Matt Palmer, Duo Solaris, Elena Papandreou (her program, all Dyens compositions or arrangements, looked intriguing!), Joaquín Clerch, the Erlendis Quartet, and Trio Tangere…

Here are videos by four of those acts, performing works they played at GFA. Some wonderful and different pieces:



See you in Miami, 2019!