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by Mike Telin

Vieaux-Jason“This week’s concert is going to be really great,” classical guitarist Jason Vieaux exclaimed during a recent telephone conversation. On Saturday, September 27, beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society will begin its International Series. And in keeping with tradition, the series will kick off with a free Showcase Concert.

Francois Fowler (Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University) will open the program with two of his own compositions, Meditation (2010) and Wavelength Sonata (2013). Robert Gruca will continue the program with music from the baroque era with David Russell’s arrangement of Jean-Baptiste Loeillet’s Suite No. 1. Jason Vieaux, (Cleveland and Curtis Institutes of Music) will conclude the evening with music by Metheny, Jobim, Tarrega and Merlin.

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by James Flood, Daniel Hathaway & Mike Telin

The three-day event formerly known as Classical Guitar Weekend was relaunched as the Cleveland International Guitar Festival this year. Running from Friday, May 30 through Sunday, June 1 at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the festival included masterclasses, lectures, workshops and exhibitions — and five recitals by world-class artists. ClevelandClassical correspondents covered four of the five performances. Their reviews appear below. (We were unable to attend Saturday evening’s performance by SoloDuo.)

Petra Polácková by James Flood

POLACKOVA-PetraCzech guitarist Petra Polácková took the stage for the festival’s opening recital on Friday evening, May 30, with her 8-string Romantic period guitar, a replica by Jan Tulacek of an 1840 instrument by the Viennese builder N.G. Ries. The instrument’s appearance, with two extra strings placed conspicuously well above the guitar neck, along with its unique body shape, would catch the attention of even a complete newcomer to the classical guitar. But the sound was what was even more striking. The smaller body lessened the lower end frequencies, but the instrument had a beguilingly sweet sound. And the character of the guitar fit the character of the performance. Read the rest of this entry »

by Carlyn Kessler, Special Contributor

VIEAUX-LABROOn Sunday, June 1st at 7:30 pm, Jason Vieaux, guitar, and Julien Labro, bandoneón, will close out the 2014 Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival with a dynamic recital at Cleveland Institute of Music’s Mixon Hall.

Vieaux and Labro, who have been collaborating for the past four years, will perform a varied program consisting of works by Brouwer, Gnatalli, Metheny and Piazzolla. In a recent conversation, Vieaux, who is the head of the CIM guitar department, described the formation of their musical duo. Vieaux, who describes himself as a jazz enthusiast, heard Labro playing accordion with his group Hot Club of Detroit four years ago at Cleveland’s Nighttown.

Vieaux said that the group did not intend to transport the audience back to the 1930’s, but instead “used instrumentation as a springboard for new ideas.” Both Vieaux and the crowd were “knocked out” by Labro’s solo playing. Vieaux and Labro chatted after the performance and discovered that they were “fans of a lot of the same kind of music.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway, James Flood & Mike Telin

VIEAUX-JasonWhiteThough packed with lectures, panel discussions, exhibits and master classes, Classical Guitar Weekend, sponsored by Guitars International, centers around a series of solo recitals by international artists. This year’s fetival — the thirteenth — featured Cleveland’s own Jason Vieaux, assisted by three instrumentalists from the Cleveland Institute of Music, the debut of Korean guitarist Jiyeon Kim, the American artist Colin Davin, the Belgian guitarist Raphaëlla Smits in her fourth appearance at the festival, and British-born artist Jonathan Leathwood. The five players offered the Mixon Hall audiences a wide range of repertory to ponder and enjoy.

Jason Vieaux

Representing the host of Classical Guitar Weekend, Cleveland Institute of Music guitar professor Jason Vieaux sometimes caps off the weekend’s activities, but this time was the headliner for Thursday evening’s opening concert. After playing a sweet and beautifully layered performance of Fernando Sor’s Bagatellle, op. 44, no. 3, Vieaux told the audience that he had decided to revisit repertory he had played over the years at Classical Guitar Weekend, after working on some of the pieces on the program with students and recalling how much he liked them. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

VIEAUX-JasonWhiteOn Thursday, May 23rd beginning at 8:00 pm in CIM’s Mixon Hall, Classical Guitar Weekend kicks off its 2013 edition with a recital by Jason Vieaux that features the music of Paganini, Piazzolla, Ponce, and Sor. Vieaux, who heads the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Guitar department and serves on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, will be joined by hi CIM colleagues violinist Jinjoo Cho, violist Jeffrey Irvine, and cellist Melissa Kraut.

On Friday, May 24 beginning at 9:00 am, also in Mixon Hall, Vieaux will lead a master class via Distance Learning. Guitar students from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Royal Danish Academy of Music will perform on and off site via CIM’s innovative Distance Learning audio/video hook up and be coached by Jesper Sivebak, head of the RDAM guitar department.

Since winning the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Competition at the age of nineteen, Jason Vieaux has earned a reputation for putting his expressive gifts and virtuosity at the service of a remarkably wide range of music. Read the rest of this entry »

by James Flood, Daniel Hathaway & Mike Telin

The twelfth annual Classical Guitar Weekend was distinguished by four outstanding concerts by Pavel Steidl, Gaëlle Solal, SoloDuo and Jason Vieaux with soprano Jung Eun Oh; three excellent and informative lectures by luthier Bernhard Kresse, guitarist Jonathan Fitzgerald and record producer Alan Bise; and record audiences showed up for performances, talks and master classes over a three-day span from June 1-3 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. For the first time, Classical Guitar Weekend took on the air of a real festival chock full of delights for guitar enthusiasts as well as for music lovers in general, for which artistic director Armin Kelly deserves an up-front round of applause.

Recital by Pavel Steidl

Pavel SteidlPavel Steidl chose his Friday evening program with a particular instrument in mind: a reproduction of a nineteenth century Stauffer instrument made by Bernhard Kresse. In an interview, Kresse contrasted it to the modern guitar as “the difference between a limousine and a sports car with the same engine”. Indeed, Steidl took us on a brisk and thrilling road trip through music by Johann Kaspar Mertz, Niccolò Paganini, J.S. Bach, Fernando Sor and Zani de Ferranti, showing us how well the smaller, peppier instrument responded in the areas of color, speed, articulation and ornamentation.

Pavel Steidl is an animated performer who uses his hands, his feet and his facial expressions as well as the guitar to put the essence of the music across. The Mertz pieces featured colorful harmonies, toccata-like gestures, lyrical stretches and cheerful, humorous moments that Steidl played brilliantly and footnoted with his body motions. Read the rest of this entry »

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