University of Rhode Island’s Annual Guitar Festival Goes Virtual

Adam Levin will virtually promote and produce the annual URI Guitar Festival for three days from Sept. 25-27.

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There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has put a damper on the arts. As events are continuously canceled and theaters and many museums remain shuttered, we’ve had to find alternative ways to get a dose of creativity in art and music.

“We’ve been so disengaged with regard to culture,” says Adam Levin, University of Rhode Island faculty member and artistic director of the URI Guitar Festival. “There has been a void in all of our lives that we haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy all the cultural luxuries we typically have.”

This lack of entertainment and cultural experience is why Levin is excited to be able to virtually produce the annual URI Guitar Festival for three days from Sept. 25-27.

Traditionally, the guitar festival was a way for musicians and performing artists, teachers and students to come together to exchange perspectives on music and “become familiar with the unfamiliar,” according to Levin. However, due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, coming together is going to look a little different for the festival this year.

“It became apparent that an in-person festival was not going to be possible, and that rather than sink and give into the effects of the virus, we divided to swim and build and continue creating amidst this,” Levin says. “So, we will share music across the virtual highways in a completely online guitar music festival.”

Each day of the festival will include a number of performances, meet and greets with artists and masterclasses and lectures from teachers. Throughout these days, artists will teach and perform diverse pieces from places such as Brazil, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.

“Each year, we’ve been able to keep the programming very eclectic and diverse,” Levin says. “Even though the classic guitar is what most of these artists are playing, it does not depict the diversity in the music they are playing. This festival is truly a global phenomenon that brings everyone together into sort of a small music ecosystem in Rhode Island.”

With this, Levin says the individuality throughout the performers is endless, and even some of the guitars may be a little different than the audience will expect.

“We have an American blues guitar virtuoso, we also have an Irish guitarist who is playing an eight-string guitar. And then we also have a guitar sort of imitating the African harp which is 21 strings,” Levin says. “So we are branching off to the nearest and dearest relatives of the classic guitar.”

Levin said the guitar festival classes are meant to accommodate whatever comfort level participants may have. It is a “stress-free environment,” students are encouraged to either participate or watch. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to compete in the rising star virtual competition. Students can perform virtually in either the high school or college and graduate school division.

All concerts are free and donations are encouraged, RSVP here! Masterclasses and private lessons can also be purchased online.


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