A report on the 2011 Guitare Montréal Festival

Guitare Montréal 2011 was held between April 29 – May 1, at Université Concordia. It is the brainchild of Patrick Kearney, the energetic and tireless presence in Montreal who, for many years, forged Guitare Lachine. This festival has now evolved into Guitare Montréal, certainly one of Canada’s best festivals, and which is rapidly attracting high-level talent to its Youth and International Competitions. I had the pleasure of performing, teaching, and judging the international competition alongside Andrew Zohn (Columbus, GA), Eugene Cormier (Wolfville, NS), Roddy Elias (Ottawa, ON), and Arnaud Dumond (Paris, France). Four finalists took three prizes – Jérôme Mouffe and Tariq Harb tied for first place, Piotr Pakhomkim took second, and Milosz Maczynski took third. In the semi-finals round, Mouffe played the Brouwer

Sonata and Regondi Introduction et Caprice Op. 23 (two works that have embedded their way into the competition circuit) and displayed great musicianship and character, and with his Smallman guitar, ample volume. Harb played the first movement of the Jose Sonata and Coste Fantaisie Dramatique Op. 31 with exceptional musicianship and technical accuracy, but with a smaller sound. Pakhomkim performed a Scarlatti Sonata, Mertz Fantaisie Hongroise Op. 65, and Villa-Lobos Etude 7, with admirable technical accuracy and a warm, engaging sound. Maczynski played the Variations on Traviata by Tarrega (I still fail to comprehend why people don’t refer to the Arcas original and continue to play the wrong notes at the beginning of the Tarrega version). Maczynski also performed a piece that deserves much more attention: Tansman’s Passacaglia – perhaps his best work; this player brought many unique ideas and commanded an intimate and musical rendering. There were many fine players that did not advance to the finals. In particular, Francis Brunet-Turcotte, who expertly played the Prelude to Bach’s Suite 995 and part of the Suite by Hetu, or David Ross, who performed Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba with great intensity, stood out. Guitare Montréal’s opening concert included Julian Geisterfer (winner of last years Youth Competition) presenting Albeniz and Scarlatti. Ramiro Martinez Pina, a wonderful player from Mexico, was unable to come at the last moment and was admirably replaced by Iona Gandrabur who played Regondi Reverie Op. 19 and Rodrigo Invocacion y Danza. Gandrabur is a virtuoso player with great gifts, and her masterclass was well attended. I was honored to end this program with a set of six Caprichos de Goya of Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The next night featured Arnuad Dumond, whose signature style includes well-known guitar pieces in personal adaptions and which morph into his own compositional creations. The final concert was two separate guitar orchestras: l’Orchestre de la Société de Guitare de Montréal directed by Dave Pilon, and l’Orchestre de Marguerite de la Jemmerais directed by David Gaudreau. Masterclasses (which next year will be only Friday and Saturday) by Patrick Kearney, Roddy Elias, Alexander Dunn, Iona Gandrabur and Arnaud Dumond rounded out an excellent festival. Guitare Montréal will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year – félicitations GM!

Report by Alexander Dunn

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