The 2017 Northwest Guitar Festival is packed with incredible artists from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The weekend will feature performances, workshops and master classes by Martha Masters, Michael Partington, Elizabeth Brown, Michael Le Fevre, Scott Kritzer, John Mery and Hilary Field.
The Illinois Times wrote that guitarist Martha Masters “…is on a swift and certain trajectory to star territory.” Masters’ playing has been described as “seductive” (Ft. Worth Star Telegram), “intelligent and natural” (Guitar Review), and “refined and elegant” (American Record Guide). She is active as a solo recitalist, as a chamber musician, and as a soloist with orchestras. Recent concert seasons have included performances on concert series and at festivals in China, England, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Germany, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and throughout the United States.
Masters’ first CD, Serenade, is now in its second printing, and her Naxos recital disc sold over 10,000 copies worldwide in the first year of its release. Her recording of Italian music was released in 2006 on the GSP label, and a recording of early 20th Century Spanish music was released on GSP in 2009. Masters has published books with Mel Bay and Alfred, and has received critical acclaim as an author and pedagogue.
In October of 2000 Martha Masters won first prize in the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) International Solo Competition, including a recording contract with Naxos, a concert video with Mel Bay, and an extensive North American concert tour. In November of 2000, she also won the Andrés Segovia International Guitar Competition in Linares, Spain and was a finalist in the Alexandre Tansman International Competition of Musical Personalities in Lodz, Poland. Prior to 2000, Masters was a prizewinner or finalist in numerous other international competitions, including the 1999 International Guitar Competition “Paco Santiago Marín” in Granada, Spain, the 1998 Tokyo International Guitar Competition and the 1997 GFA International Solo Competition.
In addition to being on the guitar faculty of California State University Fullerton and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Masters is also the President of the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA), dedicated to supporting the instrument, its players and its music in the US and throughout the world.
Michael Partington is one of the most engaging concert players of his generation. Praised by Classical Guitar Magazine for his “lyricism, intensity and clear technical command,” this award-winning British guitarist has performed to unanimous critical praise. Audiences are put at ease by his charming stage manner and captivated by his interpretations. An innate rhythmic understanding and sense for tonal colour combine to form some of the most memorable phrasing to be heard on the guitar.
He began playing guitar at age 6 while growing up in Wales, gave his first public performance at age 7 and won his first competition at age 9. He has trained with many of the world’s greatest guitarists, including Oscar Ghiglia, Eliot Fisk, Eduardo Fernandez, Manuel Barrueco and David Russell, who commented on his “exquisite good taste and fluid perfection.”
Partington has appeared throughout North America, Europe, Russia and Scandinavia as a soloist and with ensembles. He has performed live on radio in the US and UK including BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, BBC Wales, and St. Paul Sunday on National Public Radio. An advocate of new music he has commissioned and premiered works by Stephen Goss, Bryan Johanson, Toshio Hosokawa, Angelo Gilardino, Tom Baker, Kevin Callahan and others. He released eight solo CDs for Rosewood Recordings, and can be heard on the Cadenza and Present Sounds labels. He is currently Artist in Residence and director of the guitar program at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“There is much praise that one can offer to a performer such as Partington, but he is one of those artists who possess a magic combination of a fluid technique with a wealth of musicianship. The refined manner of his sound, and his sense of phrase, articulation and dynamic were all conveyed with extraordinary attention to detail.”
-Guy Traviss, Classical Guitar Magazine
“Nimble, mercurial, subtle, and emotionally engaging, Partington’s playing consistently beguiles the ear, whether he is probing classics of the repertoire or brand-new pieces composed for him. He draws a spectacular array of effects and shades from his instrument.”
-Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times
“He presented a huge cross range of music played with a physical virtuosity that it’s a pleasure to watch as well as listen to. Partington, for all his modesty, is a genius and I would encourage you to catch him while you can. The audience were enchanted by this performance and by him too.”
-Eric Page, G-Scene Magazine
Elizabeth C.D. Brown
A specialist in standard classical guitar as well as various early guitars and lutes, Elizabeth C. D. Brown is a very active performer throughout the Pacific Northwest. Highlights from recent seasons included solo lute and baroque guitar recitals at Early Music Festivals in Berkeley and Cleveland, performing concertos by Vivaldi and Sierra and premiering a new work for guitar and orchestra with the Seattle Symphony. She has performed in operas by Purcell, Blow, Paisiello, Rossini and Verdi, as well as all of Monteverdi’s surviving operatic works. Elizabeth‘s first solo recording, La Folia de España: Dances for Guitar, features works for baroque, 19th century, and modern guitars, and has been praised for its “…apparently effortless ease.” (Lute News, UK) She is also featured in the recording Dolce Desio as a member of the early music trio Le Nuove Musiche, and in the recording Navidad: Christmas in the New World with Seattle Pro Musica. Her second solo recording, In Her Honor, includes music from the Princess [Queen] Anne Guitarbook and the Elisabeth of Hesse Lutebook, as well as her own arrangements of works by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. An enthusiastic advocate for the guitar and lute, Elizabeth has given numerous outreach performances at schools, senior centers, and community centers for the Seattle Classic Guitar Society and the Early Music Guild, as well as by arrangement while on tour. She is head of the Guitar and Lute program at Pacific Lutheran University, and has taught at Cornish College of the Arts and Seattle Pacific University. See her on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/ElizabethCDBrown or for more information visit: www.elizabethcdbrown.com
International performing and recording artist, Hilary Field, has garnered praise for her dynamic virtuosity, her sensitive musicianship, and for the emotional depth she brings to the heart of classical guitar music. Hilary has held faculty positions as the head of the Guitar department at Seattle Pacific University and Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. Hilary is a past winner of the Northwest Young Artist Series Competition and was the first guitarist to win the Frances Walton Soloist Competition. She has released several award winning CDs, including her debut recording, Music of Spain and Latin America, which was an award winner for Classical Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors.
