JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

We are now accepting applications for the 2018 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition! If you are a classical guitarist at the onset of your career and are not represented by major artist management, we invite you to apply. Download and review these forms, and submit them by April 1, 2018.

Application Form 2018
Falletta Competition Rules

 

 

Named in honor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music Director, the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition was launched in 2004 by PBS member station WNED and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It was the world’s first concerto competition for classical guitarists with accompaniment by a full symphony orchestra.  The Falletta Competition was established to help identify and encourage talented young classical guitarists and help them on their musical journeys. Every two years, it brings international guitarists to Buffalo, New York for one week to perform publicly.

Thank you to the Friends of Falletta who made this event possible!

We applaud your generous support in 2016!

Diamond Level

Mark Chason and Mariana Botero Chason

Dr. Dennis B. Chugh and Dr. Lynn M. Cieslak

Dr. Timothy D. DeZastro

Mr. and Mrs. Anthony N. Diina

Joan M. Doerr

Mr. Peter Grogan and Ms. Christye Peterson

Carlos and Judith Jimenez

Drs. Jon Kucera and Susan Graham

Kalista S. Lehrer

Dennis P. Quinn

Platinum Level

Dr. Michael and Mrs. Mara Endl

Jane A. Liebner — In memory of Dennis P. Malone

Sandra and Dennis McCarthy

Dr. Joseph and Mrs. Suzanne Murphy

Carolyn and David Russell

Dale Wettlaufer and Carolyn Kidd

Gold Level

Anonymous – In Memory of Reverend Phillip Gittings

Dr. and Mrs. Bruce and Gail Johnstone

Silver Level

Anonymous – In Memory of Reverend Phillip Gittings (2)

Diane J. Andriaccio

Judge Frederick and Mrs. Jody Marshall

 

 

Benefits of Membership include:

Diamond Level – $1,000 Membership Fee

  • Four prime, reserved seats for each of the semifinals in the WNED/WBFO Studios.
  • Four prime, reserved seats for the finals round at Kleinhans Music Hall.
  • Admittance to the post-concert VIP reception immediately following the finals. You and your guests will mingle with JoAnn, the competitors and judges while you enjoy beverages and dessert at this special gathering.
  • As a souvenir of this event, you will receive a commemorative Competition poster signed by JoAnn and all eight semifinalists.
  • Four copies of the BPO double-disc recording Stars of the Guitar.
  • A special Friends thank you will appear in the Competition program and on the website.

Platinum Level – $500 Membership Fee

  • Two reserved seats for each of the semifinals in the WNED/WBFO Studios.
  • Two reserved seats for the finals round at Kleinhans Music Hall.
  • Admittance to the post-concert VIP reception immediately following the finals. You will mingle with JoAnn, the competitors and judges while you enjoy beverages and dessert at this special gathering.
  • As a souvenir of this event, you will receive a commemorative Competition poster signed by JoAnn and all eight semifinalists.
  • A special Friends thank you will appear in the Competition program and on the website.

Gold Level – $250 Membership Fee

  • Two reserved seats for each of the semifinals in the WNED/WBFO Studios.
  • A commemorative Competition poster signed by JoAnn and all eight semifinalists.
  • A special Friends thank you will appear in the Competition program and on the website.

Silver Level – $50 + Membership Fee

 

  •  You will receive a commemorative Competition poster signed by JoAnn and all eight semifinalists. A special Friends thank you will appear in the Competition program and on the website.

 

For pianists, there’s the Van Cliburn Competition; for violinists, it’s the Paganini Competition; for classical guitarists, the premier concert platform for launching international careers is the Falletta Competition. Named in honor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Music Director, the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition was launched in 2004 by PBS member station WNED and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It was the world’s first concerto competition for classical guitarists with accompaniment by a full symphony orchestra.  The Falletta Competition was established to help identify and encourage talented young classical guitarists and help them on their musical journeys. Every two years, it brings international guitarists to Buffalo, New York for one week to perform publicly in competition for cash prizes, a recording contract, national and international broadcast exposure, and a return engagement with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for young musicians who have dedicated themselves to their art and who are serious about pursuing careers not only as international performing and recording artists, but also as concert soloists.

In addition to bringing recognition to highly-skilled young classical guitarists, WNED and the BPO seek to promote music appreciation and enhance the visibility of the cultural arts in Western New York through the production and broadcast – both nationally and internationally – of television and radio programs about the competition.

