Read a review of the MIGF 2023 written by Dr. Koh Kazama on March 5, 2023:
2023 Miami International GuitART Festival 8th Edition
The eighth annual Miami International GuitART Festival at Florida International University directed by Dr. Mesut Özgen, director of guitar studies at FIU, was once again a successful festival of a variety of concerts, workshops, masterclasses, and a luthier expo. The lineup of guest artists this year was very diverse and included Stephen Goss, Rafael Padron, Robert Trent, Lippincott Jazz Quartet, and Los Hermanos Calero.
The concerts covered a wide range of genres and artists, from traditional Venezuelan music played by Luciana Kube and Edward Ramirez to jazz played by the Lippincott Jazz Quartet to new music and a premiere performed by Mesut Özgen. Rafael Padron opened the festival with a solo concert of beautifully played music by Tarrega, Brouwer, and Miami local Ricardo Gonzalez.
Other concerts included musicians such as Carlos Serrano, Los Hermanos Calero, Federico Bonacossa, Laura Verdugo del Rey, Robert Trent, Susana Frade Machado, and Gabriele Leite. Carlos Serrano presented a concert program of Haitian inspired music, as well as Colombian music on classical guitar, while later that day Los Hermanos Calero performed traditional Colombian songs. Federico Bonacossa performed a mostly new music program, including works he composed himself. One of the pieces in his concert included the use of a MIDI guitar with just intonation, exposing the audience to a new sound to the world of guitar. Last minute guest artist Gabriele Leite played wonderful interpretations of music by a variety of composers including Villa-Lobos, Assad, Bach, Walton, and Bellinati. Robert Trent performed on the last day of the festival and presented new music and 19th century music on two different instruments: a classical guitar and a romantic guitar, respectively.
The highlight of the festival was the world premiere of “Wynwood Walls” Concerto, written by British composer Stephen Goss and played by and dedicated to Mesut Özgen. The title was inspired by the Wynwood Walls of Miami, and it was not your conventional three-movement concerto – it consisted of 11 movements, and each movement was based on a visual artwork. Projection of images and videos that were the source of inspiration for the music were presented with the music, giving the audience a unique experience of seeing visual cues for the music being played. The concerto took one along a journey of these artworks, and despite having 11 movements, it was very cohesive, and the movements were interconnected. A return to the thematic material of the beginning as the concerto approached its ending gave for a satisfying conclusion to the concerto. Mesut Özgen performed this virtuosic concerto with great precision, musicality, and timing.
Lectures were presented by Stephen Goss, Rafael Padron, Robert Trent, James Webb, and Koh Kazama. Topics ranged from Biopsychosocial Composition to Science and Music. In addition to the informative lectures, there were master classes presented by Rafael Padron, Mesut Özgen, Laura Verdugo del Rey, Stephen Goss, and Robert Trent.
In addition to the concerts, lectures, and masterclasses, there was a guitar composition competition. This year’s winner was Jorge Caballero, who submitted a piece called “O King Dreaming. Pablo Borras’s “Guitarra de mimbre” earned Honorable Mention.
The Miami International GuitART Festival spanned a total of nine days and was filled with events that were beneficial to the guitar student, guitar enthusiast, and guitar professional. Although this festival was focused on classical guitar, it was unique in that it included other genres, such as jazz, and traditional Latin music. It was wonderful to experience the diversity of the guitar and how it is an instrument of many genres and styles from around the world. We are looking forward to next year’s edition of the festival!
Dr. Koh Kazama