•Classes •Competition •Concerts
June 10-15 2024
A 6-Day Education Program
2- and 4-Person Suites at University of Houston
Welcome – Out of Towners
Master Classes, Lectures, Workshops, Private Lessons, Guitar Orchestra
Middle School thru College & Grad School
Adult Aficionados - No Age Limit
Virtual for All Divisions
2 Nights — Open to the Public — Ticketed Events
World-Renowned Guest Artists
The Festival Guitar Orchestra
Following one of our Festivals, a participant wrote the following:
“…I didn't really know what to expect going into it. What I found was a beautiful whirlwind - all guitar, all day, every day, all week - and I miss it already. (Life should have this much music in it all the time...) The week was filled with so many exciting things: performances by world-class guitarists, private lessons (same), master classes, workshops (both theory and composition - we were individually guided through writing our own etude), guitar orchestra, lectures – you more than get the idea. 😂 I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet, hang out and make music with this wonderful group of people. So much talent all around, but also warmth, encouragement and generosity. I'm amazed by how much I learned, and I've come away inspired and eager to work on all these new ideas…”
Join us in 2024!
Special This Year
Among Festival offerings are presentations, workshops, master classes and private lessons by guest artists and core faculty. Topics change yearly but always include theory and technique.
This year’s Technique topics include Phrasing, and Rasqueado.
In a Composition workshop, students write their own etudes. Presentations Include the “Exploring Suzuki Guitar”, “Harmonizing Success”, and the “Truths and Observations" that shaped Benjamin Verdery’s illustrious career spanning 40+ years.
The Festival Orchestra meets daily to rehearse Scenes from Ellis Island. Click here to listen! Verdery will conduct the orchestra as part of the closing concert. What a privilege to work with Ben all week and to play his iconic composition under his baton.
It’s not all academic. Camaraderie is important. The popular Guitar Exhibitors Showcase includes a complimentary lunch from Avalon Diner. At Open-Mic Night, students are free to play some of their favorite music alone or with a friend. A lasagna dinner is catered by the famed Davanti Ristorante. Mangia!
Participants build relationships during the week, and many return each year to renew old friendships.
See the Festival Schedule
Our 2024 concerts will be live in the Sanctuary of St. Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe The acoustics are superb for all classical guitar performances – solo or ensemble. Some performances might include other instruments, but we always feature the guitar.
|Concert - Phillip Hii ♦ String Time Duo St Philip Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX 77056
|St Philip Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX 77056
|Concert - Benjamin Verdery ♦ Festival Guitar Orchestra St Philip Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX 77056
|St Philip Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX 77056
Artists & Core Faculty
Benjamin Verdery –Classical & Electric Guitarist – Composer – Recording Artist –Educator
Hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career, Ben Verdery has performed throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia, including at the Metropolitan Opera, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 92Y Kaufmann Auditorium, Wigmore Hall (London), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), and guitar festivals around the world. “Verdery plays with the kind of infectious, childlike joy that lights up the whole stage…“ (Artfile, Toronto).
As a recording artist, Verdery has released more than 17 albums, some featuring works composed especially for him by Martin Bresnick, Roberto Sierra, Aaron Jay Kernis, Hannah Lash, Christopher Theofanidis, Ezra Laderman, Bryce Dessner, Ingram Marshall and others. He has recorded and performed with scores of diverse artists, including Andy Summers, Leo Kottke, Anthony Newman, Jessye Norman, Herman Prey, Paco Peña, John Williams, hip-hop artist Billy Dean Thomas, Jiji, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
His latest CD, A Giant Beside You (ReEntrant/New Focus Records with the Ulysses Quartet), has received critical acclaim: “an exciting sonic journey, masterfully led by Verdery together with the young and ‘fierce’ musicians (mostly women) of the Ulysses Quartet” (Kathodik webzine).
A prolific, published composer, many of Verdery’s compositions have been performed and/or recorded by John Williams, David Russell, the Assad Duo, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and Guitar Trek. He has been commissioned to compose works for guitar solo, duo, large ensembles, and film. His iconic Scenes from Ellis Island, for guitar orchestra, has been broadcast extensively and performed at festivals and universities throughout North America, Europe and New Zealand. The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet included it on their CD, Air and Ground (Sony Classical). “The music of guitarist and composer Ben Verdery ducks playfully back and forth between serious contemporary strains and pop-tinged vigor, welcoming everything in with the graciousness of a kindhearted host.” (San Francisco Chronicle) Ben will conduct this work with the Festival Orchestra at the Houston Classical Guitar Festival and Competition, June 15, 2024.