“In this competition, we celebrate our finalists as superb visiting artists. Buffalo is happy to welcome them, and to enjoy their excellent music-making in the semifinal rounds and in the final concert with the Philharmonic. Their presence enriches our region, and we hope that the competition will ultimately increase the presence of the classical guitar on orchestral stages throughout the world.”

– JoAnn Falletta
Classical Guitar Magazine, November 2006

“Stars of the Guitar” has been ten years in the making. Recorded live at the finals of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, this double disc gathers together the essential guitar concertos as performed by some of today’s most exciting artists. It was released on the BPO’s own Beau Fleuve label in December 2015, and is available at the BPO box office, or online.

Here’s what the critics say about this disc:

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Castellani Andriaccio

Joanne Castellani and Michael Andraccio

Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio have enjoyed a celebrated career as one of the foremost guitars duos in the world. The Duo has recorded seven acclaimed CDs, two named “Best of the Year” by Fanfare Magazine and American Record Guide, including two world premiere recordings of works by Roberto Sierra with the Israel Chamber Orchestra. Critics around the globe from the New York Times to Gramophone Magazine have unanimously praised their, “elegance, style, poise and exquisite taste in interpretation”. The Duo has performed at the White House, the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Recital, the Casals Festival, the Smithsonian Institution and many others. Joanne Castellani has served as Executive Director of Competitions for the Guitar Foundation of America and is on the music faculty of SUNY Buffalo while maintaining a full private teaching studio of traditional and Suzuki students. Michael’s newly released world premiere recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of Goyescana, Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra by three-time Grammy and Ace award winning composer, Michael Colina, is garnering unanimous international critical acclaim.

For more information, please contact Fleur de Son Classics at 716.681.8106 or at www.fleurdeson.com.

Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio use Savarez Strings exclusively.

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JoAnn Falletta

JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. An effervescent and exuberant figure on the podium, she has been praised by The Washington Post as having “Toscanini’s tight control over ensemble, Walter’s affectionate balancing of inner voices, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship, and a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation”, she serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center.

Ms. Falletta is invited to guest conduct many of the world’s finest symphony orchestras. Her upcoming guest conducting highlights include debuts in Begrade (Serbia), Shenzhen China, Sweden, and a European tour with the Stuttgart Orchestra. Recent appearances include return engagements with the Warsaw, Detroit, Phoenix, Krakow, Puerto Rico and Hawaii Symphony Orchestras and debuts with the Gothenburg Symphony, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, and a 13 city US tour with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and soloist James Galway.
Falletta is the recipient of many of the most prestigious conducting awards including the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award, the coveted Stokowski Competition, and the Toscanini, Ditson and Bruno Walter Awards for conducting, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra League’s prestigious John S. Edwards Award. She is an ardent champion of music of our time, introducing over 500 works by American composers, including more than 110 world premieres. Hailing her as a “leading force for the music of our time”, she has been honored with twelve ASCAP awards. Ms. Falletta serves as a Member of the National Council on the Arts.
Under her direction, the Buffalo Philharmonic is continuing its trajectory as one of the most recorded orchestras in America. During the 2013 – 14 season, Naxos released four new BPO CDs. In 2014-15, Naxos plans to release two new BPO discs of the music of Bela Bartok and Florent Schmitt. The BPO also recorded music of Sibelius for its own Beau Fleuve label. Performance highlights include Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle with Dale Chihuly glass installations, a Charles Ives multimedia concert/ exploration, a fully staged Moliere Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme with the Irish Classical Theatre and Rachmaninoff and Beethoven Festivals.

Since stepping up to the podium as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the fall of 1999, Maestro Falletta has been credited with bringing the Philharmonic to a new level of national and international prominence. Under her direction, the Buffalo Philharmonic has become one of the leading orchestras for the Naxos label, earning a double Grammy Award in 2009 for their recording with soprano Hila Plitmann of John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man, and six Grammy nominations. This season, the BPO will once again be featured on national broadcasts of NPR’s Performance Today and SymphonyCast, and international broadcasts through the European Broadcasting Union.

In addition to her current posts with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony and the Brevard Music Center, Ms. Falletta has held the positions of artistic advisor to the Honolulu Symphony, music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, associate conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, and music director of the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Queens Philharmonic and the Women’s Philharmonic. From 2011 – 2014 she served as Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland where she made her debut at London’s prestigious Proms with the orchestra in 2011 and also has made five recordings for Naxos including music of Gustav Holst, Irish composer Ernest John Moeran and American composer John Knowles Paine.

