This weekend, the University of Memphis hosts the fourth annual Memphis International Guitar Festival. The festival is the work of U of M professor and master guitarist Lily Afshar. Her passion for developing new guitar music is the inspiration for this year's guests: Aaron Larget-Caplan and Rene Izquierdo.
"Both of them love to do new music," Afshar said. "That's what attracted me most to them: their willingness to work with composers and add to the repertoire of the guitar."
Larget-Caplan will perform on April 5th and Izquierdo on the 6th. Afshar will play on the 4th. A competition among 10 guitarists from across the country continues through the weekend as do guest-led master classes, which are held in front of an audience. All told, there is some fascinating music to be heard all weekend long.
"Rene is Cuban," Afshar said. "He is an up-and-coming guitarist with a great repertoire. His concert will consist of some new music that was written for him: 'Whirler of the Dance' by Carlos Rivera. One of my students is going to play the piece for him in the master class.
"Aaron is from Boston and is very active in the Boston music scene. He works with composers a lot. I saw him play 'Legend of Hagoromo' by Keigo Fujii. It's a mystical piece, talking about a mystical Japanese story. It's really a beautiful piece."
While she is thrilled to hear these guests and see them teach her students, Afshar is excited to showcase local talent too.
"I am going to play with two faculty members here at the University, duets for bassoon and guitar. That's something you hardly ever hear: guitar and bassoon. Being here in Memphis, I thought: I have access to great musicians at the University. So I invited them to play with me." — Joe Boone
Memphis International Guitar Festival, Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, University of Memphis. April 4th-6th. For more information, go to memphis.edu/guitarfest.