The Corvallis Guitar Festival, which debuts Friday and Saturday, is the first event of its kind in the Willamette Valley, says Berto Boyd, artistic director and flamenco guitarist-composer.
The festival for classical Spanish guitar is the creation of the Corvallis Guitar Society.
“We started the society about three years ago, and we’ve been working up to this,” Boyd said.
The festival is at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Corvallis. It features concerts by classical and flamenco guitarists Adam del Monte and Jaxon Williams, and a series of free guitar workshops Saturday for community members. Del Monte will also instruct four up-and-coming local guitarists in a public master class.
Del Monte, who is Saturday night’s headline performer, is one of the best classical guitarists in the country, Boyd said.
He will play classical and flamenco guitar styles during Saturday’s program.
“Adam is an absolute virtuoso in both classical and flamenco styles, which is pretty rare,” Boyd said. “He’s brilliant, and plays so many notes you can’t believe he can play that fast.”
The Los Angeles-based guitarist has toured and recorded extensively. His music has appeared in films, including “Toy Story,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and “Knight and Day.”
Del Monte was one of Boyd’s early teachers and has been with the studio guitar department faculty at the University of Southern California for years.
Saturday morning, del Monte’s master class will give four students 30 minutes each to play a piece for him, have it critiqued and receive feedback.
“It’s open to the public, so people can come and witness some of the talented guitarists in our community and interact with our guest artist Adam del Monte,” Boyd said.
The festival officially begins Friday night with a classical guitar performance by Ashland native Jaxon Williams. He played a solo concert last July in Corvallis.
Williams recently returned from Spain, where he studied guitar as a Fulbright scholar. He is working toward his doctorate in guitar performance at USC.
Boyd calls Williams one of the rising stars of classical guitar in Oregon.
“We’re really excited to be part of his start,” Boyd said.
The workshops are an essential part of the festival.
Mickey Jones, a soloist and chamber musician who moved to Corvallis from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a year ago, will teach an introduction to classical guitar workshop.
The workshop is designed for those who have never played classical guitar before.
“You can walk away from this hour and 45 minute class actually being able to play a classical piece,” Boyd said.
Boyd will lead an hour-long workshop Saturday afternoon on right-hand flamenco guitar techniques. He also has something extra in store.
“I’m going to try and teach people a short Spanish dance called Sevillanas, and explain the structure, the rhythm and how the hands work,” Boyd said.
The two classes lead into Williams’ workshop, where he will teach left-and right-hand fundamentals for all fingerstyle guitar styles.
All of the workshops are free for a reason.
“The main thing we’re really trying to do is build a guitar community here and build enthusiasm around the classical Spanish and fingerstyle of guitar,” Boyd said.
The all-volunteer nonprofit group received a grant earlier this year through the Benton County Cultural Trust, which helped make the festival possible.
“It’s a lot of work behind the scenes to a put on something like this,” Boyd said. “If all goes well, we will be doing this again.”
The Corvallis Guitar Society’s monthly meetings, which are the first Monday of the month at Odd Fellows Hall in Corvallis, have generated a lot of interest in the community, Boyd said. Each meeting features a performance by a guest artist and guitarists of all skill levels are invited to play in an ensemble.
The goal for the Corvallis Guitar Festival is to create more interest.
“We’re really excited and hoping people will come out and see what we have going on,” Boyd said.