Verdery created and released several exquisitely filmed videos, most recently his collection Peace, Love & Guitars – a series of 16 videos presented in February and April 2021 through the New York City Classical Guitar Society. The videos feature solo works as well as collaborations with long-time colleagues. Other videos include From Aristotle with Mark Martin and Michiyaya Dance, Bryce Dessner’s Portbou, Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, Seymour Bernstien’s Searching for a Chorale (his Shangri La Series, filmed at Doris Duke's Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts & Cultures in Honolulu) and four videos with hip‐hop artist Billy Dean Thomas that includes the ground-breaking Black Bach.
Since 1985, Verdery has been guitar professor at the Yale School of Music. He also taught at New York University, Manhattan School of Music, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and Centro Flamenco Paco Peña (Spain). From 2007-2019 he served as Artistic Director of 92nd Street Y’s Art of the Guitar series and has produced his Maui Summer Master Class since 1999.
Ben Verdery uses D'Addario strings and guitars by Garrett Lee and Otto Vowinkel and is represented by GAMI/Simonds, LLC.
Philip Hii – Classical Guitarist – Author – Educator
Guitarist Philip Hii has performed in the United States, Mexico, Germany, and New Zealand. His Bach CD, J S Bach: New Transcriptions for Guitar ( GSP label), received high praise from critics in Germany, England, Japan and the US. It was chosen as one of Guitar Player Magazine’s “Picks of the Month" stating, “His passionate rubato and penetrating tone contribute to a thrilling performance.” The Washington Post calls the CD “exciting” and “dazzling.” and Acoustic Guitar Magazine calls him “the Heifetz of the classical guitar.”
Philip Hii has published articles in Soundboard, Guitar International, Gitarre und Laute, and American String Teacher and is a former Guitar Forum editor for the AST. Six of his Bach transcriptions have been published by Guitar Solo Publications. His most recent project is a series of books called The Art of Virtuosity.
His second CD, Stream of Consciousness (Herne Bay Productions) is a compilation of originals arranged for solo guitar and synthesizers. In 2004, he released his third CD, Frederic Chopin's Nocturnes also released on GSP), a compilation of eleven Chopin nocturnes transcribed for guitar.
Hii started the guitar at age 10. After winning a national competition in Malaysia, he left for New Zealand to study law. He won the New Zealand National Cup of the New Zealand Federation of Classical Guitar Societies and appeared on national television. He furthered his studies in England and Germany before coming to the United States in 1983. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, a jazz arranging diploma from Berklee College of Music, and a Master of Music from the University of North Texas. Admired as an inspirational educator, Prof. Hii retired from teaching at Del Mar College and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to focus on additional projects.
String Time Duo
String Time Duo was formed in 2021 by award-winning musicians Marina Alexandra (guitar) and Angelina Reed (domra). Playing a variety of world and classical music, the Duo is based in Charlotte, NC and tours nationally. Marina Alexandra will give a workshop master class and private lessons throughout the week. Angelina will join the Festival later in the week and the Duo will give their concert June 14th. Both will enhance the Guitar Orchestra’s performance of Scenes from Ellis Island, composed and directed by Benjamin Verdery, June 15th.
Marina Alexandra is an established, dynamic performer with a powerful stage presence. Finger Style Guitar Magazine described her as “an amazing player that commands the guitar with world-class technique and musicianship that is uncommon.”
Her concert career spans more than 20 years, taking her to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and hundreds of venues, including colleges, guitar festivals, and museums throughout the USA. She founded multiple duos including Duo de Vista (with flutist Teri Forscher-Milter), the M&N Duo (with drummer Natalie Petrova) and most recently, String Time Duo (with domra artist Angelina Reed).
Marina’s albums include Timeless Enchantment (Baroque, classical, modern, and Latin-American works), A Moment of Magic (modern music by Russian composer Nikita Koshkin), and Americas from North to South (flute and guitar). These received high praise from Soundboard, Classical Guitar (UK), and American Record Guide.
She has appeared on National Public Radio, Allentown Radio and performed on TEDx Talks, where the video went viral with close to 3 million views.
Born in Ukraine, Marina began her guitar studies at six. In 1996 she immigrated with her family to the United States, and in 1998 was awarded an assistantship to earn her Master of Music at the University of South Carolina. She received numerous awards in several guitar competitions.
She has served on the faculties of Furman University, University of South Carolina- Aiken, Wingate University and Columbia College and teaches at her studio in Charlotte, SC.
Marina is the founding president of the Guitar Muse Society, which hosts yearly concerts and educational events in Columbia, SC. She is artistic and executive director of the Southern Guitar Festival and Competition, that attracts participants from throughout the USA and abroad.
