The Iserlohn Festival 2000

Published by Legacy of Matanya Ophee on

by Michael Scott, Halifax, Nova Scotia

This summer marked the 9th annual Guitar Symposium Iserlohn\Germany. Sponsored by the D’Addario Foundation for the performing arts and organized by Thomas Kirchhoff ( who is also one half of the Amadeus Guitar Duo) This incredible musical event prompted guitarists from around the world to converge on the tiny town of Iserlohn, Germany ( located approx. 100km east of Cologne). The course actually takes place at the Evangenlische Akademie of Iserlohn, which sits on a beautiful estate. The festival itself was comprised of 22 world-class teachers instructing 145 active participants from 28 different countries (including Japan, Korea, Singapore, USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and all over Europe) .

The remarkably low tuition (EUR 354,-) entitled students to 4 lessons, 13 concerts, various group classes (scales class, finger aerobics) very comfortable rooms and full meals. Aside from that, we were all encouraged to make use of the fact that several guitar builders, retailers etc. were on site to show off their work. Students also had the option of sitting in on as many lessons as they liked. This was particularly educational given the caliber of the staff; David Russell, Oscar Ghiglia, the Assad duo, Eli Kassner, David Tanenbaum, Roland Dyens, Gerald Garcia, Dale Kavanagh, Thomas Müller-Pering and Hubert Käppel were just a few of the favorites.

Every evening we were treated to at least one world-class performance. Keeping in line with tradition, a hand full of these performances were the scene of practical jokes devised by organizer Thomas Kirchhoff and British guitarist Gerald Garcia. This year the audience showed their appreciation for Hubert Käppel’s choice in an encore by pummeling him with ping-pong balls referring to his favorite encore “Pongue” by Stephen Funk Pearson . Kirchhoff’s crowning achievement though was his incitement of two local police officers to arrest the Eden-Stell duo on smuggling charges. Rest assured however, no guitarists were seriously injured during the making of this festival.

After the evening concert, new comers to the festival were treated to one of the most refreshing aspects of the Iserlohn Symposium. Every night of the festival, Iserlohn is the site of an incredible party, and at those parties, there is no noticeable distinction between students and teachers. Whether sharing a pint with Oscar Ghiglia, or watching David Russell shoot coins from his naval, (I have pictures) students had a very rare opportunity to get a better understanding for the performers\composers\teachers that have shaped all of our musical lives.

The Canadian contingent was surprisingly strong at this course, though I make jokes about the fact that I have to go to Europe to study with Canadians, there is a real sense of pride knowing that Canadians are being represented in a foreign country by the likes of Dale Kavanagh, Eli and Ann Kassner and Dr. Steven Thachuk. The Iserlohn Symposium is simply one of the best guitar events in the world. The quality of teachers and performers matched with economy of tuition, makes it a summer course few students can afford to miss.

The teaching line up next year promises to be as impressive as ever with the addition of Alvaro Pierri, Eliot Fisk, Paul O’Dette, Marco Socias, Wang Yameng, The Amsterdam Guitar Trio, Duo Gaquere SungHo, Eden-stell-Duo, Gerald Garcia, The Amadeus Guitar Duo and many others. 140 active students will be able to participate, making it one of the biggest guitar events in Europe. I am also told that in addition to the usual exhibitions, Detlev Bork will be on hand with more than 4700 recordings of guitar music.

The deadline for application is July 20, 2001 but this year was booked by March, so early application is advised! Brochure at:

Amadeus Guitar Duo
Oestricher Strasse 39b
D-58638 Iserlohn-Germany
Online booking:

Copyright © 2000 by Michael Scott All Rights Reserved.


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