James Stroud 2018 Competition and Festival
The James Stroud All-Ohio Classical Guitar Competition took place at Oberlin last week. We had fantastic guest artists to perform, teach master classes and judge, and a terrific cross-section of the state's best young guitarists on hand vying for the prizes. The competition's founder and underwriter, James Stroud, completed his MM in guitar with me in the 1980's at The University of Akron but soon after went into the finance industry and is now Senior Vice President for Investments at UBS Financial Services. He raised the dollar amounts of the prizes this year, compared to the last few years. The new prize levels this time were:
1st Prize $3,000, 2nd Prize $2,000, 3rd Prize $1,000, and 4th Prize $500. In addition, he decided to offer an Audience Award of an additional $1,000, the winner of which would be determined solely through ballots cast by the audience at the finals. Excitement was high!
Our guests this year were The Cavatina Duo (Denis Azabagic with Eugenia Moliner, flute) and Rene Izquierdo. Denis had stepped aside for the evening because of an injury and so Rene filled in for him, playing the duo program with Eugenia.
The concert was brilliant, though we missed Denis, as his duo playing with Eugenia, his wife and long-time musical partner, is unrivaled. Rene treated us to a couple of solos which the audience much enjoyed (Brouwer's Elogio de la Danza and Lecuona's La Comparsa). The complete program is at the end of the post.
Saturday morning opened with our day-long competition: Quarterfinals in the morning, Semifinals in the afternoon, and Finals at night. No rest for the weary!! We are fortunate to have access to the gorgeous and comfortable Stull Recital Hall for the early rounds. Here, the judges are listening to a first-round contestant.
The announcement of the first round results took place in Kulas Lounge, in which Armin Kelly of Guitars International, had set up a small display of fine instruments.
The Semifinalists were (in alphabetical order):
Mohit Dubey (Oberlin), Maryam Hajialigol (Cleveland Institute), Julia Humphrey (Oberlin), Nolan Juaire (Cleveland--high school), Aidan Wiley Lippke (Oberlin), Shawn McCune (Youngstown State), Henry Spencer (Univ. of Akron), Adam Sutorius (Cincinnati Conservatory), and Yeram Yoon (Cleveland Institute). The Semifinals were open to the public, and a modest-sized audience stayed for the whole show.
After the second round, Stroud again convened everyone in the lounge to announce the finalists.
The finalists were: Julia Humphrey, Adam Sutorius, Aidan Wiley Lippke and Yeram Yoon. They performed in Kulas Hall to a near-capacity crowd. For the performer's programs, see the full program, reproduced at the end of the post.
And the winners were: 1st Prize: Yeram Yoon, 2nd Prize: Julia Humphrey, 3rd Prize: Adam Sutorius, and 4th Prize: Aidan Wiley Lippke. The special Audience Award went to Julia Humphrey.
Many, many thanks to long-time friend and stalwart program supporter James Stroud, whose generosity and dedication to the young guitarists of our region has changed many lives and lifted up dozens of musicians in ways it is hard to measure.
The next day, we had three master classes. Eugenia Moliner, by arrangement with Alexa Still, Oberlin's flute professor, taught the flute studio. For that class, two of my students performed with their current duos: Brian King with flutist Katie Kim, and Mohit Dubey with flutist Karisma Palmore. (Sorry, no photos).
For the guitar studio, Rene Izquierdo taught first.
Denis Azabagic taught after a lunch break.