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.

Silviu Octavian Ciulei 

            Classical and flamenco guitarist Silviu Octavian Ciulei was born in Constanta, Romania. He began his musical studies at the early age of six and attended the High School of Arts, a Conservatory style school in Constanta. By age thirteen, he had won his first performance prize. Many awards soon followed including First Prizes in the National Music Olympics, and was First Prize winner and Gold Medalist three times consecutively in the “George Georgescu” International Music Performance Competition.  He graduated at the top of his class and was selected to perform a Concerto with the Black Sea National Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2004, Silviu was awarded a Full International Scholarship to study guitar performance with Dr. William Yelverton at Middle Tennessee State University in the Nashville Music City area of Tennessee. Silviu is the MTSU School of Music's first Full International Music Scholar and first four-time Undergraduate Research and Creativity Scholar and Grant recipient. Upon his graduation from MTSU he was awarded an Outstanding Achievement in Guitar Performance Award.

Since coming to the United States, Silviu has won an impressive collection of prizes. Among these, First Prize at the Indiana International Guitar Competition, First Prize at the East Carolina University Summer Guitar Festival and Competition, FirstPrize in the Texas International Guitar Competition, First Prize in the Columbus Guitar Symposium, First Prize in the Appalachian Guitar Festival, First Prize in the Schadt String International Concerto Competition. A recent top prize winner in some of the most prestigious competitions in the world including the Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition and the Parkening International Guitar Competition, Silviu is a world class performer. While competing in the Parkening Competition, Soundboard Magazine said Silviu …"gave a solid performance"...

Silviu is also an acclaimed flamenco guitarist. He traveled to the south of Spain to study flamenco guitar and lived in Cadiz, Madrid and Seville. Some of his flamenco mentors include Adam del Monte, Ricardo Nunez, and Oscar Guzman. He has performed with his flamenco quintet Tequila Flamenco Group at the Guitar Foundation of America International Festival at Oberlin Conservatory, Eastfield Guitar Festival in Dallas, TX. Recent engagements with his new flamenco project Maharajah Flamenco Trio include an array of performances at many festivals such as the Southern Guitar Festival, the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival, Florida Folk Festival, Radford Guitar Festival and a tour of the eastern coast of the United States from Florida to New York. Silviu has also appeared as soloist with the Nashville, Allentown, Tallahassee, Hendersonville symphony orchestras, just to mention a few of the more recent concerto performances.

 Silviu holds a Bachelor of Music (BM) from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Master of Music (MM) and Doctor of Music (DM) in Guitar Performance from the Florida State University College of Music where he was graduate teaching assistant to distinguished professor Bruce Holzman. In addition to being a classical and flamenco guitarist, Silviu is also a fine flamenco singer and always fascinated with languages, Silviu speaks five fluently. After a few years teaching at FSU and other colleges in Florida, Silviu recently accepted a position at Furman University in Greenville, Soouth Carolina where he currently resides and is Professor of Guitar. A very sought after modern and dynamic artist, teacher, mentor and judge, Silviu appears regularly at many guitar festivals, workshops and conventions in the US and around the world.


Piero Viti viti

PIERO VITI, born in Naples (Italy), obtained a diploma with full marks and honours at Avellino Conservatory and later on it has obtained in the same Conservatory the Bachelor of second level in “Guitar of the Twentieth century” with Lucio Matarazzo (Guitar) and Evy De Marco (Musical Analysis). He first studied with Stefano Aruta then, since 1982, with Angelo Gilardino, under whose guidance attained a High Specialization Diploma at “L. Perosi” Academy in Biella. He also attended Master Classes with Maria Luisa Anido, Manuel Barrueco, the Assad Duo and Oscar Ghiglia and deeply studied Musical Analysis at Musical Academy in Pescara and Guitar Composition with Nuccio D’Angelo. Winner of several prizes in national and international contests, Piero Viti has early undertaken an intense concert activity as soloist, soloist with orchestras as well as in chamber ensembles (particularly in duo with the flutist Salvatore Lombardi and the guitarist Paolo Lambiase). Furthermore, he collaborated with well-known artists and with leading orchestras (Michele Placido, Trio Chitarristico di Roma, Nello Alessi, Alaria Chamber Ensemble of New York, Philarmonic Orchestra of Cluj-Napoca, Orchestra of Moldova Television, Moscow Chamber Orchestra “The Seasons”, “Nuova Scarlatti” in Naples, etc.) and held concerts and recitals in the main countries and for the main concert institutions (USA, Russia, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Poland, and Italy), always with unanimous consent by the critics. Piero Viti took part in numerous programs for radio and television Italian and foreign (RAI3, Radiotre, Rete 4, Radio Vaticano, Radio France and other private networks). He’s much committed in the field of contemporary music and premiered new works especially dedicated to him, the revision of which he undertook on behalf of famous publishing houses. He released many CDs all favourably reviewed by European and Italian specialized printing. At the moment he is guitar professor in “Nicola Sala” Conservatory of Benevento (Italy). He has given master classes at prestigious international music institutions, is also regularly invited as a jury member in important national and international competitions.

Besides, he collaborates to the magazine “Guitart”, the web-magazine “dotGuitar” and he also collaborates to the magazine “Falaut”. He also has published numerous Musicological jobs and has revised music for guitar. He leads a number of years research dedicated to Ferdinando Carulli, and has made numerous discoveries of unpublished music of the composer. He regularly holds conferences and seminars dedicated to Ferdinando Carulli in major international music institutions, he also runs a series of nineteenth unpublished music for guitar published by the prestigious publishing company Ut Orpheus in Bologna.