Ms. Falletta received her undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music in New York and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School.

 

Judges for the 2018 Competition

Joanne Castellani

Michael Andriaccio

Others to be announced

2016

The 2016 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition is in the books! Eight competitors representing France, Greece, the United States, Russia, Hungary, Romania and Finland faced off during the semi-finals held on June 8 and 9 at the WNED studios and broadcast live over the air in Western New York and Southern Ontario and available online everywhere. The judges selected 32-year-old Anton Baranov of Russia, 34-year-old Andras Csaki of Hungary, and 21-year-old Alec Holcomb of the United States to move on to the final round on June 11. While the other competitors brought their music into the community during Guitar Day, the finalists rehearsed with the BPO. At the end of the June 11 finals, one man emerged as the clear winner. Anton Baranov was not only awarded first place, but was selected as the musicians’ choice and audience favorite. Andras Csaki was awarded second place, and Alec Holcomb was awarded third place.

Baranov will receive $10,000, a return engagement with the BPO, a solo concert on the prestigious Incontri Musicali series in Milan, and a recording contract for one CD with the Fleur de Son Classics Ltd. label, distributed worldwide by Naxos of America. Csaki will receive $3500 and a medal. Holcomb will receive $1500 and a medal.

2014

The Western New York community was excited to see the sixth edition of the competition kick off. The semifinalists were: Dan Alexandru Ahire of Romania; Chad Ibison of the United States; Ekachai Jearakul of Thailand; Laura Klemke of Germany; Marcin Kuzniar of Poland; Sanel Redžić of Germany and Bosnia; and Marko Topchii of Ukraine. Benjamin Beirs of the United States stepped in for You Wang of China, who was unable to compete.

After an opening reception at Larkinville in South Buffalo, it was down to business for these talented musicians. Over two nights at the WNED studios, eight became three as Ekachai Jearakul, Marko Topchii and Chad Ibison were invited to move on.

On Saturday night, a crowd gathered in Kleinhans Music Hall to experience the talents of these three young men. Each turned in outstanding performances, but there was one in particular who captivated everyone. Marko Topchii went home with First Prize, Audience Favorite and Musicians’ Choice. He earned a return engagement with the BPO, a solo concert at the prestigious series Incontri Musicali, (Musical Encounter) in Milan, Italy in April 2015 along with a $10,000 cash prize, a Carnegie Hall appearance, national and international broadcast exposure, a guitar by Master Luthier J.D Glass, and a recording contract with Fleur de Son.

Ekachai Jearakul, who has won many fans in Buffalo during his previous appearances, placed second. Newcomer Chad Ibison placed third.

2012

The fifth edition of the competition saw a very talented group of classical guitarists selected as semifinalists from more than 30 entries.  They arrived in Buffalo on Sunday, June 3, ready for a week of work, exhaustion and exhilaration!

Greeted by competition Artistic Directors Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio, the eight were given the itinerary for the week.  The guitarists were Petrit Ceku, 27, (Croatia) Andras Csaki.31, (Hungary) Mark Edwards, 28, (USA) Tariq Harb,31, (Canada/Jordan) Ekachai Jearakul, 31, (Thailand) Celil Refik Kaya, 21, (Turkey) Nemanja Ostoich, 28, (Serbia) and Sanel Redzic, 24,(Germany).  Rehearsals were scheduled and the competition was underway!

The 2012 Semifinals  took place in the studios of WNED TV on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  But another level of excitement was added to the competition as both nights of the semifinals were broadcast live on WNED and were seen by audiences in the US and Canada.

The atmosphere was quite tense and the studio audience was feeling the same way. The  competitors did not learn who would advance to the finals until the last performance of the semifinals on the second night. Finally the esteemed panel of judges made their decisions and the three finalists were announced and brought up on stage by Music Director Joann Falletta.

Petrit Ceku, Ekatchai Jearakul and Celil Refik Kaya advanced to the finals, held Saturday June 9th at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo. The  finalists would each play a solo piece in  front of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Joann Falletta.

While the finalists were busy with rehearsals for the Saturday night performance, the five semifinalists spent Friday in the community, bringing classical guitar music to many who might not be able to attend the Saturday performance.

Saturday night saw three very memorable performances.  Each finalist brought deep skill, interpretation and emotion to this wonderful evening.  After each finalist performed, he was invited to play a piece of his choosing (not judged)- a bonus that delighted the audience.

