The UTB/TSC Guitar Ensemble Festival began in March of 2001 for a duel purpose: to give young guitar students the opportunity to perform in a competitive though encouraging environment, and to bring some of the best guitarists to a Valley stage so that these young and maturing musicians can see great artists perform.

Now the UTB Guitar Ensemble and Competition is back and continues into the weekend, March 26-March 30, 2008.

Previous performers have included classical, flamenco, flamenco nuevo and popular artists performing on classical-type guitars. This year’s line up is impressive. On Thursday night, March 27, guitarist Scott Tennant performs at the Set B Lecture Hall on the UTB campus.

Tennant is an American classical guitarist. He is a member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and is the author of the Pumping Nylon series of instructional books, repertoire supplements, and DVD.

He is a founding member of the Grammy-winning ensemble L.A. Guitar Quartet, and is himself considered to be one of the world’s top classical guitarists. Tennant was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1962, and began his musical and guitar studies at the age of six.

Friday night, March 28, classical guitar vituoso William Kanengiser performs at St B beginning at 8 p.m. Recognized as one of America’s most brilliant guitarists, William Kanengiser has developed a unique repertoire for his instrument, ranging from dazzling arrangements of Mozart, Handel, and Bartók to his innovative excursions into the music of Eastern Europe and the Caribbean.  Praised by the Los Angeles Times for his “dizzying execution” and “exceeding vitality and warmth,” Mr. Kanengiser has performed in recital and as guest soloist with orchestras in virtually every major American city, ranging from New York City’s Carnegie Hall to San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, as well as throughout Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Saturday night, March 29 the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet performs at Set B. Thefamous Quartet consists of John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant and Matthew Greif. They are known for using nylon guitars to imitate a variety of instruments and effects.

They have played in many styles; Baroque, Bluegrass, Flamenco, Rock, and New Age are among their repertoire. The quartet received a Grammy Award in 2005 for the "Best Classical Crossover" CD, Guitar Heroes. Recent projects include their latest CD, Spin, a tour of new arrangements by the quartet as well as other modern composers.   

Not only are there world-class concerts, there will be master classes held by highly skilled professors and performers.  These classes amount to public lessons from experienced concert artists who give pointers about the craft of music to individual students in front of an audience.  This type of experience is both concert and instruction for the performer—a little nerve-racking for the student, to say the least.  Auditors (people who sit in the audience for the class) are invited no matter what level of guitar expertise and may at no charge.  Locations for each class will be on the UTB/TSC campus Student Union Building and Eidman Music Building (see schedule below for exact times).

The heart of the events will be the ensemble competition held Thursday, Friday and Saturday during which ensembles will show off their best repertoire before this panel of distinguished judges who will rate their performances.  The competing groups range in experience from elementary school students to conservatory-trained musicians and will be judged according to their performance categories.  These performances are free and the public is invited to attend in the SET-B Lecture Hall.