Guitarfest Artists

Douglas James

Douglas JamesDouglas James has appeared as a classical guitarist throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Latin America. He has been a featured recitalist at such notable venues as Italy's L'Estate Chitarristica sul Lago Maggiore, the Great Lakes Classical Guitar Festival at Oberlin Conservatory, Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto festival, and New York's Carnegie and Merkin Halls. Soundboard magazine has noted his performances to be filled with"...appealing intensity and obvious enthusiasm." The Arizona Daily Star described his Bach as "...warm and ornate," and his Spanish pieces "...downright sexy...". Of another recent engagement, Violao Intercambio (Brazil) wrote: “an impeccable performance, the sound clear and clean with beautiful interpretation from the first to the last piece.”

A noted proponent of period instrument performance, Dr. James uses 19th century guitars when playing music of the Classical and Romantic periods. In 1992 he was the top prize winner in the Arturo Toscanini Solo Guitar Competition (Italy) for 19th c. guitar performance. He has twice been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Fellowship, and has received touring grants from Arts International and several state arts commissions. In addition to solo concertizing, he has played in duo with the Italian guitarist Pasquale Rucco since 1995. The Rucco-James Duo is recognized world-wide for their sophisticated interpretations of the 19th c. guitar duo literature. “Thinking to Presti-Lagoya duo, Abreu duo and Assad duo, we think that the inseparable Italian/American pair will be successfully on the same line as this important progeny, becoming their filological equivalent.” Musica magazine.

Always an active performer, James' recent concert schedule has included engagements at the Oberlin Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, numerous American guitar societies, Piccolo Spoleto, and the Stetson International Guitar Workshop. Dr. James has served in the Artists-in-Residence program of the State of North Carolina, and as a touring artist for the Southern Arts Federation and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He frequently serves as a judge for important guitar competitions, including such events as the Guitar Foundation of America International Solo Guitar Competition and the GOLD Competition at Oberlin Conservatory. As a radio recitalist, James has been featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today, as well as special broadcasts on the major classical stations of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

James’ critically acclaimed CD of Italian Romantic solo guitar music was followed by the release of two duo CD’s with Italian guitarist Pasquale Rucco, Early Romantic Music for Two Guitars and A Night at the Opera. All discs are on the Cala Vista label. Gitarr och Luta (Sweden) notes that "Douglas James' playing on the record is for my taste totally splendid. His enthusiasm to explore the early guitar repertoire is obvious, and he has an ability to use the old instruments to their full capacity, with all of their timbral possibilities. He plays intensely and sensitively with flow, ease and elegance." Classical Guitar (England) states "Douglas James clearly has a great deal of sympathy for this repertoire and a carefully worked out approach to its interpretation. . . . everything is animated by concern for the life of the music on its own terms and in its own time. This is a welcome addition to the choice of 19th century repertoire played on genuine instruments of the time."

In addition to his work as a classical guitarist, James has in recent years expanded his musical horizons to include his earliest roots playing electric guitar in various contemporary styles, and playing Baroque music on the theorbo. For him there’s a strong connection in the almost purely improvisational playing of contemporary electric guitar, and the improvisation involved in realizing continuo in Baroque music.  It’s all about style, timing and tone!

Douglas James is Professor of Guitar at Appalachian State University's Hayes School of Music. He has served on the Advisory Board and Board of Trustees for the Guitar Foundation of America, and holds a DMA in Guitar Performance from the University of Arizona, where he studied with Thomas Patterson.


