2017-2018 Sundin Hall Concert Series

Our concert season is co-sponsored by Sundin Music Hall at Hamline University.  Matching funds have been provided by General Mills, AT&T and Excel Energy.

Phil Heywood & Tim Sparks

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, 8:00 pml

Tim Sparks and Phil Heywood are two of the reasons why Minnesota is known nationwide as a hotbed for acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Both guitarists are widely recognized for their solo careers and have inspired seasoned pros and aspiring students alike with their unique talents. Both are former National Fingerpicking Champions who have gone on to release numerous recordings and compile lengthy performance resumés. About ten years ago Tim and Phil began to work up duets and perform together. They've built an exciting and wide-ranging repertoire drawing from American folk/blues/early jazz roots, some brilliant forays into "world" music, and a few well-chosen pop obscurities. The two have honed a dynamic concert format that showcases each guitarist's solo selections and culminates in the full glory of two world-class fingerpickers going at it together. This Sundin Hall performance offers a rare Twin Cities opportunity to hear Tim Sparks and Phil Heywood in a true concert setting.

Tim Sparks has been redefining the acoustic guitar repertoire since he won the National Fingerpicking Championship in 1993 with a ground breaking arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Sparks continues to surprise, challenge, and thrill audiences with his diverse repertoire and stunning technique. Equally at home with Country Blues, Jazz or World Music, Sparks' extraordinary ability has earned him an international reputation as one of the most innovative guitarists working today.

Phil Heywood has been based in the Twin Cities since the mid-1980s, performing locally and regionally while also establishing himself in the greater guitar and acoustic music world. In 1986 he won the National Fingerpicking Championship, and followed up a year later by winning the American Fingerstyle Guitar Festival Competition in Milwaukee. He has appeared on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion, where he was thrilled to play a tune with legendary guitarist Chet Atkins. Phil has performed with just about every Twin Cities acoustic guitar luminary (including Tim Sparks, Dean Magraw, Pat Donohue, Dakota Dave Hull, Peter Lang, Spider John Koerner, Billy McLaughlin), and has opened shows for such national artists as Norman Blake, John Renbourn, Greg Brown, Chris Smither and John Hammond. The most recent of Phil's six CDs is entitled Rollin' On, released in late 2014.


Meng Su

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, 8:00 pm

Born in Qingdao, China, Meng Su demonstrated her artistic gifts as an exceptionally talented guitarist from an early age. Before graduating from high school, she had already won many awards, including the 5th Vienna Youth Guitar Competition, the 48th Tokyo International Guitar Competition, the Christopher Parkening Young Guitarist Competition, and the 2nd Iserlohn International Guitar Competition in Germany. In her short time as a performing artist, she has performed solo, duo, and quartet concerts across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Austria, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Finland, Croatia, Korea, Japan, and China, in which she has impressed audiences with an ability and artistry that exceeds her years.

Ms. Su performs regularly in chamber music setting. She formed the Beijing Guitar Duo together with her longtime friend Yameng Wang. They first met at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, China, where they both studied, but the duo was formally established at the encouragement of Manuel Barrueco who was their teacher and mentor at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. The BGD has performed in guitar centers in countries such as Poland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Serbia, Italy, China, and around the United States. In addition, they have toured in trio with Manuel Barrueco several times around the US and in Europe.


Issam Rafea

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, 8:00 pm

Winner of the 2010 "Best Composer Award" in Dubai International Film Festival (Muhr Arab) in the film "Matar Ayloul," "September Rain," Issam Rafea is the Chair of the Arabic Music Department at High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music from 2003- 2013. Rafea has studied under Fayez Zahr El-Din, Aref Abdallah, and Askar Ali- Akbar. In 1995, he received his bachelor's degrees in Oud and Double Bass performance, as well as Oriental Conducting from the High Institute of Music in Damascus. He is also on the faculty in the institute teaching oud. In Syria, Rafea has been an active composer and arranger for tv and theater since the '90s.

In addition to several solo appearances with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra which was conducted by Solhi Al Wadi, Rafea has performed internationally in countries like France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait and United States. He participated in festivals such as the Mediterranean Festival in Algeria, the World Universal Expo in Seville, Spain, Spiritual Music Festival Marseille, France, The Arabic Music Conferences in Cairo, and Babel Festival in Iraq.


GFA winner Xavier Jara

Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, 8:00 pm

American classical guitarist, Xavier Jara (b 1993), is the 1st prizewinner of the 2016 GFA International Concert Artist Competition. A native of Minnesota, Jara was a student of Alan Johnston at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis until 2011 when he moved to Paris, France to study with Judicael Perroy.

Jara studied in Paris for six years with Perroy. During this time he completed his Bachelor's Degree at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris where he also studied with French guitarist, Olivier Chassain, and lute master, Eric Bellocq. He received 1st place in a number of international competitions including the Boston Guitarfest (2014), the Gargnano, Italy Competition (2015) and the Tokyo International Competition (2016). In 2016, Jara returned home to the United States to win the Guitar Foundation of America's Rose Augustine Grand Prize.


