San Diego Guitar Festival arrives on campus

by Damir Cato, Contributor

The first-ever San Diego Guitar Festival comes to San Diego State on April 22-24, and with it comes the chance for guitar lovers to meet and be entertained by some of classical music’s biggest stars.

World-renowned classical guitarists including Vladimir Gorbach, Irina Kulikova, Jorge Caballero, and lutenist Kyle Patterson join the lineup for this year’s inaugural event.

Funded partly by the Student Success Fee, the festival was the brainchild of classical guitar performance student Kevin Hernandez. He saw an opportunity to expand students’ knowledge of classical guitar by hosting the event and brought the idea to music entrepreneurship professor Marian Liebowitz and assistant professor of music Toni James, both of whom encouraged him to continue with the project. They recieved $7,900 from the Student Success Fee.

“Dr. Toni James and Dr. Marian Liebowitz both understood the potential and importance of a project like this when I first mentioned it,” Hernandez said. “And since then, they have been helping me on this 100 percent student-led Student Success Fee project.”

After teaming up with the two professors, Hernandez assumed the role of artistic director for the event, with James as the managing director and Liebowitz as the executive director. It was a beneficial collaboration as all three worked hard to secure funding and talent for the event.

Though the festival will showcase the best in classical guitar, organizers hope music lovers of all types will attend.

“The guitar is the most popular and most accessible instrument in the world,” Hernandez said. “Many genres of music feature a guitar from country to pop, from death metal to jazz. Guitarists eventually find their way into classical guitar.”

The festival will take place at several different venues for a period of three days with locations that include SDSU Rhapsody Hall, Ocean Beach Library and the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. The event will feature live performances and workshops from several award-winning musicians from across the globe.

“(The musicians in the lineup) are today’s touring artists, frequently invited to the most distinguished and prestigious guitar festivals and concert halls across the globe,” Hernandez said.

Most events will be free to the public, with the exception of a classical performance by Vladimir Gorbach at Carlsbad’s Museum of Making Music on April 23. Gorbach has won guitar competitions across the world and performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York. Now he brings his talents to San Diego, and guitar fans are eager to learn from his workshop and his performance.

Festival organizers hope having such an elite class of musicians, coupled with hands-on workshops from the very same artists, will attract SDSU students as well as guitar enthusiasts throughout California to the event. They also hope to show promoters that such an event can be continued for years to come.

“Hosting the San Diego Guitar Festival annually at SDSU would be the first step in raising the profile of classical guitar on campus and in San Diego as a destination for classical guitarists,” Hernandez said.