Classical Guitar Weekend, Cleveland, OH, May 20-22, 2011

Jason Vieaux, Guitars International and Cleveland school of Music offers the Classical Guitar weekend, May 20 through 22nd. Featuring concerts, lectures and workshops by:

The lineup, schedules and locations are available at the Guitars International Website.  Indiana Classical Guitar’s online contributor David Conti attended last year’s weekend and offers the following synopsis and review (Thanks Dave!)


I went to the Classical Guitar Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio last weekend and all I can say is “wow.” I got there on Friday night in time to see Nigel North on the lute play an all Dowland program in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s wonderful new Mixon Hall, a great 250 seat acoustically great setting.

Now I love Dowland’s work and North is truly first rate; he plays with just the flesh on his right hand and after I adjusted to the delicate sound of the lute it was fantastic. Everyone is always going on about louder and louder guitars but I can say that volume is not everything as his playing was captivating. I found myself being transported back 450 years to Dowland’s time and the last piece he played was one of my favorites, “Forlorn Hope Fancy.” He also had for sale a box set of 4 cd’s of the complete lute music of Dowland for $25.00. This is over 4 hours of music and I considered it a steal and picked it up.

On Saturday morning I went to Andrea Tacchi’s power point presentation on guitar lutherie. Now this might only be interesting to guitar geeks but I count myself as one and I found it fantastic. It was over 2 hours with the first hour being about his relationship with Robert Bouchet in Paris and the last hour about his shop in Florence. You could hear the passion he has for the guitar and his quest to continue to try to improve the sound and get it as close as possible to the one he “hears in his head.”

Next up was a master class that was free to observers with Jason Vieaux, this was really cool as it was linked to the Royal College of Music in London where there was another Guitar teacher/player whose name escapes me but you could tell he was very, very good and an excellent instructor. They had four students play and the “master” in London would critique the students that played here and Mr. Vieaux would do the same for the students that played in London. This was very interesting and I see this approach being used more as internet connections get faster.

Now a word about Jason Vieaux, this man has a very engaging personality and the way he interacts with students was great. His passion for the guitar, like Andrea Tacchi, was evident. He has a lot of natural charisma and I can see him being able to take the guitar in America to a wide audience. I would love to see him do an album with Bela Fleck or Edgar Meyer and perform at some of the big festivals to showcase the guitar to a wide audience and take the classical guitar to the next level in public awareness since most people, let alone other “regular” guitar players don’t know what a great instrument the classical guitar is. Getting to see Jason Vieaux play his Gernot Wagner double top up close in a small room was really neat. This guitar sounded fantastic but of course most of that is the guy behind the wheel. But when he dug in that double top was amazing – lots of tonal variation and dynamics and plenty of volume. He presented plenty of tips and just observing the class was worth the trip as I had plenty to practice when I got home. The students that played were all very good – they reminded me that my synapses respond a little slower than they used to as the students all picked up on suggestions very quickly. (I did grow up in the 70’s !)

The last recital I saw was with Daniel Lippel and soprano Tony Arnold. I only got to stay for the first half as I had to high tale it back to Indy. Lippel played on his Robert Ruck guitar and a Bernhard Kresse 19th century Stauffer reproduction. These artists were again first rate musicians and I am sorry I couldn’t stay for the second half. The program included Schubert lieder and other songs by Vineet Shende and Judah Adashi arranged in a large over arching song cycle.

The stuff I missed: Dan Lippel master class, Nigel North master class, Duo Melis master class and performance, Contemporary Guitar Exhibit and my biggest regret – not being able to see Vieaux perform. I always seem to miss him – as I was sick when he played in Bloomington not too long ago – but it gives me something to look forward to.

Kudos go to Armin Kelly and the staff at the Cleveland Institute of Music. I am going to block out the entire May weekend next year as there is too much stuff that is wonderful and lot’s of it for free! If you are anywhere close make sure you mark Classical Guitar Weekend on your calendar.

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