Ninth Annual Hamilton Guitar Festival and Competition

The world of classical guitar comes to Hamilton with a festival that features concerts, workshops vendors and culminates with a guitar competition.

The world of classical guitar comes to Hamilton with a three day festival that features concerts, workshops vendors and culminates with a guitar competition.

“The festival is all things classical guitar for three days,” says educator and classical guitarist Emma Rush. “We’ve got five concerts featuring guitarists from all over Canada and the world. There’s more than a hundred guitar lessons happening, master classes, workshops, a luthier showcase with hand made, high end guitars open to the public. We’ve also got a youth day Saturday, which is like a festival within the festival where young people get to play with an ensemble and they open the concert that night.”

Rush has gathered guitarists with international acclaim to perform this year.

“There are a mix of Guitar Hamilton favourites returning and newcomers,” says Rush on this year’s performer schedule. “This year, the fabulous Mexican guitarist was at the University of Toronto for a year but he’s moving back to Mexico the day after the festival so we’re lucky to have him before his time in Canada was over. He’s playing the second half of our opening concert. The first half is an excellent Armenian guitarist, Gohar Vardanyan, who played the second year of the festival but she’s back by popular demand. On Saturday in the afternoon we’ve got Austin Wall from Minnesota, he won our competition last year. He’s got a special Canadian themed encore cooked up. In the evening, we’ve got two Canadians performing. Miodrag Zerdoner is originally from Bosnia but he’s been here for about twenty years. He’s playing a night of romantic music on instruments he’s built himself. Laura Young is a fabulous guitarist that is one of my guitar heroes in terms of her playing, teaching and general awesomeness. It’s nice to have her on board for a second time.”

“Both of our events on Sunday are open to the public,” adds Rush. “In the afternoon, the festival showcase is a great event for our participants to play and we attract some seriously talented guitarists for that. The competition finals happen at 7pm on Sunday. There’s not only a first second and third but there’s also an audience choice award. Both events are free but we’ll have a bucket for donations for those that would like to support Guitar Hamilton.”

Whether you’re a budding guitarist or you’re an aficionado of the classical guitar, Rush and this year’s Guitar Hamilton Festival offer a full compliment of performances and activities that are drawing more and more attention.

“We’re almost sold out in terms of festival registrations so there are some tickets still available for the concerts but we are going to be jam packed with participants — loads of people are coming from all over Canada and the United States so something is definitely working,” says Rush. “Word of mouth has been our biggest success as we’re getting more and more people coming to Hamilton for the whole weekend. Anyone who is a guitar fan will enjoy the festival whether you’re into finger style guitar or rock and roll guitar — we’ve got such phenomenal performers that offer a real treat for anyone who might like the guitar. If you’re interested into classical music and classical guitar should come — there’s such a broad scope for the styles within it, it really does offer something for everyone.  It’s a great weekend with great music celebrating the guitar in the heart of Hamilton.” 

The Ninth Annual Hamilton Guitar Festival and Competition happens this Friday July  through Sunday July Rob the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts (126 James St S). Individual concert ticket price are $15 or $10 for afternoon concerts and $25 or $15 for evening concerts and are available online, by phone at 905.807.4792, or at the door. Click on

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