Welcome to the Guitar Festival of Ireland 2015. This year we have fulfilled a long term goal in having the greatest guitar duo in the world – Assad Duo – play in Ireland. And this will all happen on the very special occasion of the 50th anniversary of performing together. Sérgio and Odair Assad have set the benchmark for all other guitarists by creating a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity and expression. I was lucky enough to see them in concert in the UK many years ago when I was a student and I still have vivid memories of that wonderful experience. This concert will be one not to miss!
This year the festival opens with something very unique indeed – a joint gig with two whirlwinds of fingerstyle guitar – Gareth Pearson (Wales) and Shane Hennessy (Ireland). With these two guitarists you can expect everything from funk-driven blues to classically-touched jazz standards, with Irish traditional music, jazz manouche, bluegrass, progressive, and world influences thrown in the mix. Saturday lunchtime will see the return to the Guitar Festival of GuitaRIAM, the Royal Irish Academy of Music guitar ensemble. This fantastic group was formed in late 2011 by its director and head of guitar studies Marion Hyland. Since then they have been making their mark as a fresh, cutting-edge guitar ensemble performing to great acclaim some of the most enterprising works for larger ensemble. In 2013 they premiered a special festival commission for 14 guitars by Roland Dyens to a full house in woodquay venue. This year see them sharper than ever in the John Field room at the National Concert Hall.
Renowned for her breathtaking technique and innate musicality, Berta Rojas ranks among today’s foremost classical guitarists. She has been nominated twice for a Latin Grammy Award, in 2012 in the category of Best Instrumental Album and also held the privileged position of Ambassador for Tourism for her country, Paraguay. In 2014, the news agency EFE named Berta as one of the most influential women in the Hispanic world. She is a real star of the guitar world and will be performing with another star of the guitar world John Feeley (a man that needs no introduction to Irish audiences) in the wonderful surroundings of Dublin City Hall.
On Sunday 5 July catch the noon concert in the Hugh Lane Gallery with international prize-winning Italian guitarist Giulia Ballaré. Admission is free with donations at the door. Please consider donating for this concert as it enables the festival to continue to bring top level performers to Irish audiences. Later on Sunday evening the incredible Assad Duo in Mill Theatre Dundrum followed even later that night by Ireland’s leading Flamenco guitarist John Walsh in the Irish Whiskey Museum.
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