Hilary was recently sponsored by the US Embassy to perform and tour in South America, and has been a featured performer in international guitar festivals such as Festival Entrecuerdas in Chile, Festival Internacional de Guitarra ICPNA in Perú, Série Grands Concerts in Québec, and the Long Island Guitar Festival in New York. Hilary has just released Premieres, a CD of new solo music for guitar, including music that has been composed and dedicated to her, as well as her original music. In a feature story in the prestigious “Classical Guitar Magazine” the editor, Blair Jackson, states “One of my favorite classical guitar CDs of 2015 was Hilary Field’s Premieres” adding “it’s always something of a risk to hit an audience with an entire program of new music, but the Seattle, Washington-based Field chose the pieces carefully over a long period and made sure they reflected her own aesthetic, which has always leaned towards more lyrical and accessible works.” Soundboard, the official magazine of the Guitar Foundation of America, notes “Field plays everything with a refined musicality, immaculate technique, and unfailingly lovely sound.” The Seattle Times exclaims that classical guitarist, “Hilary Field, is a dynamic player. She doesn’t just recite what can often be complex work, but imbues it with fire and grace.”
Michael LeFevre is a highly regarded figure in the classical guitar world of the Pacific Northwest. As a performer and teacher, he has been committed to bringing the art form to audiences and students for over 20 years. His concerts have been praised for their musicality and engagement with the audience while his instruction has helped numerous students maximize their potential.
In 1993, Michael won first prize at both the Northwest Guitar Festival (regional) and the Portland Guitar Festival (open enrollment) competitions. In 1995, he took first prize at the International Guitar Congress in Corfu, Greece. As part of the prize for this event, Michael received a concert guitar from the luthier Pavlos Gypas, performed a series of concerts in Crete, and returned to perform at the 1999 festival. In 2001 he was awarded the Northwest Young Artist Award, an event open to all classical instrumentalists and which offers a sponsored recital tour of the region and a performance-interview on KING-FM in Seattle.
Some highlights in his performing experience include two appearances at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall: as a soloist in the Seattle Symphony’s 2008 ‘Subscriber Exclusives Series’ and in ensemble with the St. Helen’s String Quartet in 2005. In 2003, he performed with the Seattle Opera Orchestra during the run of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. From 1995-1997 he was guitarist-in-residence at St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle performing weekly for the Taize service and appearing annually in the recital series and the Great Music for Cathedrals series. He has been a frequent recitalist in the Seattle Classic Guitar Society’s Frye Concert Series, a headliner at several Northwest Guitar Festivals, and a soloist at the Whidbey Island Music Festival. He has performed in ensemble with Cornish College’s New Performance Group, with the Seattle Guitar Trio, and with early music specialist Stephen Stubbs. Recent collaborations include performances with Walla Walla University’s I Cantorichoir, with the Walla Walla Choral Society, and with Whitman and Walla Walla University faculty members at Whitman’s Kimball Theater. In 2012, he commissioned and premiered a new work, Sonata, from acclaimed composer Bryan Johanson.
Prior to his move to Walla Walla, Michael had been the classical guitar instructor at Cornish College of the Arts from 2007-2009. From 2001-2004, Michael taught seminars on classical guitar technique at the National Guitar Summer Workshop- Northwest Branch, Seattle Pacific University. He frequently gives master classes at many of the regions colleges, including Portland State University, Pacific Lutheran University, Eastern Washington University, and the University of Idaho. He has adjudicated and given workshops for the Washington Music Educators Association in Ellensburg and Pasco and for Musicfest Northwest in Spokane. More recently, in 2013 he was on the faculty at Whitman College and, since 2011, has been guitar instructor at Walla Walla University. He has had former students take top honors at the Northwest Guitar Festival and many have gone on to advanced degrees at such institutions as Yale and the San Francisco Conservatory.
Mr. Kritzer’s consummate commitment to technical excellence as the solid structure beneath an unparalleled sense of musicality has since brought him over a decade of accolades from audiences and critics alike, in concert halls in San Francisco, Frankfurt, Vancouver, B.C., Los Angeles, Sapporo, Washington, D.C., Munich, including critically acclaimed performances in New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, England. He has been featured in Japan’s Guitar Magazine, London’s Classical Guitar and Guitar International as well as in America’s Soundboard and Guitar Player magazines.
In 1996 Mr. Kritzer was chosen by Oregon Senator Mark O. Hatfield to represent the entire state of Oregon in a special performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Kritzer released Romance for Guitar, dedicated to his teacher Michael Lorimer. Oregonian critic David Stabler said of his recording….”Kritzer blends virtuoso skill with an acutely musical ear.” The recording is available on Cavatina Records. His popular Classical Guitar Christmas is available on Miramont Records.
In addition to a busy concert schedule Mr. Kritzer is a highly sought after instructor of the classical guitar. His popular method is taught to both local students through private and informal workshops as well as to students from all parts of the United States, China, England, Norway, Dubai, and Ireland through an innovative internet format. His annual workshop, Classical Guitar Immersion, is in its fourth season and draws both local and international students.
Many of his past students have won regional, national and international guitar competitions and have gone on to attend such notable schools as The Julliard School, the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, the North Carolina School of the Arts and his alma mater, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music.