Summer Guitar Academy 2018

VCM Summer Guitar Academy 2018 held on July 24th-July 28th in Victoria, brought together guitar lovers of all ages and an exceptional faculty from Canada and the United States: Alexander Dunn (Victoria), Randy Pile (San Clemente), Michael Kolk (Toronto), and Steve Cowan (Montreal). The Young Learners Program was led by Natasha Pashchenko (Victoria).

SGA warmly thanks Marissa Kitson, Joshua Amendt-Moylan, Robert Wang, and Simon Farintosh for their assistance and engagement throughout the Academy week.

Guitar Orchestra rehearsals and the Young Learners Program ran daily for two hours, followed by concerts, private lessons, and masterclasses after the lunch break.


July 24th – Alexander Dunn
Guitarist Alexander Dunn presented an impressive all-Ferdinand Rebay chamber program with artists Susan Young (voice), Patricia Kostek (clarinet), and Simon Farintosh (guitar).  The two sonatas and Der Rosengartensong cycle were all Canadian premieres, and the concert was a “snapshot of the huge Rebay repertoire including voice and instruments, rivaling or surpassing in volume the Segovian repertoire such as Ponce, Tedesco, and Torroba.” The final piece was a poem by Emily Dickinson set to music by the young guitarist and composer Robert Wang.

Concert Program

July 25th – Randy Pile
Randy Pile treated the audience to some of the world’s most beloved compositions such as the Five Preludes by Villa-Lobos and Barrios’ La Catedral, among others.  Randy’s gentle and delicate touch had us listening for every phrase. The program was concluded with Brouwer’s ritualistic soundscapes, Rito de los Orishas and Elogio de la Danza.

Concert program

July 26th – Emerging Artists: Razvan Bezna and Christopher Boston
Both the young artists astounded with their technical brilliance and lyricism in a journey through Bach’s fugal loops to Regondi’s flourish-filled phrases to the moving melodies and rhythms of Albeniz.
Concert program

July 27th – Emerging Artists: Robert Wang and Simon Farintosh
Another day of emerging stars adorning the stage with a firework of demanding and complex repertoire. Ranging in era from the Renaissance to 20th century, the program was delivered at a strikingly high level. Dowland, Rodrigo, Regondi, and Dyens were among the lucky composers whose music came to life that day.
Concert program

July 28th 1:30PM – SGA Showcase
The Academy Guitar Orchestra program was a refreshing combination of musical tradition and fantastical genre amalgamation. The concert opened with a presentation of three pieces from the children’s class, followed by participant solos and Astor Piazzolla’s bewitching Libertango arranged for a double guitar quartet by Marissa Kitson.

The two orchestra arrangements by Alexander Dunn elicited a blend of awe, shock, and delight from the audience. The guest artists joked (or did they?) that their quartet parts may have been harder than their solo recital programs.

Tear Eater, an unlikely yet organic fusion of John Dowland’s Lachrimae and Hall & Oates’ Maneater, was but a step towards the upcoming culmination. Third House exploded as a parfait of Scarborough FairHouse of the Rising Sun, and JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no.3, the eight parts weaving their way through the piece in a mad dance of harmonies and rhythms.
Showcase program

July 28th 8PM – Canadian virtuosi: Steve Cowan and Michael Kolk
It was an honour to have the two renowned artists sharing their superb skill and unique performance styles with the audience. Steve acquainted us with a spectrum of masterfully and sensitively interpreted modern music (Poulenc, Milhaud, Martin, and Noble), some written especially for him. A  Bach Allemande, tucked in between, was performed most delicately.

Michael took over the stage with Bach’s known and loved Prelude, Fugue and Allegro followed by Sonata para guitarra by Jose. Michael’s first public performance of this piece, very engaging and energetic, it was celebrated as the ‘main course’ of the program.  For dessert, we were presented with Roland Dyens’ decadent arrangement of Jobim’s Felicidade.
Concert program

The Summer Guitar Academy 2018 was a busy week of intense learning,  performing, having fun and making friends. We are looking forward to next year’s Academy!