If I was living in New England instead of 3,000 miles away in California, I would definitely plan on attending the upcoming University of Rhode Island Guitar Festival, taking place April 6–8 and the university in Kingston (about 30 miles south of Providence). This is the third year for the annual event, which has grown in both popularity and prestige each year. The director of the festival is Adam Levin, himself an outstanding player and an instructor in the music department at URI. You might know of Levin from his ambitious trilogy of Naxos releases of 21st Century Spanish Guitar, on which he performs an amazing cross-section of pieces by contemporary Spanish composers (more on that in the Fall 2018 issue of Classical Guitar, out in August), or from a handful of other releases; not to mention his appearances all over the U.S. and around the world. He’s a busy fellow.
“Our goal is to expand musical horizons and add international appeal to the festival,” Levin said in a statement. “This year, the festival will feature artists playing sounds from all over the world.” Indeed, the lineup includes the amazing South African Derek Gripper, who among other styles, has successfully brought the beautifully melodic and hypnotic music of the 21-string African kora onto the guitar; Fareed Haque, a highly eclectic stylist born of Pakistani and Chilean parents; the similarly versatile Croatian player Goran Ivanovic (he and Haque play together as a duo on occasion, and will at this fest); and Israeli mandolin master Jacob Reuven, who will perform a set of world-premiere Israeli works for mandolin-and-guitar with Levin. That should be compelling!
The festival is once again presenting a Virtuosos of New England program—this time featuring Frank Wallace (who has had a couple of recent CDs favorably reviewed in CG), Peter Janson, and Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers—along with master classes, lectures, the Boston Guitar Orchestra, and more. For more info, click here, and you can also learn more on Facebook. —Blair Jackson
And here are very cool videos of two of the performers: