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2015 James Stroud All-Ohio Guitar Competition and Festival

2015 James Stroud All-Ohio Guitar Competition and Festival

This year's edition of the Stroud Competition took place on the Oberlin Conservatory campus last weekend, March 13-15. We featured guest recitals by Jeffrey McFadden and Randall Avers on Friday night. The competition ran all day Saturday and our guest artists taught classes on Sunday. It was an enormously successful event. 

Founded by James Stroud in 2007 and now in its 9th year, the competition has migrated from being for University of Akron students only (he is an alumnus of my guitar program there), to being a state-wide competition, to being hosted, now, at Oberlin Conservatory. Winners receive cash prizes of $2,500, $1,250, $750 and $500. In addition, the first-prize winner will be treated to an all-expenses paid week at the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Montana in August to study with members of the L. A. Quartet and others, a valuable and wonderful bonus!

Following is a photo essay recounting our weekend together. 

Our opening concert featured half-programs each by Jeffrey McFadden, of the University of Toronto and Randall Avers, now of Oslo, Norway. Avers is an Oberlin alumnus (BM, 1997).

Jeffrey McFadden playing his Bach arrangement

McFadden talks about Luciano Berio

Randall Avers plays music of Ralph Towner

Randy improvises in Towner's Juggler's Etude

The next morning, the competition began in the gorgeous Stull Recital Hall. The great light and excellent acoustics combined well with the many terrific performances, making it an pleasant day of music-making. We had contestants from all across the state--Wittenburg University, the University of Dayton, Cleveland Institute of Music, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory, Youngstown State University, The University of Akron and Oberlin Conservatory--in all, 22 competed.

The judges respond to contestant Mohit Dubey

The judges listen to contestant Jeremy Avalos

With all three rounds in a single day, the schedule had the potential to raise the stress level of the participants. Fortunately, master luthier Frederich Holtier was there with a couple of beautiful instruments and some of his wife, Elise's superb baked treats. 

Luthier Frederich Holtier shows guitars as competition contestants wait for the announcement

James Stroud announces the finalists, with Randall Avers, Jeff McFadden and Stephen Aron

The finals took place in the acoustically perfect Kulas Recital Hall. We had an excellent crowd. Each contestant played for fifteen minutes; the full program is below. After the announcements, there was a reception in the lobby.

Brian King played first, music of Giuliani and Bogdanovic

Jacob Blizard played next, music of Bach and Legnani

Jeffery Goldenberg played music of Barrios, Villa-Lobos and Bach

Finally, Jeremy Avalos played music of Rodrigo and Regondi.

After a short deliberation, the judges invited all the finalists on stage for the announcement of the winners.

Stroud gives the announcement!

The winners: 1st Jeffery Goldenberg (Cleveland Institute), 2nd Brian King (Oberlin) 3rd Jacob Blizard (Oberlin) and 4th Jeremy Avalos (University of Akron)

James Stroud with the winners: Goldenberg, King, Blizard and Avalos

The winners with the judges, Randall Avers, James Stroud and Jeffrey McFadden

The next morning, we had a couple of master classes. Randall Avers taught first.

Randall Avers talks to Daniel Nitsch

Dan Nitsch played "alla Cubana" from Walton's Bagatelles

Next, Lenny Ranallo played the Gigue, BWV 997

Randy conducts the Gigue

Brian King played one of Bogdanovic's Balkan Miniatures

After the lessons, Randy demonstrated a free improvisation. 

Next, Jeffrey McFadden taught.

Jacob Blizard played the Bach Prelude, BWV 1006a

McFadden expounds

Blizard finds a better sitting position!

Next, Mohit Dubey played Cello Suite Prelude, BWV 1008

Jeffrey McFadden teaches Mohit Dubey

Finally, Max Lyman played a movement from Takemitsu's All In Twilight

Happily working on the nails!

In the end, everyone departed satisfied that great playing and teaching was heard and secure in the knowledge that a great opportunity for Ohio guitarists had been created thanks to the generosity of James Stroud and the hosting of Oberlin Conservatory. Thank you, all the young talented guitarist who came to compete, our terrific guest artists, and most of all, thanks to James Stroud.

We look forward to the 2016 edition of this event!!

Matthew Hinsley Speaks at Oberlin

Matthew Hinsley Speaks at Oberlin

Duo Damiana at University of Akron

Duo Damiana at University of Akron