The New York Guitar Festival is one of the few things that makes me wish I still lived in New York. If you live there or can get there don’t miss it. The Festival returns this year with a week of concerts, from May 8 to May 14, followed by a day of free workshops, master classes, and panel discussions on May 15. Players of particular interest to modern guitarists in the 2016 roster include David Torn, Nels Cline, Vernon Reid, Noveller, and Wolfgang Muthspiel. The opening Mother’s Day concert at Brookfield Place Winter Garden is in honor of the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe, with guest curator Luther Dickinson. 2016’s Guitar Marathon will take place at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, where rather than be confined to a single stage, the music will flow throughout the entire complex. Other venues include National Sawdust, and DROM.
John Schaefer of WNYC Radio will MC a live concert podcast from the Greene Space for a future airing of his show, New Sounds, with guests to be announced. The Festival will conclude on Sunday, May 15 with the launching of New York Guitar Festival Academy, to be held at The New School. The Academy will present interviews with Festival artists as well as panel discussions on improvisation, instrument design, and compositional trends.
Opening Night: “Ring the Golden Bells” Celebrating 101 years of Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Presented by Arts Brookfield
Sunday, May 8, 8:30 PM, Brookfield Place Winter Garden. FREE. 230 Vesey Street
Joining Luther Dickinson in the house band will be John Medeski on keyboards; along with drummer Daru Jones, and bassist Dominic John Davis, from Jack White’s band. AJ Ghent, whose family pioneered the “sacred steel” tradition, rounds out the ensemble.
Alternative Guitar Summit
Curated by Joel Harrison
Monday, May 9, 7 PM, Beauty and Noise at National Sawdust, 80 N. Sixth Street, Brooklyn, NY, presents Elliot Sharp, David Torn, Anthony Pirog, Ben Monder, and Patrick Higgins. Of particular note will be a rare pairing of Sharp and Torn.
Wednesday, May 11, 7:30 PM to 10 PM, While We’re Still Here A Tribute to Joni Mitchell and Carla Bley at DROM, 85 Avenue A, launches the new annual Alt Guitar Summit series celebrating living composers with inaugural honorees Carla Bley and Joni Mitchell. Eight improvising guitarists will perform one piece each by Mitchell and Bley. Artists involved include Wolfgang Muthspiel, Nels Cline, Leni Stern, Ben Monder, Sheryl Bailey, and Joel Harrison.
Thursday, May 12, 8 PM, Live From The WNYC Greene Space 44 Charlton Street John Schaefer will hosts a special live webcast. Artists will be announced closer to the date.
Saturday, May 14, 10 AM to 6 PM, at The Cloisters. 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, is Audible Cloisters: Guitar Marathon. Presented in collaboration with MetLiveArts, it is free with Museum admission The Cloisters, assembled from Romanesque architecture and borrowings from Gothic cathedrals and abbeys, features chapel-like galleries, ornately carved tombs, unicorn tapestries, and windows with centuries-old stained-glass panels. This year’s Guitar Marathon will be many unamped music, including performances on historic precursors of the guitar like lute, oud, and pipa.
Dylan Carlson, lead guitarist and singer of the Seattle-based drone-metal band Earth.
Colin Davin, who studied classical guitar with Sharon Isbin.
Derek Gripper, who transcribes works for the 21-string kora to six-string guitar.
Alberta Khoury, another Sharon Isbin student.
Min Xiao-Fen, whose approach to the four-stringed pipa is infused by Chinese folk songs, Beijing operas, the jazz of Monk and Basie.
Ben Monder, who has performed with r Paul Motian, singer Theo Bleckmann, and appears on David Bowie’s final album.
Nigel North has recorded the complete lute works of English Renaissance composer John Dowland as well as transcribed Bach’s cello suites and solo violin works for the instrument.
Noveller begins where Brian Eno and Vini Reilly end, creating “chill” soundscapes that have a fierce emotional core.
Vernon Reid will play duets with the multi-instrumentalist Laraaji.
Gyan Riley erases the boundaries between jazz, world music, and contemporary classical.
Simon Shaheen is virtuoso of the oud who plays traditional Arabic music as well as jazz fusion.
Marija Temo is an adherent of traditional flamenco, who pushes the genre in new directions.
William Tyler’s incantatory fingerstyle suggests John Fahey playing ragas.
Ryley Walker evokes the moody Brit pop vibe of Van Morrison, Nick Drake, and Tim Buckley.
New York Guitar Festival Academy
A full day of free classes, workshops, and panel discussions, it will take place on Sunday, May 15, from 9 AM to 6 PM, at The New School, Wollman Hall. 65 West 11th Street.
A partial list of events includes:
Classical guitarist Michael Newman interviewing Derek Gripper, Nigel North, and others.
The New School/Center for Transformative Media’s Ed Keller moderating a panel with luthiers on new directions in instrument design and materials.
Alt Guitar Summit’s Joel Harrison moderating panels on contemporary improvisation and the electric guitar; and trends in contemporary composition for classical guitar.
Derek Gripper discussing transcribing kora music for classical guitar.
Nigel North recreating “The French Lute of the 17th-century,” with a presentation on the instrument, tuning, tablatures, and music that a lutenist lived with 350 years ago.
More events will be announced on the New York Guitar Festival website: www.newyorkguitarfestival.org.