The 2011 Guitar Foundation of America International Convention & Competition, June 28-July 3 held in Columbus, GA and hosted by Andrew Zohn, was another highly successful GFA festival with a mixture of top name players, young virtuosos, international concert artist and youth competitions, lectures, classes, a vendor fair and other events, making for a well rounded, exhausting festival. The facilities at the Schwob School of Music proved a beautiful and thankfully air conditioned home for the proceedings. Evening concerts were presented by Alvaro Pierri, David Starobin, SoloDuo, Paul Galbraith, and David Russell. Afternoon concerts were by The Czar’s Guitars, Yiannis Andronoglou, Nigel North, Johannes Möller, Henderson-Kolk Duo, Gaëlle Solal, Luigi Attademo, Rafael Aguirre(!), Ricardo Cobo, Paris Guitar Duo, duo46, and the Guitar Orchestra. A lecture on the music of Jacques Hetu was presented by Victoria guitarist Michael Dias, among other lecture topics. But regrettably I missed many daytime concerts and events as I was sequestered in a room as head juror of the preliminary round. Although I was originally to judge the semis and finals, a schedule issue with Judicael Perroy delayed his arrival, so I agreed to the first round. Alongside Luigi Attademo (Florence), Ricardo Cobo (Las Vegas), Jéremy Jouve (Paris), and Chen Yi (Shanghai) (see photo), we listened to forty competitors play their programs and the fine set piece by Mark Delpriora. From this round, twelve semifinalists (see below, left to right) were selected: Jeremy Collins, Damien Lancelle, Adam Kossler, Silviu Ciulei, Miodrag Zerdoner, Kyuhee Park, Vladimir Gorbach, Artyom Dervoed, Andras Csaki, Piotr Pakhomkin, Srdjan Bulat, Giacomo La Vita. The level of playing was extremely high and the evolution of performances from preliminary through subsequent rounds was fascinating to observe. Some who played quite brilliantly in the preliminary round did not advance to the last stages; some impressive examples were Srdjan Bulat (Zagreb), Miodrag Zerdoner (Sarajevo, now residing in Quebec City), or Artyom Dervoed (Moscow), among others. As the competition evolved and the finalists emerged, many performances were already honed to world-class level.
From the semifinalists, four deserving players advanced and placed as 1st Place: Vladimir Gorbach (Russia), 2nd Place: Andras Csaki (Hungary), 3rd Place: Damien Lancelle (France), 4th Place: Jeremy Collins (USA). This ordering reflected the playing on the day of the finals and judges decisions. But as with all high-level contests, top prizes do not communicate the exceptional artistry and dedication of so many young, talented competitors. The 2012 GFA International Convention & Competition will be held in Charleston, South Carolina,
Report by Alexander Dunn