GuitarFest Artists

Douglas James

Doug 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.

Corde Cantanti          

Corde CantantiCorde Cantanti (Singing Strings) combines the diverse talents of Corinne Cassini, Douglas James, and Hazel Ketchum. Featuring the vocals of Hazel, the group focuses extensively but not exclusively on Baroque music, and performs on a variety of historical and modern instruments including lute, guitar, cello, theorbo, and percussion.

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 degree 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. 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.

Douglas James (see bio above)

Hazel Ketchum is an accomplished singer and instrumentalist of highly diverse talents. While completing degrees in Classical Guitar performance from the University of Southern California, Hazel also studied voice and Renaissance lute. Combining these disciplines, Hazel 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, Hazel has been a member of several chamber ensembles, most notably the early music ensemble Sonus, whose three CD's on the Dorian label feature her 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, and has 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, Hazel has continued writing and performing her own compositions as a soloist and for her group, The Hungry Monks. The Hungry Monks have released three CDs - Superior Crust, Organic Tangerines and All Through the Night. Hazel's other projects include playing drums for the blues/gospel trio The Harrows, and guitar with the Irish duo Banna de dha. Hazel's music is the focus of two children's CDs, Big as the World and Say Darlin' Say. In 2012, Hazel premiered her first commissioned composition, Heloise and Abelard - a masque, a 30-minute piece for Counter Tenor, Alto and instrumental ensemble.
Hazel is in demand as a music teacher, and directs music studies for the Cooper School and Oak Grove Montessori. In the summers, Hazel teaches with her husband, John Holenko, for the American Music Systems Camps in Boston, Maine and Charleston. You can also find them teaching music at Green River Preserve in North Carolina, where their musical performances and classes are combined 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 Ketchum has performed countless times for Piccolo Spoleto over the past 22 years, and for the following groups and 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 for many American universities, including: Oberlin Conservatory; Appalachian State University; University of Akron; Berklee School of Music; University of Southern California; Mississippi State University; and Agnes Scott College. She has also presented seminars on music, 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. Hazel also teaches workshops for the Allegheny Mountain String Project at Garth Newel Music Center in Virginia.
Hazel Ketchum lives with her family in Charleston, SC. Together they run Hungry Monk Music, where students of all ages come to play music, dance, and sing.

Stephen Aron

Stephen Aron    Described by the New York Times as “cultivated and musical,” Stephen Aron performs regularly throughout the US, Canada and Europe. An avid arranger, his work is published by Tuscany Editions (“wonderful guitaristic arrangement,” American Music Teacher), Mel Bay Publications (“historic,” Guitart) and Clear Note Publications (“a book to be ignored at your peril,” Classical Guitar). Clear Note also recently published several of Mr. Aron’s original compositions (“imaginative, adventurous, effortlessly entertaining,” Classical Guitar). He has released twelve publications, totaling over 500 pages of music.
    Aron’s recordings have been described as “stunning” (Guitar Review), “superbly produced” (Soundboard), “warmly recommended” (Fanfare) and “inspired” (Classical Guitar). Notably, most of the works on his eight CD’s are either original arrangements, original compositions, or premiere recordings of the works of others. His recordings and publications of thirty Lieder ohne Worte by Felix Mendelssohn and the complete Chopin Mazurkas, both for solo guitar, were industry firsts. He is a dedicated chamber music advocate, and maintains a regular duo with his wife, soprano JoNell Aron, and another with flutist Jane Berkner. He plays frequently with mixed chamber ensembles both traditional and new music.
    Aron has adjudicated numerous national and international competitions and has been a repeat guest, giving performances, lectures and master classes at Guitar Foundation of America Conventions, Stetson Guitar Workshops, Portland Guitar Festivals, Eastman Guitar Festivals, Rantucci Guitar Festivals, Alexandria Guitar Festivals, the National Summer Guitar Workshops, the Eastern Carolina University Guitar Festivals, the Sauble Beach Guitar Festivals and the Appalachian Guitar Festivals as well as at the Yale Guitar Extravaganza, the Ithaca College Winter Guitar Festival, the Eastern Tennessee Guitar Festival, the Montreal Guitar Festival, the New York Guitar Seminar, the Miami International Guitar Festival, the Mediterranean Guitar Festival, the Scotland Classical Guitar Retreat, the TAMU Guitar Symposium and others. Recently, Aron has been a guest at guitar festivals in Iserlohn, Germany and Sorrento, Italy, and has appeared on recital series across Italy as well as in France and Denmark.
    Aron was Professor of Music at the University of Akron from 1981 until his retirement in 2015; he remains Teacher of Classical Guitar and founder of the classical guitar studies program at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he has taught since 1992. His blog, located at stephenaron.net, is one of the most-read classical guitar resources on the web.

 

Rene Izquierdo

Pavel Steidl

Rene Izquierdo, a native from Cuba, graduated from the Guillermo Tomas, Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Ar

t in Havana. In the United States, Mr. Izquierdo earned a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma degrees from the Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. While at Yale he represented the university in an exchange program with the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse du Paris and worked with guitarists Olivie Chassain and Roland Dyens. Rene has a

ppeared as a guest soloist and in chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Cuba and Europe. He has shared the stage with prestigious guitarists including Eliot Fisk, Benjamin Verdery and Jorge Morel, as well as renowned flutist Ransom Wilson, soprano Lucy Shelton, David Jolley and Paquito d’Rivera. Renowned composers such as Jorge Morel and Carlos R. Rivera have dedicated works to him.