Stephen Robinson

Stephan Robinson

Acclaimed by The New York Times for his "effortless virtuosity," Stephen Robinson performs extensively and conducts master classes at leading musical institutions and festivals worldwide. He has appeared as guest soloist with orchestras including the Cincinnati Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras and is an award-winning recording artist. Robinson’s many CDs for Clear Note, Centaur, and Lakeside Records have received unanimous critical acclaim from the international publications American Record Guide, Fonoforum, Classical Guitar, Soundboard, Guitar Review, On the Air and Fanfare. The late renowned guitarist Andrés Segovia described him as “a magnificent guitarist, one of the most brilliant guitarists of our times." And of a recent performance, Soundboard Magazine said “Anyone who has not heard Robinson play is missing one of America’s great guitarists, a performer of brilliance, elegance, and lyricism.” Of his Clear Note CD Felicidade, Steve Marsh of Classical Guitar (UK) Magazine said “Occasionally a CD comes along in the review stack in which the featured performer immediately stands out from amongst the others for their sheer musicality, technical virtuosity and ‘listenability’ factor – and this new release from North American guitarist Stephen Robinson is such a CD. Everything about this disc smacks of quality: Where the music dictates a delicate touch, Robinson’s playing has an almost spiritual intensity which is very moving; equally where the music needs dazzling bravura, this player supplies this commodity in heaps. His deft finger work brushes aside all the immense technical difficulties contained in much of this music.”

Stephen Robinson is Professor of Music at Stetson University in Florida, where he is the founding director of the Guitar Program (since 1983). His graduates have excelled in the finest graduate programs of Yale University, The Eastman School of Music, The Peabody Conservatory, Florida State University, and The University of Southern California, among others, and many now hold prominent positions in the professional music world. Of his multi-faceted career, Guitarra Magazine says "Robinson's career as a teacher is well known. He founded and runs the guitar program at Stetson University. At the same time, he has won a bunch of competitions, recorded a score of CDs, and continues touring regularly. What you have with Robinson is a player who has married the two opposite ends of the guitar experience (teaching/performing) by finding a way to express the impetus for both simultaneously. It's a remarkable feat and one to aspire to."


Ricardo Cobo

Ricardo Cobo

            Widely regarded as one of the leading virtuosos of the new Classic Guitar generation, Ricardo Cobo gave his professional debut with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá at age seventeen on a nationwide telecast for an audience of over nine million people.  Celebrated for his passionate and mesmerizing performances worldwide,  he is in high demand as soloist, chamber musician, lecturer and recording artist.

Born in Cali, Colombia, Ricardo Cobo is the son of Lebanese immigrants who came to the Americas looking for a new life during the first half of the 20th century.  His mother, a classical pianist and avid visual artist, taught him to play and read music as a child.   His father, a brilliant surgeon who founded the first university school of medicine in Colombia, was a devoted concertgoer and lover of classical music.  He instilled a fascination for guitar music in his young son while studying for his surgeries, which he prepared while listening to long hours of Flamenco and classical recordings.

The young Cobo began guitar lessons at the age of 8, playing on a twenty-dollar souvenir guitar his uncle brought back as a gift from Brazil.  Both parents were taken by surprise when the young guitarist quickly outpaced his lessons and was admitted to the Antonio María Valencia Conservatory just shy of his 13th birthday.   He was accepted to the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore (USA),  where he began to work with  renown pedagogue, Aaron Shearer.  He obtained his BM from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, and his MM from Florida State University, where he pursued postgraduate studies with Bruce Holzman as a GA and University Doctoral Fellow.          

While completing his studies in the United States, Mr. Cobo earned consecutive  prizes in a string of international competitions as well as a host of academic excellence awards and numerous scholarships. Among them,  Gold Medals at the Sixth Guitar Foundation of America International Competition in AZ, the Ninth Alirio Díaz International Competition in Caracas (with Leo Brouwer and Alirio Díaz as head jurors), and the Ninth Casa de España Competition in San Juan.  As the first and only Hispanic ever to win the GFA prize, Mr. Cobo embarked on a highly auspicious tour of over seventy American cities followed by debut appearances as soloist and recitalist through Europe, Ukraine and Asia.  Equally in demand as chamber musician and soloist with orchestras, Cobo's busy touring schedule has taken him from New York's Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall to Korea's Ho Ham Hall, Los Angeles' Ambassador Auditorium, San Francisco's OMNI Foundation, Atlanta at Spivey Hall, Washington DC's Phillips Gallery,  Madrid's Teatro Real, and Zaragoza's Palacio Real, to Venezuela's Teresa Carreño, and his native Colombia's National Library and Teatro Leon de Greiff, among hundreds of others. 

