The Vancouver Classic Guitar Festival has something for everyone – Vancouver Sun | Start Classified

Luis Angel Medina emphasizes that the subtext of the Vancouver Classical Guitar Festival is community, a community of players, enthusiasts and music lovers. There is a lot for the players to do, including not only private lessons but also Medina’s ensemble.

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Classical Guitar Festival in Vancouver

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Where: Vancouver Academy of Music and Deer Lake Gallery

When: 16-21 July


Vancouver’s classical music scene almost seems to have taken up residence in Burnaby this July.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra resumed its summer practice of a free concert at Deer Lake Park on Saturday, July 16. The following day, Vancouver Opera will follow with its first-ever open-air program at 7:30pm, conducted by the distinguished Director of VO Emeritus and the Nuremberg Symphony’s new Principal Conductor, Jonathan Darlington.

This month has another new event, the Vancouver Classical Guitar Festival, taking place July 16-21 at two locations: the Vancouver Academy of Music in Vanier Park and the Deer Lake Gallery in Burnaby.

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The festival began online two summers ago and was considered so successful that it has now evolved into an in-person offering, although those who can’t make it into town can still stream the events live.

Artistic Director of the Vancouver Classic Guitar Festival Daniel Bolshoy.
Artistic Director of the Vancouver Classic Guitar Festival Daniel Bolshoy. Photo by Julien Faguere /jpeg

What is part of it? A very busy week of masterclasses and workshops, ensemble playing and even a luthier demonstration where players can touch and even try out instruments. Participating students of all levels can look forward to sessions with guest lecturers including Rene Izquierdo, Daniel Bolshoy and Luis Angel Medina. There is a musical option with Lucina Zhao, a guitar orchestra with Medina, a Latin guitar night with David Sossa and improvisation with Itamar Erez.

And this is only for gamers. What about the legions of fans who often find guitar-focused music events few and far between during the regular season? The festival has three concert events that feature multiple performers in a rich repertoire. The opening concert of VCGFest takes place on Saturday, July 16th at 7pm at the Vancouver Academy of Music and features performances by Medina, Alec Pearson and Cuban-born Rene Izquierdo. On Sunday afternoon, July 17, a 2:30 p.m. matinee will include performances by Louise Southwood, Hanh Nguyen and Bolshoy.

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Festivals require a lot of work and a lot of planning if they are to succeed. That this is the third iteration of the VCGF, actually launched during the particularly difficult pandemic season, speaks for its desirability and effectiveness.

Outreach program coordinator and ensemble leader Medina explains: “I started the festival because I wanted the local guitar community to have a place to come together.”

Medina was born in Mexico and moved to Vancouver a little over a decade ago. He was completing his undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia during the brief stint that the festival’s artistic director, Bolshoy, was teaching there. When Bolshoy accepted a new position at the University of Georgia, Medina became his first master’s student.

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Medina emphasizes that the festival’s subtext is community, a community of players, lovers and music lovers. There is a lot for the players to do, including not only private lessons but also Medina’s ensemble.

“A guitar orchestra is a very rare opportunity to mingle and be a part of something beyond yourself,” he explains. “The guitar is a solo instrument, so you don’t get a lot of opportunities to hang out with your peers. The idea is to get together with everyone interested in guitar music. For me, going to festivals is above all an opportunity to grow, meet great people and be inspired by them.”

The festival’s closing event is all about seeing inspiration and growth pay off. A final Competitors’ Concert will be put together over the course of the Festival, with selected Competitors performing in a Competitors’ Closing Concert on Thursday 21st July at 5:30pm at Deer Lake Gallery, Burnaby.

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