Russian born Angelina Galashenkova-Reed, a virtuoso of the three-string domra, has toured the world as a soloist with the Andreyev Russian Folk Orchestra of St. Petersburg and performed with them for the 100th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall. Angelina was classical mandolin soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of St. Petersburg and performed Baroque and classical music on numerous occasions at Philharmonic Hall and Capella Hall also in St. Petersburg.
After Immigrating to the U.S. in 2001, Angelina gave solo appearances around the country, most notably in Spivey Hall at Clayton State University in Georgia. She is concertmaster and domra soloist of the Atlanta Balalaika Society Orchestra and performs around the USA in the domra-guitar duo “9 String Theory”, in the ensemble “Balalaika Fantasie” and in the domra-guitar duo “String Time Duo”.
Angelina was a regular guest artist and gave master classes at conventions of the Balalaika and Dorma Association of America (BDAA) since 2010. She has a long teaching career in piano, mandolin and domra with Music and Arts and privately. She holds a Master of Music in Domra Performance and Music Education from Gnessin Institute of Music in Moscow. She is Laureate of All Russia National Competition among professional domra players (Nizhny Novgorod, 1990) and Laureate of International Competition “Cup of the North” (Cherepovets, 1992).
— Core Faculty —
Jay Kacherski – Artistic Director
"Virtuosismo" and "technical dominance" are the words used by the press to describe American guitarist, Jay Kacherski. A native of New York, Kacherski has performed around the world as a soloist and member of the Grammy-nominated Texas Guitar Quartet. He has appeared at distinguished music festivals and venues such as the Festival International de Guitarra de Taxco, Mexico, the Florida Guitar Foundation, the Brevard Music Center, Round Top, the New Orleans International Guitar Festival, the Austin Classical Guitar Society, and the International Guitar Art Festival in Shenzhen, China. He also collaborated with Grammy-winners and nominees such as the chamber choir Conspirare, Chilean flutist Viviana Guzman, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and renowned composer Libby Larsen.
Kacherski spent two years in Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar and member of the guitar faculty at the Escuela Nacional de Música, the music conservatory for the National University of Mexico (UNAM) researching, performing, and promoting contemporary classical guitar music of Mexico. His guide and teacher was world-renowned Mexican guitarist, Dr. Juan Carlos Laguna. Kacherski has since premiered and recorded many new works from Mexico and has created a complete catalog of Mexican guitar works with links to videos, audio, scores, and more that can be found at www.kacherskiguitar.com.
His debut solo album, Synthesis: 20th & 21st Century Guitar Music from Mexico, was the culmination of his Fulbright work. The recording, on the Frameworks Records label, has been hailed by Soundboard magazine as a “…brilliant album” and “one of the finest guitar solo recordings of recent years”. His latest recording, Landscapes, with Brazilian pianist Lina Morita, also on the Frameworks Records label, is an album of new works for piano and guitar duo by award winning composers: Jefferson Todd Frazier, Olga Amelkina-Vera, Luciana Bigazzi and Maurizio Colonna among others. The duo recently commissioned a new work by the celebrated Brazilian-American composer, Clarice Asaad, that will be premiered in 2024.
Kacherski is currently on the guitar faculty at Loyola University of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans, and McNeese State University, as well as NOCCA (the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.)
He is Artistic Director of the 6-day Houston Classical Guitar Festival & Competition and the Loyola Guitar Festival in New Orleans as well as the Director of the Francis G. Bulber Youth Orchestra Guitar Program.
Kacherski’s academic studies include a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Music in Guitar Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music and undergraduate degrees from Florida Southern College where he graduated with honors.
Jeremy Garcia – Associate Artistic Director
Jeremy García is a classical and flamenco guitarist, award winning composer, educator and recording artist.
His latest album, Nuevo Día, (Frameworks Records label 2023) was praised by critic Jim McCutcheon: “A refreshing take on some old standards and an excursion into contemporary flamenco-based guitar…García’s performance is spirited, accentuated by flamenco techniques including golpes and rasgueados, and played with a quasi-improvisatory, wild flamenco disposition that at no time disrespects the original music.” (American Record Guide, Nov-Dec 2023). Other albums include García y Reyna’s Baile del Sol and Café Khytaro’s Distancia.