 Mr. Cobo's versatility can be heard in his award-winning solo recordings of classical and children's music - Tales for Guitar -ESSAY, Brouwer Solo Works-NAXOS and Guitar Lullaby- Ellipsis Arts, as well as his orchestral and crossover recordings in collaborations with jazz and classical musicians- Café 1930 with Marc Gould-Angel/EMI and Walking on the Water -ESSAY/Allegro.

His Guitar Lullaby CD, currently on its third printing, was awarded the American Library Association's highest recognition for children's music as well as a Parent's Choice Award and is widely regarded as one of the finest classical guitar audio experiences on CD . The enormous success of the Lullaby series also showcases Cobo on Papa's Lullaby, Mediterranean Lullaby and Latin Lullaby.  His world premiere recording of Leo Brouwer's Guitar Concertos 3 & 4 (ESSAY CD 1040) has been called "compelling- a recording that cannot be too highly recommended and will not be bettered for some time to come." -Fanfare.  Among his recent recordings, Guitar Music From Latin America,  is available on NAXOS (8.557 329) and includes Cobo's remarkable arrangements of Latin American standards,  Festival Latino, with Flautist Alexandra Hawley, available on Cambria, features Piazzolla’s fiery “History of the Tango” for flute and guitar and Maximo Diego Pujol’s “Suite Buenos Aires”. Acrilicos,  Released by Alanna Records last year, feaures new guitar music of Eduardo Martin culminating a program of repertory warhorses by Villa-Lobos and Agustin Barrios Mangoré.

Cobo’s diverse and innovative programming ranges from solo concerti with orchestra to historical chamber settings as well as Tango and Flamenco dance ensembles to Latin and world music concerts.  He has performed with the Orchestra Of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Meyerson Symphony Hall and the Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York with Richard Kapp on tour in Southern Europe and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art;   as part of the Tango Consort with Tango couples Sandor & Parissa, Armando & Daniella, and Francisco & Carolina; the Ballet Jazz of Montreal, U. of Hawaii's Guitar Summit with the Flying Pisanos and "Masters of the Acoustic Guitar" at Alice Tully Hall, to name a few.

Cobo's affinity and deep connection with Leo Brouwer's music is apparent in both his recordings and live performances under the composer's own baton. Cobo played the historic American Premiere of his Concerto de Toronto during the closing program at the Guitar Foundation of America's International Festival 2000 (read the review) with the San Antonio Symphony to critical acclaim.  Cobo and Brouwer previously appeared as special guests with Les Violons du Roy performing his 3rd. Concerto at the Domaine Forget in Quebec as part of an all-Brouwer festival.

Equally in demand during the summer season, Mr. Cobo has performed in Germany's International Guitarrefestpiele in Nurtingen, Duquesne University's International Guitar Week in Pittsburgh, the National Guitar Workshop in CT, the Alirio Díaz (1990, Gold Medal Winner) and Rodrigo Riera International Festivals in Venezuela, the  International Festivals of Morelia, Tijuana, Culiacán, Saltillo, and Festival Paracho in Mexico, the Caramoor Festival in New York, Le Domaine Forget in Canada and most recently at Colorado's Strings in the Mountains.  He has been guest Artist-in-residence at many universities including Temple University in Philadelphia, Stetson University in Florida, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, North Carolina School of the Arts and currently at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Most recently, Cobo has collaborated with living composers to develop new music for guitar based on the rich literary and cultural legacy of Latin America.  Through the IDB (Inter-development Bank), Chilean composer Javier Farías dedicated his “Romanzas de Rihoacha”, based on Gabriel García Marquez’s stunning autobiography, to Ricardo Cobo, who premiered the work in Washington DC last year:   Cuban-American composer Jose Lezcano, and Colombian composers Franz Castillo, Hector Gonzalez, and Fabio Salazar Orozco, among others have dedicated new solos for guitar which Mr. Cobo will record as premieres with the NAXOS label this summer. Currently, Cobo is a regular guest artist with the newly-founded Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Cartagena  , and featured artist in several emerging partnerships with Colombian cultural organizations.  In addition, He is currently on the D’Addario roster of touring artists and has developed his own line of unique instruments with Alhambra Guitars.

