The prestigious Eastern Music Festival includes a guitar program for the first time in decades. For Kami Rowan, an associate professor of music at Guilford College and director of the program, it’s a dream come true.
“I’ve waited 20 years for this to happen,” says Kami, who has taught at Guilford for the past two decades.
The College has hosted EMF ever since it was founded in 1961, but in some years no Guilford faculty or students have taken part. In addition to Kami, the guitar program has attracted five future, current and former Guilford students.
Because orchestras don’t typically include guitars, guitarists can be outsiders in the classical music world. The guitar program at EMF will help prevent that, Kami says.
“Guitarists come here and go to classes with other musicians and go to concerts every night,” she says. “That’s the overriding philosophy, to house guitar in the larger classical community.”
Thirteen students total are attending the 11-day classical guitar program, which runs through Sunday. The students are benefiting from private lessons, master classes and roundtable discussions, not to mention playing in the EMF guitar orchestra. Kami predicts the program will grow to 15-20 students next year.
One of this year’s students, Ethan Lodics, who graduated from Guilford in December, will start the University of Louisville’s master’s program in guitar performance next month. EMF allowed him to learn from, and have dinner with, guitarist Jason Vieaux, a faculty member at the festival and winner of a 2015 Grammy. The third guitar faculty member, Julian Gray, is a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory.
The opportunity for small groups of talented students to interact with world-class faculty is a hallmark of the festival. “You learn something every day,” Ethan says.
Chris Merino, another guitar student at EMF, recently graduated from Penn-Griffin School of the Arts in High Point and will attend Guilford in the fall. He’s learning from the festival faculty and from the other students.
“It’s been great meeting new guitarists,” Chris says. “People travel from all over the country to be here.”