OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Birds chirped, squirrels chattered and a tropical thunderstorm blew through an otherwise very alpine — and packed — Squaw Valley Chapel on a fine July evening, thanks to the exceptional creativity of Celso Machado, the virtuoso Brazilian guitarist, percussionist and composer whose “gift for making music out of anything and everything around him,” including his own hands, mouth, body and a wide array of musical instruments from all over the world, “is his mission in life,” as his bio reads.
Followed by the performance of his “Folguedo” in two movements for guitar ensemble and greeted by standing ovation, Machado’s concert, drawing on the richness and diversity of Brazilian and world music, wrapped up the Sixth International Sierra Nevada Classical Guitar Festival and Competition, a four-day full immersion into all things guitar with Squaw Valley offering a stunning backdrop.
Showcasing a roster of high-caliber artists including Rene Izquierdo, Marc Teicholz, Connie Sheu, Anthony Kakamakov, Mesut Ozgen, T. Singh, Jon Mendle and Giacomo Fiore, the Festival emphasized classical elements while at the same time exploring innovative directions for the instrument and its music, ranging from Mr. Singh’s Kachaapi Veena, an Indian classical guitar of his design, to Mr. Fiore’s just-intonation guitar and Miss Sheu’s exquisite recital focusing on music by women composers.
All the while, adult and young guitar competitors alike sharpened their axes and performed challenging pieces for the judges. Matthew Fish, John Briton, Max Zuckerman and Jesse Freedman, first, second, third and fourth prize respectively in the Adult Division, and Sean Keegan, Karey Wang and Sedona Farber in the Youth Division are this year’s competition winners.
For more information www.sierraguitar.org.