Late that evening, the  judges made their decision:  The winner was Celil Refik Kaya from Turkey, currently residing in the United States and studying at the Mannes School in NYC.
Petrit Ceku (Croatia) was second and he received both the audience favorite and the musicians favorite honors.  Ekachai Jerakul of Thailand placed third.

 

2010

Another fabulous competition, enthusiastically received by classical music fans everywhere was set to begin after months of planning- the fourth annual JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, was off and running on June 1, 2010.
Selected from a field of 40 competitors, the nine semi finalists representing eight nations, were anxious to perform!

The extraordinary semifinalists were Benjamin Beirs,(USA) Artyom Dervoed, (Russia) JeanFrancois Desrosby, (Canada) Mark Edwards, (USA), Ekachai Jearakul, (Thailand)
Samuel T. Klemke, (Germany) Edel Munoz, (Cuba), Nemanja Ostojic, (Serbia) and Thomas Viloteau, (France).

The two exciting days of semifinal competition to advance to the final round of three competitors began on June 2.  After two nights of exceptional performances, the final three were named.

Finally the moment arrived and finalists were announced: Artyom Dervoed of Russia, Nemanja Ostojic of Serbia and Thomas Viloteau of France.

Friday, June 4 at 7:30 PM, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra led by music director JoAnn Falletta was  ready, as were the artists.  After three memorable performances, the judges went to work and the winner was announced by JoAnn Falletta- Artyom Dervoed of Russia!  He also received the Audience Favorite Award.

But that was not the end!  The semifinalists who did not advance participated in “Guitar Days,” the community outreach that was added to the competition in 2008.  The program allows many more area residents the opportunity to enjoy classical guitar music at its finest level.

 

2008

The momentum of the Competition continued!  The City of Buffalo greeted 2008’s Competitors and Judges with open arms and demonstrated it by purchasing more tickets than ever before.

There were many firsts in 2008’s Competition beginning with not only one but two female guitarists competing.  Artist Hugo Rodriguez was welcomed as the official artist of the Competition and his vibrant artwork graced the Competition’s print promotion, Kleinhans stage and in the Buffalo/Niagara Airport Art Gallery.  A community outreach program titled Guitar Days was added to the roster of events which sent the international guitarists out into the community to perform at various locations including Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Chautauqua Institution, Barnes and Noble, Orchard Park High School along master classes presented at the Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Perhaps the most exciting addition to 2008’s Competition was its live local broadcast of the semi-finals on WNED-FM which was also a live international broadcast via the WNED website.  It reinforced the Competition as a world class event and allowed the competitors’ fans, friends and family back home the opportunity to listen to their performances live from Buffalo, NY.

2008’s judge panel included world-renowned guitarist Eduardo Fernandez, president of the Guitar Foundation of America Brian Head, leading classical guitarist David Leisner, host of radio show Classical Guitar Alive! Tony Morris, and Spanish guitar virtuoso Enrique Muñoz Teruel.

The 3 competitors who advanced to the finals were Benjamin Beirs representing the U.S., Laura Klemke representing Germany and three-time semifinalist Marco Sartor representing Uruguay.  After three magnificent performances with the full Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Laura Klemke was honored by the orchestra with the Musicians Award and Marco Sartor took the Audience Favorite Award and named 1st place winner of the Competition.

2006

The 2nd biennial JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition continued to build on the success of the first one.  The momentum continued and delivered us back to Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY with another world-class event.  It was hard to believe that two years had passed since the inaugural year and 2006’s competition solidified the competition’s place as one of the foremost musical events in the entire world.

The 2006 judge panel welcomed back Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio who continued to serve as co-directors of the competition, classically trained musician and owner of Dusman Audio, Inc. David Dusman and Classical 94.5/WNED-FM program host John Landis.  New to the panel were free-lance composer Miguel del Aquila, guitarist and program director for the Orange County Guitar Circle Jeff Cogan, winner of the first competition Marcin Dylla, critically acclaimed producer David Frost and international classical guitarist Eduardo Pascual Diez.

Ten of the finest guitarists on the planet, representing Peru, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Uruguay and the US, participated and the international panel of esteemed judges faced the difficult but wonderful challenge of whom to bestow first place prize. It was the 2nd place winner of 2004’s event, Pablo Garibay of Mexico, who stood onstage besides JoAnn Falletta and took a bow as the winner of the 2nd JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition.

