Symposium 2000 - Impressive as ever
By Michael Scott, Halifax/Canada
This summer marked the 9th annual Guitar Symposium Iserlohn/Germany. Sponsored by the D'Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts and organized by Thomas Kirchhoff and Dale Kavanagh (The Amadeus Guitar Duo). This incredible musical event prompted guitarists from around the world to converge on the tiny town of Iserlohn, Germany (located approx. 100km east of Cologne).
The course actually takes place at the Evangenlische Akademie of Iserlohn, which sits on a beautiful estate.
The festival itself was comprised of 22 world-class teachers instructing 145 active participants from 28 different countries including 16 students from Canada and the United States, students from Japan, Singapore, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and all over Europe making it one of the biggest and most important classical guitar festivals in Europe.
The remarkably low tuition (EUR 354,-) entitled students to 4 individual lessons, 13 concerts, various group classes (scales class, finger aerobics) very comfortable rooms and full meals.
Aside from that, we were all encouraged to make use of the fact that several guitar builders, retailers etc. were on site to show off their work. Students also had the option of sitting in on as many lessons as they liked.
This was particularly educational given the caliber of the staff; David Russell, Oscar Ghiglia, Sergio and Odair Assad, Eli Kassner, Hubert Käppel, David Tanenbaum and Roland Dyens, Dale Kavanagh, Stephen Robinson and Gerald Garcia were just a few of the favorites.
Every evening we were treated to at least one world-class performance. Keeping in line with tradition, a hand full of these performances were the scene of practical jokes devised by organizer Thomas Kirchoff and British guitarist Gerald Garcia. This year the audience showed their appreciation for Hubert Kappel's choice in an encore by pummeling him with ping-pong balls in regards to his favourate encore "Pongue" by Stepehen Funk Pearson.
Kirchhoff's crowning achievement though was his incitement of two local police officers to arrest the British Eden-Stell Guitar Duo on smuggling charges. Rest assured however, no guitarists were seriously injured during the making of this festival.
After the evening concert, new comers to the festival were treated to one of the most refreshing aspects of the Iserlohn Symposium. Every night of the festival, Iserlohn is the site of an incredible party, and at those parties, there is no noticeable distinction between students and teachers. Whether sharing a pint with Oscar Ghiglia, or watching David Russell shoot coins from his naval, (I have pictures) students had a very rare opportunity to get a better understanding for the performers/composers/teachers that have shaped all of our musical lives.
The Iserlohn Symposium is simply one of the best classical guitar events in the world. The quality of teachers and performers matched with economy of tuition, makes it a summer course few students can afford to miss.
The teaching line up for 2001 promises to be as impressive as ever with the addition of Eliot Fisk, Paul O'Dette, Alvaro Pierri, The Amsterdam Guitar Trio, Marco Socias, Wang Yameng, Gerald Garcia, The Eden-Stell-Duo, Eli Kassner, Stephen Thachuck and many others. 140 students will be able to participate, making it again one of the biggest guitar events in Europe. I am also told that in addition to the usual exhibitions, Detlev Bork will be on hand with more than 4500 recordings of guitar music. The deadline for application is July 20, 2001 but this year was booked by March, so early application is advised!