Granada, Spain 2018 -CSU Summer Arts and Festival de La Guitarra de Granada
I have just returned from an amazing month in Granada where I direct the CSU Summer Arts “La Guitarra Espanola” course. We offered the course for the first time in 2017 and it was so much fun we decided to make it a regular thing. Twenty-four students registered and spent their days playing in masterclasses for guest artists Pepe Romero, Scott Tennant, William Kanengiser, John Dearman, Matthew Greif, and Vicente Coves. They also learned about flamenco from Kai Narezo and received ensemble coachings from yours truly.
The course and the festival that surrounds it came from a proposal I made in 2016 to CSU Summer Arts. Summer Arts is the creative summer retreat for all 23 campuses of the California State University system. I’ve coordinated several courses for them in Monterey, California since 2013 and it’s always been a joy. They are such a professionally run organization and extremely supportive of the classical guitar.
When asked to suggest a location outside of the US to study the guitar, I immediately said Granada. This city and region of Spain is sort of the “mothership” for guitar players. When we weren’t in class, we would visit local guitarreros (they don’t like the term “luthier” in Granada), the Alhambra palace, the Manuel de Falla house, and every bar and café that was recommended by locals. The students also seemed to develop a questionable affection for local shawarma restaurants. I still don’t get it.
It’s really difficult not to buy a guitar in Granada. Several students picked up instruments last year and again this year. We also really got to know the builders. Raphael Moreno and Paco Marin, in particular, were so welcoming to the students. Jose “Pepe” Vigil and John Ray were also amazing!
The festival surrounding the course is entirely the work of my good friend Vicente Coves. Vicente lives in Granada and always seems to know how to make the impossible happen. He played a crucial role in helping us acquire the two locations where held the classes, the Cuarta Real de Santa Domingo and the Centro Federico García Lorca. Central air conditioning in Granada!The festival also helped present concerts by Summer Arts guest artists Pepe Romero and the LAGQ as well as additional concerts by Jose Luis Morillas, Jose Miguel Moreno, Nelida Karr, Diego El Cigala, Florian Blochinger, and many more. Locations for the concerts included spots like the Charles V at the Alhambra, the Lorca Center, Teatro Isabel Catolica, Patio del Ayuntamiento, and the Casa de Manuel de Falla.
While the guest artist and festival concerts were excellent, it was the student concert on the final day on the Patio del Ayuntamiento (City Hall) that was the most special to me. Watching the students get up in front of hundreds of local Granada residents and perform solo and quartet music with such confidence was really inspiring. The audience loved them!
I’m happy to report that we have tentatively agreed to extend our arrangement with the city of Granada through Office of the Mayor, the Festival de la Guitarra de Granada, and our newest partner the Alhambra (the palace, not the beer company!) for three more years. I’m hoping this will continue to happen forever.
I spent my final days in Granada judging the 2ndAnnual Antonio Marin Montero Guitar Making Competition, but that is another story. Adios for now!