By Mary Ann Lauricella
Niagara Gazette — The classical guitar spotlight will shine on this area next week when the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition welcomes eight of the world’s talented young professional guitarists.
The semifinals will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, June 5 (four competitors performing each night) at the WNED-WBFO studios. The finals concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra takes place at 7:30 p.m. on June 7 at Kleinhans Music Hall. The semifinals will be broadcast on Classical 94.5 WNED Radio and streamed live on wned.org. Tickets for the semifinals ($12) and the finals ($41-$76) are available at www.bpo.org and at 885-5000.
This year’s competitors represent the U.S., Bosnia, China, Germany, Poland, Romania, Thailand and Ukraine. The first-prize package includes $10,000, a solo concert in Milan, Italy; performances at Carnegie Hall, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and the Round Top Music Festival in Texas; a recording contract, a concert guitar and a crystal trophy.
Founded in 2004 to honor the BPO’s music director and conductor, 2014 marks the sixth biennial event of the world’s first concerto competition for guitarists.
“For me, the guitar was the vessel of my lifelong journey into the enchanted world of music,” JoAnn Falletta said, adding,” I’ve been a guitarist since my seventh birthday.”
She continued: “It is very moving to me that we have an exciting competition featuring up and coming young guitarists from all over the world. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and WNED are playing a key role in celebrating the classical guitar. It thrills me that we are able to bring prominent recognition to highly skilled young artists, and also to enhance the visibility of the cultural arts here in Western New York.”
Competition artistic directors are Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio, who perform together internationally as a chamber ensemble, are educators and owners of Fleur de Son Classics record label. Joining them as judges are the Amadeus Guitar Duo (Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchhoff), from Germany; Micaela Pittaluga, president of the Pittaluga Competition, from Italy; David Ostenberg, program host at WWFM Radio in New York; and virtuoso guitarist Ana Vidovic, from Croatia.
“Once again this year, we are honored to have judges of this caliber come here to participate,” Castellani said. “They travel widely for concerts, guitar festivals and competitions. We appreciate the expertise that they bring.” While the judges step out of the auditorium to deliberate on June 7, audience members will vote for the “Audience Favorite.” At the same time, BPO members cast ballots for the “Musicians’ Favorite.” Medals will be awarded in both categories.
In conjunction with the competition, free daytime solo performances by the semifinalists will be held a various community sites on June 6. Among them are Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Women & Children’s Hospital. Visit www.fallettacompetition.org for all locations and times.