The 25th Annual Northwest Guitar Festival took place the last weekend in March at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho under founding director James Reid. The festival was started in 1991 to give students in the Northwest an opportunity to attend an event similar to the international GFA Festival but at a lower cost and for a shorter period. In recent years, the addition of a youth competition (this year aided by a generous donation from Michael Nicoella and Michael Partington) and the guitar orchestra has helped the festival grow. The annual festival travels around to a different city in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.
The 2017 Northwest Guitar Festival will be held April 7-9 at Portland State University under the direction of PSU Guitar Instructor and Oregon Guitar Quartet member Jesse McCann.
This year’s festival delivered fantastic performances. Interestingly there were only two solo guitar programs; Seattle guitarist Michael Nicoella, (on classical and electric guitar) and Michael Videon from Bozeman. Other performances included interesting ensembles including Michael and Kelleren Millham (voice and guitar), David Feingold (solo guitar, guitar and violin and guitar, violin and bass) and of course The Oregon Guitar Quartet. Finishing the weekend was a performance by artistic director James Reid and John Paul Shield, the South Hill Guitar Duo from Idaho. Oh, and I almost forgot the NW Guitar Festival Orchestra under the direction of Mark Wilson (Seattle). Guitarist/Composers also shined at the NWGF. Michael Nicoella and David Feingold have written some substantial works for solo guitar. Bryan Johanson’s “Quartet on an Abandoned Prelude” performed by the Oregon Guitar Quartet showcased his skills as a composer, arranger and guitarists. All of these composers deserve looking into for the guitarist who wants to venture into 21st Century repertoire. Aside from the performances the three days were filled with masterclasses by Michael Nicoella, Bryan Johanson (OGQ) and David Feingold, a lecture by Spokane guitarist Dr. Paul Grove, guitar orchestra rehearsals as well as a youth and adult competitions.
Mark Wilson reminded me that I performed in the first NW Guitar Festival, also held in Moscow, Idaho in 1991 and even remembered some of what I performed; Electric Counterpoint by Steve Reich and a major work that I commissioned from Bryan Johanson. It was about that time frame that I began to tour heavily throughout the US, Canada and Europe and left my teaching jobs at Lewis & Clark and Reed Colleges. While I was out ‘goofing off’ teacher/performers like Bryan Johanson, David Feingold, James Reid, Alex Dunn, Michael Nicoella, Michael Partington, and others were training students who went on to develop collegiate programs and active studios in cities throughout the NW including Pullman, Spokane, Pasco, Cheny, Lewiston and Bozeman. Many of their students were performers at this year’s festival. Its inspiring to see how their work has flourished.
It was a great weekend personally. My student Michael Hermes placed first in the youth competition (see more on the Youth Competition HERE). and I was able to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Inspired by the performers and masterclasses I got up early each morning to get a solid practice completed before my day began! Don’t miss next year’s festival!
Big thanks to founder James Reid for his forethought and endurance, to all the teacher/performers in the regions who have been instrumental in furthering the guitar in our region!!