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Iserlohn

The Altamira Guitar Festival in Shanghai or: greetings from Iserlohn

Every year more and more Chinese guitarists are travelling to Germany to participate the guitar festival in Iserlohn, one of the biggest guitar festivals of the world.

Because of some Chinese guitar students in Germany, the Chinese guitar company Altamira got involved into that festival. Since some years Altamira is supporting the guitar competition in Iserlohn with donated guitars as prices for the winners.

And this year this company organized a guitar festival in Shanghai! No wonder, that they invited a lot of teachers from Iserlohn.

Beside Thomas Kirchhoff and his wife (and duo partner) Dale Kavanagh, Gerald Garcia was there, too and made a big guitar ensemble with around 50 students. They performed the second movement of the piece “silver clouds chasing the moon” , Gerald has written for Jun Hong Kuang, an outstanding Chinese guitarist, and which was a performance in Iserlohn before. And there were other great western artists in Shanghai, too: Aniello Desiderio, Eliot Fisk, Eva Beneke, Emma Rush and Adrian Walter to name some.

And there were around 500 participants for the competition, but only very few students, who wanted to take masterclasses. I think the average were 2-3 students for each teacher during the whole festival. In Iserlohn it would be probably the opposite.

I went to the concert of the Amadeus Duo (Thomas Kirchhoff and Dale Kavanagh). They made an excited and spirited concert during a huge thunderstorm. The sound of the rain and the thunder outside increased the tension and the good atmosphere inside the concert hall.

Eva Beneke and Emma Rush were introduced as “the two Beauties”. They made a concert with wonderful, fantastic played music, but unfortunately there was a misunderstanding with the sound engineer: the sound engineer didn`t know the word for reverb in Chinese and translated it with loudness. So the microphone was turned off and only a few people who were sitting in the first three rows could hear the excellent performances. Sometimes it is really pitty if there are no professional translators!

The last evening was given to the price winners of the competition: a lot of very young and very good playing guitarists with astonishing performances. One may be seven year old girl opened the concert with the Vals Nr.3 of Augustin Barrios Magnore. Even she played not the real rhythm, it was incredible good and I really would like to sit beside in her guitar class and watch the lesson. How can such a young child learn to play such a difficult piece? Amazing!

More normal seemed to me the first and biggest price winner. His performance of the “Mozart Variations” of Fernando Sor was a little bit boring compared with the other very interesting performances, but perfect. (and he didn`t play the slow introduction, which is a part of that piece and important).

All in all it was a great festival and very new and very good to have such an event in Shanghai! Thanks to the Altamira company, whose leader again showed that industry and commerce sometimes can help to develop culture in a very successful and effective way.

Guitarcompetition Iserlohn

This year I participated on the international guitar competition in Iserlohn. It was a very good experience and I have to ask myself why I never did something like that during my students time at the conservatory of music. My generation in Germany has a difficult relation to competitions in general what is pity and not necessary at all.

The younger generation is much more relaxed and has a better point of view in that case.

There were a few really good players and the jury paid attention not only to the perfection and no mistake aspect, but also tried to find some special personality.

My both favorites are Thomas Csaba from France, who won the forth price and Sabrina Vlaskalic from Serbia, who won the second price plus the Sarvaez special price for the best interpretation of a piece of J.S.Bach. But there were other very good players too, who didn`t go into the final like Patrick Vena from Finland and a lot of other people I can not remember the names. And of course the first price winner Irina Kulikova from Russia was fantastic!

Besides playing the guitar we had a lot of nice communication and exchanges. Next year there is no competition in Iserlohn, but a big guitar symposium with a lot of concerts and master classes. The next guitar competition in Iserlohn will be held in 2010.