EDINBURG – The UTRGV Guitar Festival, a unique celebration of the guitar and its place in the culture of the Rio Grande Valley, this year marks its ninth anniversary with free public concerts held in the UTRGV Performing Arts Center on the Edinburg Campus.
APRIL 30: The festival opens Sunday, April 30, with a 7:30 p.m. classical guitar concert by Javier Calderon, widely considered one of the most expressive and exceptional guitarists of our time.
MAY 3-4: The celebration continues on Wednesday, May 3, and Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m., with Cuadro Flamenco, a performance by UTRGV dance students, choreographed by Fred Darsow and featuring Flamenco singer José Cortés and guitarist José Tanaka.
MAY 5: At 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, the Cinco de Mayo Guitar Extravaganza will feature an evening of classical and Flamenco guitar, with guest artists Rafael Scarfullery, Luther Enloe and Ben Woods.
MAY 6: At 11 a.m. Saturday, May 6, UTRGV hosts A Day of Guitar, with guitar workshops and clinics to inspire and inform guitarists of all levels. Workshops and clinics are free of charge. Everyone is welcome to bring a guitar, participate and enjoy.
MAY 6: The festival draws to a close Saturday, May 6, with a 7:30 p.m. concert called Local’s Night, which highlights performances by UTRGV and high school guitar ensembles from across the Rio Grande Valley.
JAVIER CALDERÓN: When Calderón played his solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times called him “… a virtuoso with poetic sensibility.” Since then, composers like Alan Hovhaness and Lawrence Weiner have been writing and dedicating guitar concertos and solo pieces to Calderón, who now tours extensively in the United States, Europe, South America and the Far East. He appears regularly as a concert soloist with orchestras that include the St. Louis and Atlanta symphony orchestras and the Minnesota Orchestra, and in solo recitals around the world. Calderón has performed chamber music concerts with cellist Yo Yo Ma, and has been featured at numerous international music festivals. His concerts have been broadcast in the United States by PBS, by Radio Television Española in Europe, and by the Voice of America in Latin America. Calderón is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Music, where he founded and heads the guitar program.
JOSÉ TANAKA: Guitarist José Tanaka was born in Kyoto Japan, and raised by family steeped in the Flamenco arts – his father and his uncle both are Flamenco guitarists, and his mother is a Flamenco dancer. So steeped is the family in Flamenco culture that his parents named him José to further strengthen his ties to Flamenco. Tanaka has been performing since childhood.
JOSÉ CORTÉS FERNÁNDEZ: José Cortés Fernández was born in the south of France in 1974, to an important gypsy family from Almería. When he was 10, he began his career in Jerez de la Frontera, in southern Spain, where he won the “Premio del Jóven Aficionado del Cante Flamenco,” accompanied on guitar by Terremoto Hijo. He has been immersed in the world of Flamenco with the greatest artists of the genre, including Terremoto, Pansequito, Camarón de la Isla, Moraito Chico and Tomatito.
LUTHER ENLOE: Possessing a distinctively resonant sound, lyrical phrasing and technical finesse, classical guitarist Luther Enloe has received acclaim from concert presenters and audience members alike for the expressive command of his live performances. John Sutherland, his former teacher at the University of Georgia, said Enloe’s sound is one of the best he has ever heard. A recent solo concert highlight includes the premiere performance of Tonoi XI for solo guitar, written for and dedicated to Enloe by Atlanta composer Nickitas Demos. Enloe is instructor of guitar at Georgia State University, and artist affiliate in guitar at Emory University.
RAFAEL SCARFULLERY: Scarfullery has performed at key festivals, including the Ibero-American Guitar Festival, the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival in Maryland and the Bethlehem Guitar Festival. He has performed a solo recital at Carnegie Hall, and at guitar festivals and competitions in the Dominican Republic. He was recipient of the highest classical music award in the Dominican Republic, and has organized seven guitar festivals there. He teaches guitar at Randolph College in Virginia, and has taught guitar at Sweet Briar College, Shenandoah Conservatory, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo and the Conservatorio Nacional de Música de Santo Domingo.
BEN WOODS: A master Flamenco guitarist and innovator, Woods performs authentic Spanish Flamenco guitar, but is best known for his unique Flamenco-Metal style. He plays music and guitar festivals, clinics and concerts around the world, and is an impressive musician and an engaging entertainer. He has more than 3 million YouTube views, and has acoustic arrangements of Rock/Metal/Surf/Flamenco material.