Decorated on numerous occasions by his country, Mr. Cobo was the first musician ever to be awarded the "Executive of the Year Award" by the Cámara Junior de Colombia, one the country's oldest and most prestigious professional organizations. He was decorated by his country with the "Order of Cañasgordas" and personally by the Mayor of Cali, with the "Order of Belalcazar" for outstanding Merit in cultural affairs. 

A long-time resident of Las Vegas, Mr. Cobo is founding director of Guitar Studies at University of Nevada Las Vegas, co-founder of Guitar Las Vegas/Allegro Guitar Series at UNLV, and founding president of, a professional arts community organization devoted to the art of the Guitar.  As co-founder and board member of the Aaron Shearer Foundation, Mr.Cobo will collaborate with the City of Springdale, UT, to host the Second Annual Shearer Symposium in August this year. 


Selected Reviews:





"Colombia-born Ricardo Cobo is an impeccable guitarist who never lets his technical fastidiousness impede the verve of the music.  On the contrary, it is placed squarely at its service.  One minute into La Muerte del Angel, Cobo seems to disappear, leaving only the unencumbered voice of Piazzolla."

                                                                                  Wiliam Zagorsky - Fanfare Magazine



"Guest artist Ricardo Cobo's superb performance of Joaquin Rodrigo"s famous "Concierto de Aranjuez" shimmered with color... The melancholy passages of the second movement were beautiful beyond belief or the reviewers poor powers of description."

                                                      - THE EVANSVILLE PRESS


“The Colombian guitarist Ricardo Cobo may be one of the finest guitarists of our time -- certainly he's a first-rank interpreter of Latin American music, as he showed in the tango-flavored second half of Saturday's program. From the driving "Acrilicos en Asfalto," by Eduardo Martin, to smoky cafe music from Horacio Salgán and the classic "La Muerte del Angel," by Astor Piazzolla, Cobo has the smoldering sensuality of Latin music deep in his blood, and played with heart-clenching passion.”

                                                        Stephen Brookes -The Washington Post

                                                                                                                        June 2006

Hazel Ketchum

Hazel KetchumHazel Ketchum is a singer and instrumentalist of diverse talents. While receiving degrees in Classical Guitar performance from the University of Southern California, Hazel also studied voice and Renaissance lute. Combining these diciplines, Ms. Ketchum began accompanying herself on guitars and lutes, performing the solo and song repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day.

Along with her solo performances, Ms. Ketchum has been a member of several chamber ensembles, most notably the early music ensemble Sonus, whose three CD’s on the Dorian label feature Hazel’s vocal and instrumental talents. As a member of Sonus, Hazel has performed throughout the United States and at the Tage Alte Musik Festival in Regensberg, Germany. She has also been featured on radio broadcasts both in the US and in Europe.

Hazel is also a composer of songs. Writing her first songs as a teenager, Ms. Ketchum has continued writing and performing her own compositions as a soloist and for her group The Hungry Monks.  The Hungry Monks have 3 CDs – Superior Crust, Organic Tangerines and All Through the Night.  In addition to the Hungry Monks Hazel plays drums for the blues/gospel trio the Harrows and guitar with the Irish duo banna de dhá.  Hazel’s music is also the focus of two children’s CDs “Big as the World” and “Say Darlin’ Say”.  In 2012 Hazel premiered her first commissioned work “Heloise and Abelard – a masque” a 30 min. piece for Counter Tenor, Alto and instrumental ensemble.

Hazel is in demand as a music teacher and directs music studies for the Cooper School, Meeting Street Academy, Oak Grove Montessori and develops song writing residencies for Engaging Creative Minds.  In the summers Hazel teaches with her husband John Holenko for the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Method Camps at Berkley School of Music in Boston and the Method Camp in Charleston, SC.  You can also find them teaching music at Green River Preserve in North Carolina where their musical performances and classes combine with outdoor experiences. Hazel is co-founder of Science Songs Rock which brings nature and music programs together for elementary school children and nature fans of all ages.

