Guitar fest strums up community interest

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(Photo/Pawan Khanal)

Dr. Robert Gibson tunes his guitar pior to his performance during the 2020 Guitar Festival concert.

Andrea Hammack

Staff Writer

A full day of classes, rehearsals, competitions and concerts were part of Troy University’s John M. Long School of Music’s annual guitar festival last Friday.

Robert Gibson, a lecturer of music and the director of the festival, has been organizing the event since its inception. 

“I selected and booked the artists, arranged the schedule, conducted the festival guitar orchestra, and coordinated all of the logistics with the School of Music and Troy University,” Gibson said. “It was a bit chaotic and stressful at times since there are a lot of moving parts. 

“We did a lot of prep work beforehand to ensure that the event ran smoothly.”

The festival brought in participants from not only the Troy area, but also from all over the South. 

“We usually have about 80 to 100 participants,” Gibson said. “The people who attended came from around Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. 

“That included students from elementary age to graduate school age, and we also had several adult professional participants.”

Gibson also had many students helping out to make sure things went as planned. 

Echo Mann, a sophomore music industry major from Luverne, Alabama, helped to assist Gibson in his tasks. 

“I helped with last year’s, and I have a lot of concert-type things I’ve been doing this semester as well,” Mann said. “For this event, I made the posters, programs, and I’ve basically been the contact for everybody, trying to make sure that everything is scheduled properly.”

Though there were many things to handle throughout the day, Mann said that the event was successful.

“It went pretty smoothly and was fairly easy-going, considering we were dealing with a ton of younger kids,” Mann said. “Some things that we have done have changed since last year, but overall the turnout has been consistent.” 

The festival also had booths set up and concerts later in the afternoon that was open to the public. 

“We had Claudio Zangirolami from Texas Guitar Gallery showing beautiful hand-made guitars,” Gibson said. “Our headliner was Adam Holzman. He played an ambitious program featuring the music of Barrios, Bach, Dyens and more. Silviu Ciulei played a half classical half flamenco concert.”

There was also a performance from last year’s college/artist competition winner, Gonzalo Arias Contreras, who shared the midday performance with Ciulei. 

“Our festival guitar ensemble featured two young soloists and the Baldwin Middle School Guitar Ensemble under the direction of Douglas Back,” Gibson said. 

“I conducted the combined group, which featured Troy students, elementary, middle and high school students, along with young professionals. We rehearsed the music earlier in the day and performed at 4 p.m.”

Mann stated that her favorite part of this event was getting more involved. 

“Honestly, I love just getting to do more hands-on things, like making the posters,” Mann said. “I also loved getting to help the kids out, especially.

“I think it’s really important for the kids to come out and see that, first of all, we do have a classical guitar program at Troy and to see the young talent that we have in our area.”

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