Mr. Izquierdo is a recipient of numerous awards. He is a winner of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition in 2004, Extremadura International Guitar Competition, Schadt String competition, and the Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition among others.

He is currently a professor of classical guitar at the Wisconsin State University in Milwaukee and an active solo performer and chamber musician. Rene has studied with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Eli Kassner, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, David Starobin, Eduardo Fernandez, Jorge Morel, Robert Beaser and Anthony Newman among others.

"I have rarely seen a musical talent equal to Rene Izquierdo. He is a virtuoso guitarist and a profound musical thinker." Benjamin Verdery, 2001

 

 

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 (guitarensemblemusic.com) which reaches to guitarists around the world.

 

 

Andy Page

Andy PageJazz 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. 

 

 

 

Porto Seguro

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Tom Noren (guitar) and John Holenko (mandolin) play in the Charleston based Brazilian ensemble Porto Seguro, which features traditional Brazilian choro as well as bossa nova. Along with some of that repertoire, Tom and John will be playing and discussing theirrepertoire for guitar and mandolin, which includes music originally written for mandolin, 19th century guitar duet music, and some traditional classical guitar repertoire arranged for guitar and mandolin. Music of Bach, Beethoven, Carcassi, Carulli, Tarrega, as well as traditional choro will be performed.

Tom Noren Bio:
Rio de Janeiro native Tom Noren is an active performer and educator who has made the Charleston area home since 2005. Tom is the assistant choir director at The Cooper School and an Engaging Creative Minds Partner. At ECM he integrates 21st century technology such as iPads and MaKey MaKey in his music education programs, creating a synergy between the Creative Arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Tom is also a sought after Apple computer specialist and video editor. As a performer he has toured and recorded with the New World Guitar Trio and the Hour Glass Ensemble. His most recent group, Porto Seguro, specializes in music from his native Brazil. He studied Classical Guitar with David Leisner at the New England Conservatory, where he re

ceived a master's degree in performance.

John Holenko Bio:
Multi-instrumentalist John Holenko has been playing and performing music all his life. From Traditional Folk to Classical to Rock, John has performed on acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, banjo, and historic Medieval and Renaissance instruments, both as a soloist and ensemble player. While receiving degrees in Classical Guitar Performance from The New England Conservatory and University of Southern California, John also played and studied Renaissance music, and later, Medieval music. John performed and recorded with the Medieval ensemble Sonus. John has played with The Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the Spoleto Orchestra. His own group, The Hungry Monks, performs original and traditional music, both acoustic and electric. He is also a member of the group Porto Seguro, playing Brazilian chorus and bossa nova.
John runs Hungry Monk Music, a music teaching studio with over 10 teachers, in Charleston, SC. He has been active in the American Music Systems, residencies through the South Carolina Arts Commission, 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.
John has made a number of recordings including a solo guitar recording, three Hungry Monks recordings, and guest appearances on several other artists recordings. Mr. Holenko has published several editions with Mel Bay Publications.

 

 

Adam Kossler

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"Virtuoso technique, beautiful sound and a sincere musicality" are terms music critics are using to describe American guitarist Adam Kossler. In addition to performing regularly as a solo artist, Adam joins his father William and brother John in both duo and trio concerts.

Adam Kossler is a top prizewinner in a number of national and international guitar competitions including the Boston Guitarfest, Columbus Guitar Symposium, East Carolina Guitar Competition, MANC Guitar Competition, Texas International Guitar Competition, Music Teacher National Association Competition, and the Appalachian Guitarfest Competition. Kossler's international performance career has taken him throughout the US, Canada and Central America. He has been a featured artist with numerous concert series including the John E. Marlow Guitar Series (Bethesda, MD), Isle Newell Concert Series (Appalachicola, FL), and the Seven Hills Guitar Series (Tallahassee, FL) among many others. In 2015, his Marlow Guitar Series performance was aired in it's entirety on Classical WETA's weekly program, "Front Row Washington". Recently he performed at Carnegie Hall, premiering new works by Chilean composer, Javier Farias.

In addition to his performance career, Kossler is also in demand as a teacher, clinician, and arranger. Recent engagements include The Denver Guitar Summit (Denver, CO), Festival Internacional Suzuki (Guatemala City, Guatemala), University of Alaska Guitar Festival (Anchorage, AK) Rantucci Guitar Festival (Buffalo, NY), and in 2015 Kossler was the featured Artist in Residence for Utah Classical Guitar (Salt Lake City, UT). Kossler was recently commissioned to compose and arrange works based on Chinese folk music and performed premiers of these works in Taiwan in September of 2017.

In 2014, Kossler released his first solo recording, Guitar Recital. The album was received with enthusiasm by critics and audiences and was featured Tom Cole's show, "The G String" on WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington D.C. In 2015 Kossler released his second solo record. Ekloge, an album of 20 th century music, includes works by Joaquin Rodrigo, Manuel Maria Ponce and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, as well as his own new transcriptions of music by Jean Sibelius. Kossler also recently published work by Scarlatti, Wolf, Tchaikovsy and others with GuitarChambermusicPress.org .

Adam Kossler began his musical studies with his father William Kossler, a co-author of the Suzuki Guitar Method. He went on to earn his BM degree at East Carolina University with Dr. Elliot Frank, his MM degree at Appalachian State University as a teaching assistant to Dr. Douglas James, and completed a DMA in Guitar Performance at Florida State University where he served as a teaching assistant to Bruce Holzman.