Hazel lives in Charleston with her family and together they run Hungry Monk Music where students of all ages come to play music, dance and sing.

Hazel Ketchum has performed countless times on Piccolo Spolato over the past 22 years and for the following groups and in the following series:  Sonus, Na Fidlieri, The Hungry Monks, Charleston Pro Musica, The Taylor Festival Choir, The Harrows, Donnybrook Legacy, Fretwork and Folk Series, Early Music Series, Blues Series, Festival of Churches, and Contemporary Music Series. 

Hazel has given master classes and seminars at Oberlin Conservatory, Appalacian State University, Boone, NC. University of Ohio, Akron. University of Southern California, Mississipi State University, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta. She has also presented seminars on music and movement and composition for the Music for Young Children conferences in Banff and Ottawa, Canada.  Hazel with her Science Songs Rock partner Ian Sanchez are regular presenters for the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina.


Stephen Mattingly

Stephen Mattingly has been warmly received by audiences as a soloist and founding member of the Tantalus Quartet. As recipient of the Theodore Presser Award, he recorded the complete guitar chamber works by Franz Schubert. His first solo recording is scheduled for release on SoundSet Records in 2016.

 Stephen enjoys a vibrant career as Assistant Professor of Guitar at the University of Louisville. His students have won top prizes in international competitions and have been accepted to prestigious graduate programs such as Florida State University, the Eastman School of Music, and the Peabody Conservatory. He is a member of the Kentucky Arts Council Performing Arts Directory and has performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Silesian Guitar Autumn in Poland, the Panamá Guitar Festival, the Tampere Festival in Finland, the Guitar Foundation of America Convention, the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium in Germany, and the Columbus State Guitar Symposium. In addition to his performing and teaching engagements, Stephen is the Director of the University of Louisville Guitar Festival and Competition. Alongside this role, Stephen is a board member of the Chamber Music Society of Louisville, the Clifton Center, the Guitar Foundation of America, and the Louisville Guitar Society.

Stephen completed his formal studies earning a Doctorate of Music and a Theory Pedagogy Certificate at the Florida State University under the instruction of renowned pedagogue Bruce Holzman. Prior to his doctoral studies, Stephen was awarded an Artist Diploma while studying with Dale Kavanagh at the Hochschule für Musik in Dortmund. Stephen also studied with Oscar Ghiglia at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Prior to his work in Europe, Stephen studied with Nicholas Goluses at the Eastman School of Music where he earned a Master’s and a Bachelor Degree with distinction, a Certificate in Arts Leadership, and a Performer’s Certificate.  


Corinne Cassini

Alan Hirsh


Franco-American cellist Corinne Cassini was born in Cincinnati, OH, and began playing the cello where she grew up in the Loire Valley, France. After graduating with a Bachelors in Music with Paul Katz from Rice University she moved to Freiburg, Germany for graduate studies in cello with Adriana Contino, and viola da gamba with Ekkehart Weber. Once there, her passion for Early Music on period instruments could no longer be contained, leading her to relocate to The Netherlands where she continued her studies. There she continued learning from top experts in the field such as Viola de Hoog, Anner Bylsma, Marc Destrubé, Lucy van Dael, Barthold and Sigiswald Kuijken, Stanley Hogeland and Richard Egar, to name but a few. During her 10 years in Holland, she co-founded several small chamber ensembles (baroque and early classical) which performed around Europe. She was also invited to play with Arte dei Suonatori, with Gerard Lesne and Il Seminario at the Festival de Royaumont and under Christophe Rousset at the Festival d’Ambronay.

Corinne Cassini is equally passionate about the mind-body-soul connection, and thus trained in the Alexander Technique both in Amsterdam and Boston between 2006 and 2012. The spring of 2010 was marked by a move to the East Coast, and a return to her American roots. In 2012, she was appointed to teach the Alexander Technique at the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University. As a professional musician, Ms. Corinne Cassini loves to work with other fellow musicians and brings to her AT teaching the merger of her intimate and personal experience of playing an instrument, performance issues, and the physical and mental challenges of the profession.

Since moving to Boone, Corinne has a growing private practice in the Alexander Technique, and regularly performs with the faculty of the Hayes School of Music both on and off campus.

