JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

Information on the 2020 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition coming soon!

Results of the 2018 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

It was a monumental evening, as Bokyung Byun, TY Zhang and Congyi Zhang performed their solo pieces for the audience. After careful deliberation, South Korea native Bokyun Byun was awarded first prize, the first woman in Falletta Competition history to receive it. She also took the Musician’s Choice Award. TY Zhang earned second place and Audience Favorite. Congyi Zhang took third place and was also the inaugural winner of the William and Carol Greiner Award, created to encourage Competitors to present lesser-heard works.

Byun will receive a solo concert at the Fondazione La Società dei Concerti in a recital among the series “Winners!” of Incontri Musicali at Gaber Auditorium in Milano, Italy, along with a $10,000 cash prize, national and international broadcast exposure, and a return engagement with the BPO.

Byun began playing guitar at age 6. At the age of 11, she began going on concert tours in Korea. By her teen years, she had won competitions held by the Korea Guitar Association, the Music Association of Korea, and the Guitar Foundation of America. She was the first guitarist ever to be admitted to Juilliard’s undergraduate guitar program. She is now pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Southern California as the recipient of the prestigious International Artist Fellowship. She is 23. Byun performed Concerto pour Guitare et Petit Orchestra by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Salseado from Sonata for Guitar by Roberto Sierra.

The JoAnn Falletta International Guitar concerto Competition was also honored to present Liona Boyd with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Boyd, known as “The First Lady of Classical Guitar,” was on hand to accept, and to witness Byun’s win.

The 2018 semi-finalists were:

  • Jack Cimo, a seasoned chamber musician and soloist who has been active in competitions as both an organizer and competitor, representing the United States
  • Bokyung Byun, a multi-competition winner and doctoral candidate at University of Southern California who has been performing publicly since age 11, representing South Korea
  • Igor Klokov, a graduate student at Mainz Hochschule fur Musik/Koblenz and winner of many guitar competitions in Europe, representing Russia
  • Junhong Kuang, a 17 year old who has recorded for Naxos and won top prizes in the ARD Music Competition, representing China
  • Bradly Pupa, a faculty member at California Conservatory of Music and a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory, representing the United States
  • Chinnawat Themkumwun, a 37-time prizewinner in Asia and Europe, representing Thailand
  • Congyi Zhang, a graduate student at Mannes School of Music and frequent performer throughout Canada and the United States, representing China
  • Tengyue “TY” Zhang, the first-prize winner of the 2017 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artists Competition, representing China

Several of the competitors answered the challenge of the William and Carol Greiner Award. As a result, three works were heard in the semi-finals for the first time: Concerto for Guitar by Malcolm Arnold; Concierto Antillano by Ernesto Cordero, and Concierto Elegiaco by Leo Brouwer. The Arnold and the Cordero works have never been performed in Buffalo at all.

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.

The William R. and Carol A. Greiner Award

The award will be US $3,000.00 to any competitor advancing to the Final Round with a concerto from Category A.

The purpose of this prize is to encourage guitarists to broaden the vision of concerto repertoire while exposing orchestral audiences to magnificent works for guitar and orchestra not commonly heard.

This award shall go to any competitor who has entered the competition and advances to the Final Round with a concerto from Category A. In the event that more than one competitor advances to the Final Round with a work from Category A, the award shall be shared equally among them. If no competitor advances with a Category A concerto, the Prize shall not be awarded.

Please note that this award is in addition to any First, Second or Third Prize awarded in the event.

Category A Category B
Malcolm Arnold, Guitar Concerto, Opus 67 (1959) Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 99 (9139)
Leo Brouwer, Concierto Elegiaco (1986) Manuel Ponce, Concierto del Sur (1941)
Leo Brouwer, Concierto de Toronto (1987) Joaquin Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez (1939)
Ernesto Cordero, Concierto Antillana Joaquin Rodrigo, Fantasia para un Gentilhombre (1954)
Michael Colina, Goyescana (2010) Heitor Villa-Lobos, Concerto pour Guitarre et Petit Orchestre (1951)
Roberto Sierra, Folias (1995)  




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

We applaud your generous support in 2018!


Mark Chason and Mariana Botero Chason
Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Diina
Drs. John Kucera and Susan Graham
Mr. & Mrs. Dennis McCarthy
Mr. Joseph Mihelick and Ms. Jerilyn Schaller
Ms. Christye Peterson & Mr. Peter J. Grogan


Dr. Michael and Mrs. Mara Endl
Jane A. Liebner in Memory of Dennis P. Malone
Judge Frederick and Mrs. Jody Marshall
Dennis P. Quinn
David and Carolyn Russell


Diane J. Andriaccio
Ms. Marion S. Fay
Dr. Carole S. Petro
Robert & Carole Ann Sackett
Dale Wettlaufer and Carolynn Kidd


Bruce Kovach
Thomas & Dorothea Obst

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, 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:




Judges for the 2018 Competition

Francisco Bernier

Considered by critics as one of the world’s leading classical guitarists of his generation, Francisco Bernier has gone on to forge a successful and prize-winning career throughout the years. His achievements led him to perform in over 35 countries around the globe.
Finalist in the Concert Artist Guild of New York and recipient of more than 20 international prizes including the “Michele Pittaluga” Competition, Francisco Bernier has performed with many orchestras, such as the Camerata of Saint Petersburg, the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, the Mediterranean Symphonic Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra of Vallés, the Symphonic Orchestra of Huelva and the Berkeley Symphony of San Francisco conducted by Kent Nagano.
He began his musical studies at the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Seville and he then moved to France to continue his musical studies at the Ecole Normale “Alfred Cortot” in Paris under the direction of Maestro Alberto Ponce. He received his Superior Diploma of Execution and Concert Performer with distinction by means of a unanimous decision by the jury.
From 1998 to 2002, Francisco continued his excellent education at the Hochschule für Musik of Cologne (Germany), at the Université du Québec in Montréal (Canada), and at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris (France).
In September of 2009, Francisco successfully recorded in Canada with the Naxos Company.His interest in contemporary music has led him to remain in contact with great composers of our time, such as Luis de Pablo, José M. Sánchez Verdú, Cesar Ca marero, and José Manuel López amongst others. He is also a member of the Zahir Ensemble.In addition, Francisco Bernier is a laureate of various foundations, such as the Meyer Foundation, Beracasa and BNP- PARIBAS (France), “la Caixa” Foundation (Spain), and the Emma Contestabile Foundation (Italy).
In 2014, he was included in the top list of Spanish artists performing abroad with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Francisco currently teaches at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Seville. He is the Artistic Director of the Seville Guitar Festival and General Director of Contrastes Records (London).

Irina Kulikova

Michael Newman

Michael Newman, a graduate of Mannes College of Music, currently serves on the guitar and chamber music faculty at Mannes. He is a half of the longstanding guitar duo Newman and Oltman.

Newman & Oltman’s contributions to the world of music have been recognized by grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and other national and international organizations, including the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

The Duo has served as Ensemble-in-Residence at New York’s Mannes College The New School of Music since 1987. They are artistic advisors to the D’Addario Foundation Performance Series at Carnegie Hall and are the 2013-2014 Alan and Wendy Pesky Artists-in-Residence at Lafayette College.

Newman and Oltman’s concert tours have taken them to world cultural capitals and premiere venues across five continents. The Duo has demonstrated extraordinary stylistic breadth in their collaborations with such diverse artists as composer/conductor Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, fiddler Eileen Ivers, pianist Clarice Assad, violinist Tim Fain, and the ETHEL, Calder, and Turtle Island string quartets.

Highlights of recent and upcoming performances include the world premiere of Concierto Buenos Aires composed for the Duo by Nuevo Tango Master Daniel Binelli with l’Orchestre de l’Opéra de Reims in France. Following on the success of the Concierto’s French debut the Duo “charmed the Ferguson audience with phenomenal musicianship” (Gazette Journal) when they performed it with the Virginia Symphony. Last season their international travels included a performance and lecture at the VI Academic Guitar Symposium in Curita, Brazil. Summer 2013 brought Newman & Oltman to several Italian venues, which included a performance and master class at the Estate Musicale Frentana/Lanciano International Guitar Seminar. They also performed and taught at the Volterra Guitar Project and were the featured performers at Rocca Sillana in San Dalmazio. Other appearances include the University of Wisconsin, University of Southern Mississippi, and the Iserlohn Germany International Guitar Symposium.

Through their groundbreaking new music-commissioning program, Newman & Oltman have built a unique repertoire of works for two guitars by leading and emerging composers such as Paul Moravec, Augusta Read Thomas, Lowell Liebermann, Dušan Bogdanović, Arthur Kampela, and Roberto Sierra. The recording features a collection of world premieres commissioned by the duo over the past decade.

Sean Samimi

Sean completed his music studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California (BM, MM, GC in classical guitar performance, and courses in Audio Engineering and Arts Management).

Sean joined the Los Angeles office of the renowned artist agency Opus 3 Artists, LLC in 2009 and assisted its management with a large number of distinguished instrumental soloists and conductors—in the process, building up a network of music industry professionals from around the world. He joined the Philharmonic Society of Orange County in 2013 as an Artistic Administrator, overseeing operations and programming of instrumental soloists, chamber music ensembles, and orchestras. As a Board Member and Artistic Advisor of the Laguna Beach Music Festival (in partnership with Laguna Beach Live!), he led the 2015 festival’s programming and production to its first ever sold-out performances in their 13-year history. Having earned the confidence and trust of many artists combined with a vast knowledge of artists and repertoire that he has become known for, Sean founded Aranjuez Artists, Inc. in 2015 to represent them nationally and internationally. He is frequently invited to give lectures on music business industry topics related to arts and non-profit management, artist management, careers in music, and developing entrepreneurial skills. He’s been invited to give music business and entrepreneurship lectures at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, 2016 Guitar Masters Festival and International Competition (Wrocław, Poland), 2018 Miami International GuitART Festival and Chapman University’s Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music where he’ll be returning again in fall of 2017. His background in audio recording, A&R, and artist management has made him a favorite candidate among festivals and competitions to invite for jury duty. Recent distinguished festival and competitions invitations include Olsztyn Guitar Festival (Poland) and 2016 Guitar Masters International Competition.

Eric Sessler

Eric Sessler received his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School and his Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He is a 1993 Curtis graduate, having studied composition with Samuel Adler, David Diamond, and Ned Rorem.

Dr. Sessler’s recent projects include a new work for Jason Vieaux; a flute concerto for Jeffrey Khaner and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra; a string quartet for the Dover Quartet; and a duet for flute and guitar for the 2014 National Flute Association Convention. He has received numerous awards, including the ASCAP Foundation Award, the Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Theodore Presser Music Foundation Award; and grants from American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, and the Philadelphia Music Project. His music is recorded on ACA Digital Recording, New Focus Recordings, and Musicaphon Records; and is published by Silver Sun Press, Verlag Neue Musik, and Les Productions d’OZ.

In addition to his work at Curtis, Dr. Sessler serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School’s pre-college division. Dr. Sessler joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1999.

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

Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio use Savarez Strings exclusively.

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.




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.


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.


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.



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.



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.


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.


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.