Bluegrass masters and Spanish virtuosi on offer at this year’s four-day Festival in the South Australian capital.

The 2016 Adelaide Guitar Festival has announced this year’s line-up, featuring more than 300 artists performing during the four-day event, August 11 – 14. These include 18 international acts, 66 national artists and almost 200 local musicians.

Headlining the festival this year will be two world-class acts imported from America. 21st-century Bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers, who return to Australia for the first time since 2012, will showcase almost every stringed instrument imaginable, including banjos, mandolins, basses, violins and, of course, guitars. Their one-of-a-kind style is described by Adelaide Guitar Festival Artistic Director, Slava Grigoryan, as “unique, soulful and virtuosic.”   

The Punch Brothers

Multi Award-winner Béla Fleck, alongside singer-songwriter and partner Abigail Washburn, bring the blues-jazz-folk fusion that recently earned them a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album to Adelaide Town Hall. With a list of collaborations ranging from Symphony Orchestras to jazz icons, the eclectic stylings of this extraordinary duo promises to be the highlight of this year’s offering.

The artistry, passion and deep affinity with the guitar found in Spain will receive a special focus this year, with a number of world-class Spanish exponents scheduled to perform. The life of Paco de Lucía, the flamenco great who passed away in 2014, has been immortalised by his filmmaker son, Curro Sánchez, and a screening of this touching tribute documentary, Paco de Lucía: The Journey, will be accompanied by a special Q&A with Sánchez, as well performances by renowned flamenco dancer Maria Bermudez, and local ensemble, Flamenco Areti.

One of Spain’s most revered guitarists, Ricardo Gallén, will display his technical pyrotechnics in a performance of the notoriously challenging guitar works of Bach. He will be joined in this programme by the winner of the 2014 Adelaide International Classical Guitar Competition, Bogdan Mihailescu.

Ricardo Gallén

Francisco Bernier, director of the Seville Guitar Festival, will present the Australian premiere of Memories of Spain, an evening showcasing some of the finest masterworks in the canon including pieces by Sors, Turina, Abril and Terrega.

Inspired by contemporary flamenco while remaining firmly rooted in Andalusian tradition, Bandaluzia presents an innovative interpretation of the art form. Led by flamenco virtuoso Damian Wright, joined by dancers Jessica Statham, Rosialie Cocchiaro, and brothers, mandolinist Ben Hauptmann and percussionist James Hauptmann, this performance offers a radically new view of Spain’s musical heritage.

Classical fans also have plenty to look forward to at this year’s festival. The Guitar Festival Symphony Gala, featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, will present world premieres by esteemed Cuban composer, Leo Brouwer, and Australia’s own Andrew Ford. The Adelaide International Classical Guitar Competition will also provide a host of exciting musical discoveries as the annual search for the next talent winner commences.

Australia’s Karin Schaupp will join Adelaide Guitar Festival Director Slava Grigoryan, the Australian String Quartet and the Adelaide Guitar Festival Orchestra for a performance of rarely heard gems for guitar and strings in a specially curated salon performance.

Karin Schaupp

In addition to the usual range of performances by revered guitar luminaries, Grigoryan is introducing a range of newly devised events at this year’s Festival, aimed at connecting with untapped audiences across the South Australian capital. Guitars in Bars and Other Places offers performances in pubs and clubs across the city, increasing the number of venues at the Festival by more than 100 locations.

There is also a range of events aimed at devoted guitar enthusiasts. 15 Minutes of Fame provides local hopefuls with the chance to be counted among this year’s roll call of artists. In addition to performance spotlights, there will also be workshops, master classes and artist lectures revealing the skills and experiences of the world’s great guitarists. Meet the Maker, at the Guitar Expo, will exhibit exquisitely hand-crafted one-off instruments by some of Australia’s most talented guitar luthiers, while The Yamaha Come and Try Room provides a free event that gives intrigued beginners the chance to pick up an instrument for the first time, with a range of novice instruments available for purchase.

Full details of the 2016 Adelaide Guitar Festival programme are available now.

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