Congratulations to the exceptional young Italian guitarist Carlotta Dalia for her impressive victory in the International Guitar Festival and Competition ‘Niccolò Paganini’ in the lovely north-central Italy city of Parma at the end of May. (Besides being a master violinist and composer, Paganini was also a virtuoso guitarist. Born in Genoa in 1782, he lived in Parma for a number of years and was eventually laid to rest there, 36 years after his death in 1840—don’t ask why; it’s complicated!) Carlotta Dalia also won honors from the judges for playing the best interpretation of a piece by Leo Brouwer, who was the subject of numerous tributes and was on hand for the festivities.

Placing second in the main competition was another name that’s been popping up more and more recently, Yuki Saito of Japan (who has been studying most recently with Ricardo Gallen in Germany); third place went to the talented Polish guitarist Bianka Szalady (currently studying with Tomasz Zawierucha in Germany). In the Chamber Music Competition, first prize went to the Meninas Duo (Bianka Szalaty and singer Ewelina Koniec), second to the Italian Cordas et Bentu Duo (guitar-flute duo of Maria Luciani and Francesca Apeddu), third to the Salzburg Guitar Trio (Katie Lonson of Canada, Izan Rubio of Spain, and Andrew Booth of the UK). The outright winner of the Youth competition was Jagoda Swidzinska of Poland.

Of course there were also numerous concerts and master classes during the five-day festival—among the many guest guitarists were Andrea de Vitis, Zoran Dukic, Rene Izqierdo, Petri Kumela, Costas Cotsiolis, the Bandini-Chiacchiaretta Duo (guitarist Giampaolo Bandini is artistic director of the festival). Events took place at a number of different venues in Parma, includuing the Chiesa di San Rocco, the Casa della Musica, and, on the final evening, the incredibly glamorous and historic Teatro Regio di Parma, where Kazuhito Yamashita mesmerized the crowd with a program of Bach. What an impressive event this festival was!  —Blair Jackson


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Maestro Leo Brouwer during a master class. Photo: Jesus Cornejo

Master class with Zoran Dukic. Photo: Jesus Cornejo

Final concert with Kazuhito Yamashita at the Teatro Regio di Parma. Photo: Jesus Cornejo

And, because we can’t resist posting videos (but don’t have one from the actual festival), here is Carlotta Dalia in action, playing some Castelnuovo-Tedesco (as well as pieces by Scarlatti and Regondi we posted as a Video Pick of the Week last October):