2004

The inaugural JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition was a spectacular event that grabbed the attention of the guitar community around the globe.  The first ever guitar concerto competition received such an overwhelming response that it truly served as a testament of the need for such a competition.  It also paid tribute to the international appeal of Buffalo Philharmonic conductor JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic itself.

The 2004 judge panel included Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio whom are regarded as one of the elite chamber ensembles on the music scene today and also co-directors of the competition, composer Jack Behrens, Grammy nominated guitarist Carlos Bonell, classically trained musician and owner of Dusman Audio, Inc. David Dusman, associate professor of guitar at Florida State University Bruce Holzman, Classical 94.5/WNED-FM program host John Landis and one of the leading composers of his generation Roberto Sierra.

The semifinalists whom performed before the judge panel hailed from Canada, Mexico, Germany, Urugay, Argentina, Poland, Sweden, Brazil and the US. In the end, it was Marcin Dylla of Poland who captured the title of first ever winner of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition.

Anton Baranov

Russian guitarist Anton Baranov is the winner of the 2013 Guitar Foundation of America Competition and more than 20 other prestigious contests around the globe.

His performances in a number of distinguished halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York City, Palau de Musica in Valencia, Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg and Hakuju Hall in Tokyo have been described by musical critics as “pure magic” (Cleveland Classical), as Baranov  “manages to paint beautiful sound pictures of rich depth and color with his guitar.” (The Guitar).

Anton’s recordings include one album for Naxos Classical and a CD for Contrastes Records. Naxos released Latin American Guitar Sonatas in May 2014. His Contrases Records album, released in August 2014, consists of Spanish guitar music. Baranov was born in 1984 and started playing guitar at the age of 10. He completed his musical education at the oldest and most famous Russian school of music, the Saint-Petersburg State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, where he has had a teaching position since his graduation in 2010. Baranov has been a D’Addario artist since 2013 and plays a Max Cuker guitar.

Silviu Octavian Ciulei

Classical guitarist Silviu Octavian Ciulei was born in Constanta, Romania. He began his musical studies at 6 and attended the High School of Arts in Constanta. In 2004, Ciulei was awarded a full international scholarship to study in the United States at Middle Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN. He received his bachelor of music in guitar performance under the instruction of Dr. William Yelverton. He went on to receive his master of music degree in 2010 and recently completed a doctor of music from Florida State University. During his doctorate studies, he acted as graduate teaching assistant to Professor Bruce Holzman. Ciulei was honored as the recipient of a Graduate Dean’s Fellowship, which is the highest award given to a guitar student at FSU.

He has performed in master classes for Elliot Fisk, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mala, Sergio and Odair Assad, Pavel Steidl, Paul Galbraith, and many more.

He has won top prizes at Parkening International Guitar Competition, Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition, Indiana International Guitar Competition, Texas International Guitar Competition and Festival and Schadt String International Competition.

Thomas Csaba

Thomas Csaba first studied classical guitar with Jean-Baptiste Savary in Paris and joined the Michel Grizard class at the Nantes Conservatory, where he went on to win the conservatory guitar prize. In 2007, he won the first prize and audience prize at the Coria International Competition in Spain.

In 2012, Csaba completed his masters degree with honors at the Paris National Superior Conservatory. During his years as a student, Thomas won fourth prize at the Iserlohn International Competition in Germany and two third prizes in Vienna, Austria and Barbezieux, France. He currently studies with Judicael Perroy.

Csaba performs solo and chamber music throughout Europe. In addition to his musical studies, he studies fine arts, which has allowed him to collaborate with stage actors and visual artists.

In 2014, Csaba won the Guitar Foundation of America second prize, and the third prize at the Festival de la Guitarra de Sevilla. He also won first prize at the Nagoya and Tokyo International Guitar Competition, which allows him the opportunity to perform in Japan and Indonesia.

Thomas’s first recording, Another Troy for Her, was released in January 2016.

Andras Csaki

Andras Csaki is an internationally recognized Hungarian classical guitarist. He currently serves as an Associate Professor at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, the school from which he graduated in 2007.

He has studied with József Eötvös, Scott Tennant and William Kanengiser. As a post-graduate student at the University of Southern California, Csaki frequently had the opportunity to participate in master classes and private lessons with Pepe Romero.