Since 2015 is the official endorser of the manufacturer of guitar strings Aquila Corde Armoniche.

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.

Corinne Cassini

Corinne CassiniFranco-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.

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.


The Page Brothers

 Page Brothers jpeg

The Page Brothers are co-led by guitarist Andy Page and bassist Zack Page. Utilizing a rotating line-up of the finest musicians in Western NC, the group keeps a busy performance schedule in the Southeast.

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. In recent 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 with jazz artists such as Phil Woods, Jamey Aebersold, Tony Monaco, Matt Wilson, and many others.   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.  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.

Zack Page has been performing as a professional bassist since the early '90s. His work with various jazz ensembles, theater companies, and the cruise industry has taken him to all 50 U.S. States, the Caribbean islands, Australia, South America, Europe and the Far East. In a jazz setting, Zack has had the good fortune to play and/or record with Billy Higgins, Delfeayo Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, Marvin Stamm, Eddie Daniels and Babik Reinhardt, the son of gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Steve Trismen started playing violin in grade school and has been improvising in folk and jazz styles since his college days in upstate New York.  A versatile fiddler, he currently plays with the Gypsy Jazz group One Leg Up, as well as rock group Franklin’s Kite, and Irish traditionalists The Boys of Buncombe.

Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Jim Tanner has been playing guitar since the age of 10. He is adept at many popular styles but has focused mainly on jazz guitar for the last 15 years. For the past decade, Jim has kept a busy performance schedule with Asheville's One Leg Up (recording two albums) and working in retail at the Music Center. He is currently enrolled at Western Carolina University studying towards a Masters of Social Work degree.

Kami Rowan

Dr. Kami Rowan has taught at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC since 1993. Her success has resulted in a nationally recognized guitar program within a liberal arts context.  Currently, Kami is Associate Professor of Music, and is Chair of the Music Department. Along with chairing the department, her duties at Guilford College include: directing the guitar program, teaching majors and ensemble, and teaching academic courses. The Guilford College Guitar Ensemble received 1st and 3rd prizes at the Brownsville Texas Guitar Ensemble Festival and Competition in 2011. The ensemble has also performed in Virginia, Illinois, South Carolina, Georgia, Ireland, NYC, Philadelphia, and Texas.

Kami completed her DMA and MM degrees in performance at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University under the tutelage of Dr. Glenn Caluda. Dr. Rowan also studied with the renowned Aaron Shearer, at UNCSA, in Winston-Salem, NC, where she received her BM in performance. Kami received her NC-A Teaching Certificate from the UNC Greensboro, and taught full-time for the Guilford County public schools for six years. She was part of the team that designed and put into operation the Weaver High School for Performing & Visual Arts, an options high school in Guilford County. During that time, Kami created and implemented a complete guitar curriculum for the high school level.

Kami is currently on the board of directors of three non-profit musical organizations—The Aaron Shearer Foundation, Music for a Great Space, and the Piedmont Classic Guitar Society. These professional organizations provide the Piedmont community educational and quality performance opportunities under Kami’s leadership. Additionally, she has been a clinician and adjudicator for many guitar festivals and competitions on the east coast. Most recently, Dr. Rowan has worked to create a new guitar program at the prestigious Eastern Music Festival where she is director of the program as well as faculty. She also teaches at the Shearer Summer Institute in Zion National Park annually. Kami enjoys performing both solo and chamber music in a variety of settings.


 John Holenko 

John Holenko has performed on classical guitar, steel-string guitar,  mandolin, banjo and historic instruments throughout the United States and in Europe.  As a solo guitarist and chamber musician, Mr. Holenko has performed the traditional repertoire for classical guitar, as well as new music for the instrument, and lesser known works from all periods.  Called "a skilled soloist" by the Boston Globe, Mr. Holenko has given recitals and been featured in radio broadcasts in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco.  As a member of the of the early music ensemble Sonus, Mr. Holenko has performed on historic instruments in recitals here in the United States and in Europe.  Sonus' recordings for Dorian Discovery feature Mr. Holenko performing on oud, saz, psaltery, and other period instruments, and his work with the cittern, Renaissance guitar, and Baroque guitar keep him involved in musics of all periods.  This knowledge of historic performance practice informs his guitar performances in a unique and refreshing way.                                                       

John Holenko performs on mandolin and steel-string guitar with his group The Hungry Monks, an eclectic, acoustic ensemble playing a wide variety of traditional and original music.

John Holenko has been on the faculty of Charleston Southern University and The College of Charleston.  He is also the Guitarist, Mandolinist, and Banjo player for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Holenko is very active in music education through his own private studio, Hungry Monk Music, Creative Spark in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and residencies through the South Carolina Arts Commission.  John has been an instructor in music at the Charlotte Children’s Theatre in Charlotte, NC, and at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center in Ohio, where he has also been Artist-in Residence. Mr. Holenko has worked in radio as one of the hosts of Trilogy, a program of contemporary music in Los Angeles in the late 1980’s, and the creator and host of the Fretwork radio program on South Carolina Public Radio.

Mel Bay Publications has published editions of Medieval music and Renaissance music for mandolin by Mr. Holenko.

John Holenko received degrees in Classical Guitar performance from the New England Conservatory, and the University of Southern California, also studying historic performance at both institutions, and premiering many new works.  

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