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The West Texas Guitar Festival was started by the UTPB Music Department in 2009 when local guitar educators approached Dr. Keast with concerns over violin judges evaluating their guitar students at solo contest. Secondary band and choir students attend several contests and festivals, compete for All-State membership, travel to exotic locations such as the Bahamas and Hawaii, while guitarists attend solo contest to be judged by a non-guitarist. There is little equity in the treatment of guitarists by the state and local music organizations and thus the West Texas Guitar Festival was created.
Thursday evening of the festival is traditionally “Locals Night” featuring a parade of local guitar ensembles ranging from elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools, through the area colleges and universities. Friday night has featured jazz artists such as Bobby Broom, Daniel Rodriguez, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Michele Ramo or Internet sensation Andy McKee. The Saturday concerts featured classical guitarists Carlo Pezzimenti, Andrew York, David Brandon, the Texas Guitar Quartet, and Ana Vidovic with winners of the competition. The Saturday events start at 8am with masterclasses and workshops on various topics from flamenco guitar style, mariachi techniques, jazz chords, blues riffs, to singer/songwriter classes. The difficulty level of the Saturday events is spread evenly between beginner, intermediate, and advanced players. A large source of 100+ participants are from the local school district.
The West Texas Guitar Festival is unique in that it operates a solo competition, small ensemble competition, and offers participants the opportunity to perform in a mass ensemble. The 2014 mass ensemble world premiered a commissioned work by Native American guitarist, Gabriel Ayala.
The Festival is possible with the support of partners and donors - please show them your support and thanks when possible!