Read a review of the MIGF 2022 written by Dr. Koh Kazama on March 2, 2022:
2022 Miami International GuitART Festival 7th Edition Edition
In its seventh year, the Miami International GuitArt Festival (MIGF) at Florida International University has become the main annual classical guitar event in South Florida. Directed and founded by Dr. Mesut Özgen, a guitarist, composer, and director of guitar studies at Florida International University, the theme for this year’s festival was “Alegría de la Guitarra Latina!” and featuring Latin American music with an emphasis on female musicians. Guest artists included Martha Masters, Clarice Assad, Sergio Assad, Gohar Vardanyan, Eduardo Martin, Galy Martin, and many more. Featured artists were not only Latin American (from Brazil, Cuba, Uruguay, and Mexico) but also from other countries around the world, including Australia, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Iran, and Armenia.
Previous festival in 2021 was completely virtual, but the 2022 edition was implemented in a hybrid modality with 22 in-person and 10 virtual events. After having many virtual events since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, it was refreshing to finally experience in-person events again and hear live, in-person concerts! Audiences had the opportunity to attend a great number and variety of concerts, master classes, lectures, competition rounds, and a luthier expo.
The concerts covered an impressive range of genres and artists, from traditional Latin American music to bluegrass and jazz. The opening concert was virtual, and featured Brazilian music played by the Amazon Guitar Orchestra from Brazil, directed by Davi Nunes. The first in-person concert of the festival followed with soprano Daniella D’Ingiullo and guitarist Federico Bonacossa showcasing the breadth of classical music composed within the last one hundred years. Another weekend concert was presented in a virtual setting by the Choro das tres, an ensemble of 3 Brazilian sisters.
Other concerts included artists such as Smaro Gregoriadou, Marco Sartor, Sergio Assad, Clarice Assad, James Moore, Andie Tanning, Caterina Lichtenberg, Mike Marshall, and Gohar Vardanyan, as well as FIU-Miami Guitar Orchestra directed by Mesut Özgen and comprised of 60 student players from colleges and high schools. Smaro Gregoriadou played a program on special classical guitars that had structural alterations to enhance the sound of the guitar for the specific style of the period of music being performed.
Later in the week, violinist Andie Tanning and guitarist James Moore presented a new music program for violin and resonator guitar that included entertaining theatrics involving balloon popping, spoken word, vocal sound effects and other extended techniques, showing the limitless possibilities of sound production and musical presentation. Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall’s mandolin duo presented a very diverse program as well, consisting of music from Bach to bluegrass. The festival concluded with a concert by virtuoso guitarist Gohar Vardanyan, who presented a fitting program of mostly Latin music.
The highlight of the festival was the world premiere of Voyages: The GuitART Concerto for guitar and orchestra, commissioned by the MIGF from Brazilian composer Sergio Assad. The concerto had complex passages and a virtuosic cadenza in the third movement, and it was played elegantly by guitarist Marco Sartor. The second half of the concert featured Sergio Assad and his daughter, vocalist, pianist, and composer Clarice Assad. The father and daughter pair presented an entertaining program of Brazilian tunes, Argentinian tunes, and original compositions, with Clarice Assad flawlessly displaying the tonal variety she could produce with her voice.
Lectures were presented by Martha Masters, Federico Bonacossa, Bahar Ossareh, Caterina Lichtenberg, and Koh Kazama. Topics ranged from music business to Persian music to Baroque ornamentation. In addition to the informative lectures, there were master classes presented by Eduardo Martin, Sergio Assad, Martha Masters, Mike Marshall, Zaira Meneses, and Gohar Vardanyan.
In addition to the concerts, lectures, and masterclasses, there was a concert artist performance competition with many talented participants from Europe, Australia, Asia, and South America. This year’s winner was Cuban guitarist Millet Padron, who in addition to winning a cash prize and several other prizes, won a concert guitar built by Bill Glez, one of the luthiers featured in the luthier expo. The 2nd prize was awarded to Russian guitarist Sergey Perelekhov, the 3rd prize was awarded to Chilean guitarist Luis Guevara, and the 4th prize was awarded to Polish guitarist Marcin Kuzniar.
The Miami International GuitART Festival was nine days long in total and packed with many events that were very exciting for both the guitar enthusiast and general audience. Unique from most other guitar festivals, this festival showcased the wide range and diversity of music featuring not only guitar but also other instruments and voice in chamber music settings. All periods of music were embraced, and non-classical genres were also featured. In addition to showing the significance of the guitar in Latin music, this festival was eye-opening in that it showed the extent to which the guitar has developed and its versatility in various types of music. Virtual events of the festival are still accessible through the festival’s YouTube channel. The guitar community and South Florida audiences are certainly fortunate to have the Miami International GuitART Festival, and we are all looking forward to next year’s edition of the festival! Announcements for the 2023 edition can be found at migf.fiu.edu.
Dr. Koh Kazama