to the third edition of Miami International GuitART Festival (MIGF) at the Florida International University School of Music. It is my honor and privilege to serve as the Artistic Director of MIGF. We will be celebrating Miami’s Cuban heritage in the upcoming festival A LO CUBANO. Thanks to the generous Knight Arts Challenge Award from the Knight Foundation, we are dedicating the festival to Cuban music and featuring extraordinary artists in eleven concerts, six masterclasses, five lectures, and a round-table composers panel.

Featured artists visiting from Cuba will include one of Cuba’s most influential musicians virtuoso guitarist and composer Maestro Eduardo Martin and guitarist/composer/pedagogue Maestro Martin Pedreira Rodriguez. Among the other great Cuban artists participating in the festival are Iliana Matos (Alberta, Canada), Rene Izquierdo (Wisconsin, U.S.), Rafael Padron (Miami, U.S.), Thomas Uriarte (Miami, U.S.), Carlos Rafael Rivera (Miami, U.S.), Zuleida Suarez (Cuba/U.S.), and Alberto Puerto (Cuba/U.S.). Additionally, we will be presenting the charismatic virtuoso guitarist Eliot Fisk (Boston, U.S.), Marcin Dylla (Poland), Adam Levin (Boston, U.S.), Eren Sualp (Turkey), Pierre Bibault (France), Sam Desmet (Belgium/U.S.), Nutavut Ratanakarn (Thailand), Emilio Rutllant (Miami, U.S.), Sandro Lazzeri (Italy), Emiliano Leonardi (Italy), and Celso Cano (Peru/U.S.), as well as the FIU Symphony Orchestra, directed by Maestro Javier Jose Mendoza (Mexico/U.S.). I will also be performing together with the wonderful Amernet String Quartet.

Engraving of Leo Brouwer by the great Cuban contemporary artist Nelson Dominguez in his studio house (Photo by Mesut Ozgen)

The festival opening concert A lo cubano on Monday, February 19th, will feature many festival artists performing solo and chamber works by Cuban composers, as well as a world premiere by Maestro Fredrick Kaufman. We will be honoring the musical legacy of Maestro Leo Brouwer with a Tribute Concert, featuring FIU Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, February 21st, performing under the direction of Maestro Javier Jose Mendoza, who will also premiere on Friday, February 23rd, a new guitar concerto by Carlos Rafael Rivera, commissioned by the MIGF, with soloists Marcin Dylla and Rene Izquierdo. Eduardo Martin will be closing the festival with his duo partner daughter Galy Martin, joined by another Cuban virtuoso, Iliana Matos.

In addition to our annual composition competition, I am pleased to announce the inaugural Concert Artist Performance Competition (CAPC) which will be running concurrently with the festival this year. The CAPC welcomes guitarists of all ages and nationalities. The MIGF competitions will award talented guitarists and composers with a total of $10,000 cash prizes!

Masterclasses will be conducted by Eliot Fisk, Marcin Dylla, Rene Izquierdo, Adam Levin, Iliana Matos, and Martin Pedreira Rodriguez. The classes are open to the public to audit as an audience while the enrolled players perform for  the masters and get lessons from them. There are only 33 spots for active participants, don’t wait long to enroll as a performer in the masterclasses. Among the lecturers are early music specialist Dr. David Dolata, Frank Koonce,Martin Pedreira, Momcilo Aleksandric, and Sean Samimi. Our annual composers panel will gather non-guitarist and guitarist composers on a round-table discussion on various issues of writing for guitar. The Luthiers Expo will be presenting a wide variety of wonderful guitars of the talented luthiers during the festival.

The MIGF has been a successful annual event thanks to all guest artists, our generous sponsors at all levels, tireless student volunteers, and audiences. Without you, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to accomplish this tremendous task of organizing a major international festival and making it a successful contribution to the lives of South Florida residents and in general to the music and guitar world. Thank you so much for sharing our excitement and joy of being part of this great festival. You can view the photos and videos from the festival events here on the media pages, as well as the festival facebook page and youtube channel.

I look forward to seeing you in the last week of February 2018 as we celebrate the music, Miami’s Cuban heritage, our beloved instrument, and the Art in general. Who wouldn’t agree with what great Manuel de Falla said,

“The harmonious efforts which our guitarists produce unconsciously represent one of the marvels of natural art”!

Mesut Özgen
Artistic Director and Founder


Equal Opportunity/Access Employer and Institution
TDD via FRS 1-800-955-8771
To request materials in accessible format, sign language interpreters, and/or any disability accommodation, please contact the FIU’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs & Diversity (EOPD) at 305-348-2785 two weeks in advance to initiate your request.