He has given recitals throughout Europe, the United States, South America, Japan and China. By 2011, he had been awarded 11 first prizes, including the 51st Tokyo International Guitar Competition in 2008, the Michele Pittaluga Guitar Competition in Alessandria, Italy in 2009 and the Julian Arcas Guitar Competition in Spain in 2011.

Aside from solo recitals, Csaki is devoted to chamber music. He has also had several opportunities to play guitar concertos with symphonic orchestras in Hungary and abroad.

Alec Holcomb

Alec Holcomb has delighted audiences across the United States, performed on National Public Radio, and earned first prize in numerous guitar competitions.

His musicianship flourished under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Zohn. In the years that followed, he won several high school division competitions across the U.S., including the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition (2012). He was featured on NPR’s From the Top (2012), and was selected as a Young Arts Finalist (2013).

In 2013, he was accepted into the studio of David Starobin and Jason Vieaux at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he is pursing a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance. While at Curtis, Holcomb has appeared on WHYY in Philadelphia, played an array of concerts, and has continued to participate in guitar competitions. Recent first-prize wins include the East Carolina Guitar Competition (2014) and the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competition (2015). He received fourth prize at the Parkening International Guitar Competition (2015). Most recently, he won second place at Columbus State University Guitar Competition (2016).

Paul Psarras

Paul Psarras has embraced a range of musical styles throughout his young career, from Baroque music on period instruments, to modern masterworks of the guitar, to chamber works of all styles. Rooted in Greek music, Psarras also sings and performs on the oud.

In 2012, he earned an invitation to the GRAMMYS for his role in the recording of Kingdoms of Castille with El Mundo, and later that year, he performed with the San Francisco Opera’s Merola program. Previous performances include an appearance with the San Francisco Symphony and conductor/composer John Adams in his oratorio El Nino. As a member of the Pacific Guitar Ensemble, a cast of all-star guitarists, he toured the San Francisco Bay area playing his piece “Alkioni for Oud and Guitars.”As a soloist, he has appeared with various orchestras performing the Concierto de Aranjuez. In 2014, he performed at the Fête de la Musique in Switzerland and was featured on RTS (Radio Television Swiss).

A graduate of the professional studies program with an emphasis in early music performance practice, Psarras completed his studies at the San Francisco Conservatory where he has also earned a bachelor and master of music, respectively.

Oscar Somersalo

Oscar Somersalo was born in 1990 in Vantaa, Finland. Somersalo began studying the guitar at the age of 6 at East-Helsinki Music Institute under the guidance of Paul Pajarinen, and later continued his studies in Italy with Carlo Ambrosio. In 2012, he completed his bachelor of music degree at the Sibelius Academy under the direction of Andrzej Wilkus. He finished his graduate performance diploma under the guidance of Manuel Barrueco at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

In 2008, Somersalo performed at Tucsia Guitar Festival in Italy and in 2009 at the Chamber Music Festival in Kauhava, Finland. In 2009 he won second prize at the International Guitar Competition “Cuidad de Llerena” in Spain. In 2011, he performed with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Helsinki and in 2014 with Panama National Symphony Orchestra in Panama City. Somersalo also performed solo concerts and held a masterclass during the Panama Guitar Festival in 2014. In the United States, Somersalo has performed for a variety of audiences, including the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society.

He is currently pursuing his master of music degree under Mauel Barrueco at Peabody Institue of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

Thomas Viloteau

Thomas took his first lesson at the age of 12. He was inspired by listening to Naxos recordings and set his sights on having such a recording of his own. Viloteau took his studies to the international level, seeking the guidance of such professionals as Alvaro Pierri, Alberto Ponce, Judicael Perroy, Tom Patterson, Rolad Dyens, Nicholas Goluses, Paul O’Dette, and Marc Teicholz.

He has placed in numerous international competitions, taking first prize in Segovia Competition, Mottola, Ville d’Antony and Sernancelhe. In 2006, he reached his goal of recording with Naxos when he won the first prize at the Guitar Foundation of American International Competition. In 2012, he won the first prize at the Francisco Tarrega Competition in Benicassim.

Viloteau has written a book titled In the Black Box – Technique(s) of the Classical Guitar. He has released several recordings with Naxos, La Ma de Guido and Mel Bay. In 2015, he produced his own recording, “Dances Through the Centuries.”

He is currently finishing his doctoral studies at the Eastman School of Music. He uses Savarez strings and plays on guitars made by Greg Smallman and Bastien Burlot.