Andy Page

Jazz guitarist Andy Page maintains an active schedule in the Southeast with a variety of jazz and rock ensembles. He has performed internationally at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Japan’s Muroran Jazz Cruise, and for jazz workshops in Friburg, Germany. Andy worked in the cruise ship industry in the South Pacific, Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and also traveled with a nationally touring theatrical production. For the past two years, he has performed at Asheville’s Django Reinhardt Celebration and the Dizzy Gillespie Jazzfest in South Carolina, and has been a featured composer at the Jazz Composers Forum based in Asheville, NC. Andy has performed private engagements for former President Bill Clinton and poet Maya Angelou, and has performed informally with jazz artists such as Matt Wilson, Gary Smulyan, Don Braden, Chris Vidala, Jack Wilkins, Jon Metzger, and David Baker. An extraordinarily versatile musician, Andy has played with the funk/rock group The Deciders at the 2009 Gathering Of Nations Native American Pow-wow in Albuquerque, NM, with Swing Guitars at Musicfest 'n Sugar Grove (Doc Watson festival), and with the indie rock band Bafoodus at the Music on the Mountaintop festival. Andy has worked as a session player on numerous recordings, and has a released a recording of gypsy waltzes entitled “Souvenir de Django” with the trio Musette Guitars.

Andy has a Masters degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from University of North Carolina-Wilmington. As an undergraduate, Andy was a finalist in Virginia Commonwealth University Classical Guitar Competition. He has studied privately with renowned jazz educators Jerry Coker and Donald Brown and with guitarists Mark Boling, Bob Russell, and Robert Nathanson.

Andy currently is on the music faculty at Appalachian State University where, in addition to Applied Jazz Guitar, he also teaches History of Rock Music, Jazz in American Society, and Jazz/Pop Theory.

Alan Hirsh

Alan HirshComposer, arranger, guitarist, and music educator, Alan Hirsh began a long-time collaboration with world renown pedagogue, Aaron Shearer back in the 1980’s, writing music for the ground-breaking three-volume method series: Learning the Classic Guitar published with Mel Bay.   In 2012, along with Thomas Kikta he worked as composer, co-author, and editor of the three-volume Alfred Music publication—The Shearer Method: Classical Guitar Foundations, Classical Guitar Developments, and Learning the Fingerboard, a work representing Shearer’s lifetime culmination of thought on how the guitar should be taught.

Alan received his Bachelor’s in Composition from the University of Arizona studying with Robert Muczynski and his Masters and Doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University studying with Vladimir Ussachevsky and Jean Eichelberger Ivey.  He currently resides in North Carolina where he works as Music Director and Fine Arts Department Chair at Bishop McGuinness High School, teaching Beginning Guitar, Honors Guitar Ensemble Orchestra, Chorus, AP Music Theory, and Recording Studio/Composition.   Alan also teaches guitar at Wake Forest University, and is the founder and director of the Piedmont Guitar Orchestra.  He actively directs festival guitar orchestras around the country, such as the US/Mexico Guitar Orchestra at GFA 2000 and Southwest Guitar Festivals, the Appalachian Guitarfest Orchestra, UNCG Guitarganza Orchestra, and the Long Island Guitar Festival Orchestra. Alan serves as Vice president of the Piedmont Classic Guitar Society and Vice President of Education in the Aaron Shearer Foundation. He remains active as a composer, having written and arranged extensively for orchestra, band, chorus, guitar and guitar ensemble.  Alan’s most recent guitar commissions include the Harrisdale Concerto for Guitar Orchestra, Violin, Saw, and Solo Guitar, Nunc Dimittis and Lullay Carol for Guitar Orchestra and Choir, and November for Guitar and Pipa (written for virtusoso artist, Liu Fang).  Alan’s many other guitar works include publications of Twenty Etudes in fixed Positions, New Music for Classic Guitar, Trio Concertino, Holiday, Folk, Sacred, and Renaissance Collections for guitar ensemble, as well as an extensive online catalogue of guitar ensemble music ( which reaches to guitarists around the world.