French guitarist, composer, and teacher Nicolas Kahn was named the winner of EuroStrings’ first annual Composition Competition, for his set of miniatures called Les Arcanes, described by Sérgio Assad, who was on the jury, as appealing “directly to our subconsciousness as classical guitarists. This set of miniatures echoes sounds that are embedded in our memories.” EuroStrings, as most of you probably know by now, is a close-knit “collaborative” consisting of 17 guitar festivals/competitions throughout Europe. So far the group has done an extraordinary job of raising the profile of the member festivals, and promoting excellence through its network of competitions. And now its competition competition is certain to make a mark.
Kahn received his bachelor’s degree from the Sorbonne in Paris, and his master’s in musicology from that city’s École des Hautes Études en Science Sociales (EHESS). He studied classical guitar with James Szura at the Metz Conservatory of Music in northeast France and with Gerard Abiton at the Conservatoire in Orleans (central France). Besides playing as a solo artist, teaching, and coimpising, the Paris-based musician is also in a voice-guitar-violin-percussion ensemble called Kantega Alteli.
The finalists in the competition were Mykhailo Chedryk (Ukraine) and Georgi Dimitrov (USA/Bulgaria). The semi-fnalists were Mickael Luis (Netherlands), Lukáš Sommer (Czech Republic), Rafael Marino Arcaro (UK), Fotis Koutsothodoros (Greece), Mauro Godoy Villalobos (Sweden), Daniele Fabio (Italy), Maja Matić (Netherlands), and Matic Smolnikar (Slovenia).
Besides Assad, the jury consisted of David Pavlovitts, Stephen Goss, Brian Head, and Nina Šenk. The competition received 57 entries from 22 countries around the world.
Prizes for Kahn’s victory included a cash prize of 1500€, an HD-video recording, and publishing on the EuroStrings channel by EuroStrings Editions. Additionally, Les Arcanes will be played in the U.S. and Asia by the winner of the EuroStrings Guitar Competition 2018/19, as well as being performed in at least a half-dozen European countries, following its premiere this coming April 18 at the Musikverein in Vienna during the International Guitar Festival Rust. Kahn’s work will also be the set piece in the final of the 2nd EuroStrings Guitar Competition in London as part of the International Guitar Foundation’s Guitar Summit (July 18–21).
Congratulations, Nicolas… and all you talented competitors! And cheers to EuroStrings for its ongoing commitment to promoting classical guitar! —BJ
Obviously, we don’t have a video of the piece to share, but here are clips of winner Nicolas Kahn, performing parts of two of his pieces, both of which are published by Les Productions d’Oz: Le triptyque des heures and Mirrors No. 4: