WhatsUp Interview: Adam Levin, URI Guitar Festival Director

Classical Guitar Festival Returns to URI April 5-7

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The University of Rhode Island Department of Music, in collaboration with Pump House Music Works, will host the fourth annual URI Guitar Festival next weekend. Musicians from Ireland, Greece, France, Brazil, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Russia will perform from April 5-7. All events, including performances and lectures, are open to the public.

WhatsUpRI learned more from Festival Producer Adam Levin (pictured), who is an accomplished musician and instructor at URI. Levin shed some light on the origins of the Festival.

“When I joined the URI faculty in 2015, I wanted to spearhead activities to unite the Rhode Island community, guitarists, and music-lovers with world-class artists. I also wanted to work against the nationwide current of cutting the arts, and curate an event flush with creativity and diverse musical perspectives.  The first year, the Festival was one day, the second year, it was two days, and the third and current year are both three days. The first year, we hosted three artists. Today, we have sixteen artists and lecturers participating.”

He explained how the program continues to evolve.

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“We now offer an international virtual competition for high school guitarists and young artists (ages 19 and above). This year, we are featuring the 2018 grand prize winner, An Tran, from Vietnam. We are also, for the second year, collaborating with Pump House Music Works. They are such a sensational venue that offers the perfect “virtuoso cool” vibe.”

Gaelle Solal Plays the URI Guitar Festival

With so many world class artists visiting as part of the festival, Levin struggled to pick a single highlight from the festival.

“All of the artists are world-class. I’d drop everything to see any one of them. Each of the artists offers something so different from the next. If I was looking at this festival from the outside, I would buy tickets to all the concerts. And, I’ve made it super affordable for students and general audiences. Some of the highlights include, Gaelle Solal from France, Grisha Goryachev from Russia, and Clarice Assad (Brazil/USA). Also, if you are interested in seeing someone from the current generation of young hotshots just out of conservatory, I’d check out An Tran.”

Classical music continues to have a dedicated audience, bringing people together and filling seats around the world.

Levin explains, “The classical guitar is truly a global instrument that taps into many diverse cultures and traditions. ‘Classical’ Guitar is really a misnomer. You could easily say Brazilian guitar, Spanish Guitar, Japanese guitar, American Guitar, German Guitar, Vietnamese guitar etc.

“This festival attempts to bridge cultures and traditions through world-class performances, masterclasses, and lectures. This festival is open to guitarists, students, aficionados, enthusiasts of all ages and levels. The door is open to everyone and I hope that audiences and musicians will take advantage of this unique educational experience.”

Providence Mandolin Orchestra Plays the URI Guitar Festival

Levin added, “Cream, the Classical Rock group from the late 60s, was a super group. This is a super festival. I’ve attended many festivals as a performer and participant, but never have I seen one so eclectic and filled to the brim with charismatic ambassadors for the guitar.”

Visit www.uriguitarfestival.org for more information.