Manchester Guitar Festival returns to the Stoller Hall for a second year with headline performances from Eric Bibb, Miguel Pérez and Aquarelle Guitar Quartet. And this year there are lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved. Carmel Thomason chats to Vicky Ciaputa, creative engagement manager at Stoller Hall, to find out more.
What can we expect at this year’s Manchester Guitar Festival?
Vicky: “The second Manchester Guitar Festival takes place at The Stoller Hall on Friday 19 – Sunday 21 May, and is a full weekend celebrating everything guitar!
“Alongside the three headline performances from Eric Bibb on the Friday, Espíritu Flamenco Presenting Miguel Pérez on the Saturday and Manchester’s own classical stars the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet on the Sunday, there will be daytime activities across the weekend including performances from professional musicians, talented students from the RNCM and BIMM, a set of workshops and masterclasses and participation events for young people”.
Spanish virtuoso guitarist, Miguel Pérez and finger-style guitar expert, Jon Gomm are just two of the musicians running masterclasses as part of Manchester Guitar Festival this year. Can you tell us a little about how these classes work and what to expect?
Vicky: “The classes will be available for festival-goers to sign up to when they arrive, and there will be a variety of workshops across both the Saturday and Sunday, covering a huge range of different styles, techniques and sounds. Each of the workshop leaders involved will be showing off their own particular expertise – for example, Miguel Pérez will be walking participants through some of the techniques of flamenco guitar performance, while Jon Gomm will demonstrate his own brand of fingerstyle technique.
They, and several of the other class leaders, will also be performing as part of the festival, so you’ll have a chance to see their styles in action too!”
How good a guitar player do you have to be to get involved?
Vicky: “We’re aiming the masterclasses and workshops for all abilities, from beginner to advanced and we’re sure that whatever level you are, you’ll leave having learned something new”.
What about people who are just starting out, is there something for them?
Vicky: “Definitely – beginners are very welcome at all of the workshops. And you don’t have to play at all to come along – If you enjoy listening to this wonderfully versatile instrument, there are performances throughout the day that people can watch whilst enjoying a drink at our Atrium bar, and a snack from our festival food supplier HM Pasties.
Plus, if you’re inspired by what you’ve seen and heard to get started on the instrument, the team from Forsyth’s Music Shop will be at the festival throughout the weekend with advice, instruments and accessories to try out”.
It sounds like there are a lot of different ways people can get involved in the Manchester Guitar Festival this year. Why was it decided to develop the festival in this way?
Vicky: “We know that Manchester is an incredibly musical city – think how many great bands and guitarists have come out of Manchester over the years, and we were looking for a way to celebrate that. The guitar also gives us a chance to bring together so many different genres under one roof – we have classical, jazz, flamenco guitar, electric guitar, all linked by a passion for the same instrument”.
What is the Guitar Choir and how can young people get involved? Do you have to play guitar or can you join as a singer?
Vicky: “Despite the name, it’s definitely for young guitarists, as a chance to perform in a big group alongside other musicians. The participants will take part in workshops during the day, run by experienced professional musician and teacher, Mike Ciuputa, where they’ll get to learn new pieces and practise different techniques in a fun and relaxed environment. They’ll get to share what they’ve learned in a performance as part of the festival at the end of the day”.
The Chetham’s Guitar Academy is new for this year too. What does this involve?
Vicky: “The Guitar Academy is being run by a team of tutors from Chetham’s School of Music alongside special musical guests. It’s for young guitarists aged 9-17 who are a little more advanced and want to improve their playing through masterclasses, ensemble playing, and lively group discussions”.
And have you got something for pre-schoolers as well?
Vicky: “Absolutely – we welcome families to the festival. Stoller Story Sounds: The Little Green Dragon is for little ones aged 3-5. Through illustrations, storytelling and a dash of flamenco music and dance, help the scared Little Dragon, scared to breathe fire, find her courage and her treasure. Families are also welcome to enjoy the performances throughout the day”.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about the festival?
Vicky: “Whether you play the guitar or love hearing the guitar, we hope that you’ll find this a chilled and enjoyable weekend – and perhaps one where you’ll get to hear something totally new to you!”
How can people find out more?
Vicky: “People can head to The Stoller Hall’s website for more information and they’re also welcome to drop any questions to the team there at firstname.lastname@example.org”.
The second Manchester Guitar Festival takes place at Stoller Hall on 19-21 May 2023.