Noted for dazzling performances throughout the United States, Garcia collaborated with the Houston Grand Opera accompanying soprano Ana María Martinez and flamenco dancers in HGO’s Suite Española (2021). He has been a soloist with the Brazosport Symphony and the Grace Symphony Orchestra. García and Irma La Paloma co-founded Solero Flamenco, Houston’s premier flamenco performance company. He is featured guitarist, and they tour nationally in Candlelight Concerts by Fever. He was recently honored to perform for Queen Sofía of Spain and guests at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Gala 2023.
A noted composer, García’s work, Zalamera Colombiana won the top prize in the Flamenco Composition category at the 2023 Séptimo Concurso de Composición para Guitarra Fidelio, in Madrid, Spain. Composers representing Spain, Colombia, France and the USA competed for this high honor. His original work Suite Andaluz debuted with the Helena Symphony in Montana where he also performed Joaquín Rodrigo's El Concierto de Aranjuez (2017).
He is Associate Artistic Director of the 6-day Houston Classical Guitar Festival & Competition and is often invited as a guest artist to numerous festivals, where he gives concerts, master classes, workshops on technique and composition and conducts guitar ensembles. García and La Paloma co-founded and directed the Houston Spanish and Flamenco Festival (2011-2016) with funding from Texas Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
García is Affiliate Professor of Guitar at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. For 20 years he was Director of Guitar Studies at San Jacinto College where he also conducted an award-winning ensemble. He gives private lessons in both classical and flamenco guitar in the USA and abroad. García earned a Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar Performance from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and Master of Music from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Eddie Healy – Education
Eddie Healy serves on the Board of Gulf Coast Guitar Association as Education Director of the Houston Classical Guitar Festival & Competition. A prolific composer and concert guitarist, Healy has performed in Spain, Mexico, and the United States. In Mexico he was featured at the 19th Annual International Guitar Festival of Morelia, the 4th Festival Internacional de Guitarra Ramón Noble, and annually in Spain at the ChamberArt Madrid Festival. He and his duet partner, Dr. Brandi Estwick, serve as faculty for the festival.
His original compositions have been performed by many artists throughout the world and can be heard on his CD, Direction. He has composed the theme to a series of podcasts produced by The University of Texas at Dallas titled “A Conversation With…”, the theme for the Arts-Based Learning for Business video series, scores for several video games, commercials, and the alma mater for Rogers Middle School in Prosper, Texas. In 2012 Healy released a CD consisting exclusively of his compositions titled, Direction. James Scott of minor7th.com said that the recording “…is a triumph, offering the listener accessible compositions matched by immaculate performances.” He published the sheet music for several of the compositions from Direction with Joachim-Trekel of Hamburg, Germany in 2010 and has 13 publications with Les Productions d’OZ to date.
In addition to his significant output as a composer Eddie has also done a great deal of arranging. He has arranged many pieces for voice and guitar, voice and guitar ensemble, and two voices and guitar ensemble. Most of them have been premiered by Healy and Dr. Estwick.
Healy is a faculty member at Dallas College and teaches at the Gray School of Music. Healy is the Assistant Director of the Texas International Guitar Competition & Festival as well as that festival’s youth competition.
He received a Bachelor’s in classical guitar performance at The University of North Texas and completed his Master of Music degree from Southern Methodist University.
Andrea Ricci Cannon – Outreach
Andrea Cannon is a performer proficient in classical and jazz guitar. An alumna of Berklee College of Music, she studied Jazz Guitar Performance and also received an Outstanding Alumni Service Award. Post-Collegiate studies include Applied Performance in Classical Guitar with Robert Guthrie of Southern Methodist University.
Cannon directs Guitar Arts Pre-Collegiate Studio in Houston and is a jazz consultant to Spring Texas School District. She formerly directed applied guitar studies at Lone Star College-North Harris County. Her students have received awards for classical performance in competitions through Music Teachers National Association, Eastfield College, University of Texas-Dallas, the Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Festival, Houston Young Artists Concerts and the Guitar Foundation of America Ensemble Showcase. Jazz students have been selected to Region Jazz Ensemble and showcased twice at Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.
She travels internationally as a clinician and performer in Europe, Central and South America as well as cities throughout the USA and Canada. Cannon has been published in the American Suzuki Journal, Soundboard Magazine and American Music Teacher. She is certified through the Music Teachers National Association and is a Registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association.
The arts advocacy group Alarte of Guatemala City, Guatemala has created a scholarship in her name. The first recipient of the 'Beca Andrea Cannon' is enjoying the benefits of a new guitar as well as expert Suzuki instruction.
As Outreach Director of the Board of Directors of Houston Classical Guitar Festival & Competition, Cannon is responsible for augmenting guitar programs in the public schools and for sending our guitarists to perform in retirement communities and hospitals.