A Welcome From The Director

Festival Participants & Music Enthusiasts, 

It gives me great pleasure to invite you, for the fifth year, to the University of Rhode Island Guitar Festival and Rising Star Competition. As artistic director of the festival, I remain fascinated by the truly international nature of the guitar and its plucked instrument siblings. To this end, I have invited artists from all over the world, including South Africa, France, South Korea, Australia, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and across the United States. For me, personally, the festival artists are a true inspiration because they offer fresh and creative perspectives on music both familiar and foreign. The first evening will be a special one. For the first time ever on the East Coast, we will hear and watch the premiere of a powerful music scoring to Alfred Hitchcock’s silent film The Lodger by Austin,TX-based composer, Joseph Williams III. This will feature The Great Necks Guitar Trio, Redmond O’Toole, and a guest cellist. It will be a riveting experience for all of us. Plus,we’ll be serving hot dogs that night.


The second day in the afternoon will feature the winner of the 2019 Rising Stars Competition and South Korean guitarist, Bokyung Byun, and French master contemporary and classical guitarist, Pierre Bibault. Saturday night we will hear the winner of perhaps the most important guitar competition in the world-Guitar Foundation of America- Raphaelle Feuillatre (France), and Irish Brahms guitar virtuoso, Redmond O’Toole. Sunday will feature two recitals; the afternoon recital will feature two ambassadors of the classical guitar, Luther Enloe and 10-string extraordinaire, Nicolo Spera. For the gala finale, we will hear master Kora (21 string African harp) player, Yacouba Sissoko, together with return guest artist from South Africa, Derek Gripper.  Derek and Sissoko will join forces to perform some of the great great kora music of the last century.


In addition to the world-class concerts, we offer our participants a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with the guests artists in a masterclass format. Our greatest achievement is making this festival an educational platform for artists and students to freely exchange ideas, ultimately allowing students to grow on the guitar. We will also hear lectures from two wonderful minds; first, Gregg Nestor, about arranging music for the guitar; second, Peter Zisa, about Music Therapy and the guitar.


I’ll be honest, guitar competitions have never been my favorite. However, I’d like to offer high schools students and those older than age 19 the opportunity to engage in a low-key competition, I’ve found that offering an online competition gives participants the opportunity to perform at their best while keeping the environment at the festival collegial and fun. Our prizes include an appearance at the next edition of the festival, a Kenny Hill concert guitar, a string package from Augustine Strings, a gift certificate from Strings By Mail, and scholarships to join the festival at a future edition.


This festival has been the ultimate way for me to unite guitarists from around the country and world and spend some quality time together. Selfishly, I can hang out with musicians who inspire me and see what wonderful achievements participating students are making on the guitar. I hope you’ll join us again this year as we make music together and educate each another.

Adam Levin
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URI Department of Music

105 Upper College Rd,

 Kingston, RI 02881

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