Lute-a-Thon (with guest vocalist)

Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, 8:00 pm

The Twin Cities Lute Cooperative has been actively promoting and supporting the Minnesota lute scene for years. They have an annual concert series, The Lute Café, that showcases the talent within the lute community. The Minnesota Guitar Society is delighted to present a concert featuring the beauty and variety of music written for and played on the lute.


Montenegrin Duo

Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, 8:00 pm

The Montenegrin Guitar Duo is frequently invited to eminent international events (e.g. Festival Internacional de Musica y Danza de Granada, Kotor Art Festival, Koblenz Guitar Festival, A Tempo music festival, Guitar Foundation of America International Guitar Convention, Shenyang International Guitar Festival, Daejeon International Guitar Festival), for recitals and concerts with orchestras, as well as for masterclasses, lectures on transcribing Bach's music and adjudicating competitions. The duos' performances have been highly acclaimed by both audience and critics who praise their historically informed performances of J. S. Bach's English Suites in a new, fresh approach on two guitars.

Their repertoire includes the transcriptions of ancient music and original compositions dating from the 19th, 20th and 21th century, with a special emphasis on the contemporary music originally written for two guitars, as well as improvisation. MGD's ultimate goal is to broaden the guitar repertoire and further integrate guitar with other instruments.

Their debut CD with works by Domeniconi, Piazzolla and Bogdanovic was published in 2013 by the Montenegrin Music Centre. The first of two volumes of Bach's English Suites, a world premiere of this unique project, transcribed by the duo, was published in 2015 for Naxos Records and was praised by audience and music critics alike. English Suites Vol. 2 was recorded in October 2016 and will be released in 2017.

Goran Krivokapić is one of the leading musicians of the international guitar scene. A first prize winner at nineteen prestigious international competitions, his focus lies on the expansion and developing of guitar repertoire. He has performed all over Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Russia, appearing at major halls as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, Lubkowitz Palace in Vienna and Auditorio Conde Duque in Madrid.

Danijel Cerović is lecturing guitar and chamber music at the Music Academy in Cetinje (University of Montenegro). A versatile solo and chamber musician, he is also a member of the artistic board of the Montenegrin Music Centre and the Montenegrin Symphony Orchestra. He participates actively in the organisation of numerous international music events. He is the founder of the Niksic Guitar Festival and competition.


Emanuele Buono

Saturday, March 17, 2018, 8:00 pm

Emanuele Buono has established himself as a musician with unique musical and technical ability to make the classical guitar sing. His full technical mastery combined with high musical sensibility are consistently praised around the globe by the press following his performances and has earned him the respect of the most prominent guitarists today. His latest recording on Naxos was American Record Guide's Critic's Choice Award winner.

Emanuele's journey into the international concert scene started with the XIII International Guitar Competition and Festival of Alessandria (Italy) in 2008, where he was awarded the prestigious Golden Guitar as the best young concert-player of the year. In 2009, he won the Gold Medal at the prestigious International Christopher Parkening Competition (Malibu, USA) by unanimous decision of the jury and became the youngest winner in the competition's history. Born in Turin, Italy in 1987, he began his studies when he was very young. At the age of eighteen, he was awarded a first class degree with honors at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan and later proceeded to further his studies at the Accademia Chigiana of Siena, where he obtained the certificate of merit twice in succession.


Petra Poláčková

Saturday, Apr. 21, 2018, 8:00 pm

A musician's musician, Petra Poláčková began her guitar studies at the age of six at the Elementary Art School in Roznov pod Radhostem where she worked with Mr. Bohuslav Faltus and Mrs. Miroslava Pavelkova. She also studied with Zdenek Dvorak at the Elementary Art School Lounskych in Prague. In 2004 she graduated from an 8 year high school in Roznov pod Radhostem. In 2010 she completed her studies at the School of Music in Pardubice (Czech Republic) with Prof. Petr Saidl. She obtained her Bachelor and Master Degree with Prof. Paolo Pegoraro at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz (Austria).

Ms. Poláčková has participated in master classes throughout Europe presented by internationally acclaimed classical guitarists: Giampaolo Bandini, Leo Brouwer, Zoran Dukic, Massimo Felici, Hubert Käppel, Rolf Lislevand, Pablo Márquez, Lorenzo Micheli, Nigel North, Thomas Offermann, Stefano Palamidessi, Elena Papandreou, Paolo Pegoraro, Thomas Müller-Pering, Judicaël Perroy, Pavel Steidl, Alexander Swete, Jens Wagner, Brigitte Zaczek, Piotr Zaleski and others. In 2011 she received the Merit Diploma at the Chigiana Academy of Siena in Maestro Oscar Ghiglia´s Class.

Since 2002, she has won three first prizes in Czech Republic national competitions in Opava, Ceske Budejovice and Pardubice and six first prizes at international competitions in Dolný Kubín (Slovakia), Kutna Hora (Czech Republic), Bratislava (Slovakia), Krzyzowa (Poland) and Krynica (Poland). In 2011 she won second prize at the International Guitar Festival Rust (Austria), second prize (first not assigned) at the International Guitar Competition Stefano Strata Pisa (Italy) and first prize at the


Classical Guitarathon

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The annual Classical Guitarathon is always an exciting season finale, an opportunity to see some of our favorite local guitarists alongside new and emerging talents, all on the beautiful Sundin Hall stage.