Guitar Festival Nordhorn 2016


Thursday 21st of April, half past eight.

I was logging in into the human resources website of my company. Before nine I would receive a message if there still was a position for me in the new organisation, a combination of restructuring and structurally decrease of the number of FTEs. Apparently, they deemed it necessary to wait until the last day to provide some security with that message.

FTEs? O yeah, that’s a human resources abstraction. It means Full Time Equivalent. Fits perfectly in an Excel workbook. What it represents in reality? People, workers, labourers. If you decrease the FTE rate, you are letting off people.

A message on a website like this is a new way of announcement, by the way. I guess that it is a modernism to lose your job by email. As soon as I read the message, it looks like Mission Impossible, on acknowledgement the message self-destructs within ten seconds.

It appeared that I (still) had a job. At the same time, I felt relief and anger about the many months of insecurity in which we were told everything about structure and culture, but nothing about the main question: our position. My department had been cut down, people were spread up over the other departments and our offices were shutdown. That will be quite a search for my own identity as soon as the new organisation becomes effective by Monday. I had no clear view of it, and I did not look forward to the organisational jostle for flexi-seats.

In brief, my mood was not the best to look forward to the sixth Guitar Festival Nordhorn for the full hundred percent.

I packed my bag. Three collections of scores from the DOS Amigos Homepage Collection, two as a prize for the amateur competition, one as a present for editorial work for the GFN anniversary story. I picked up my music for the master class of that day (Valse by Coste and Veladas Intimas by Ferrer). Additionally, I stowed the concept of a fine piece of work, the book Feast on Six Strings, Five Years of Guitar Festival Nordhorn, 278 pages packed with interviews with artists and organisers and the full history of five festivals. I added bottles of water and some victuals and obviously, I did not forget my guitar!

The weather on that Thursday was a bright start of the festival. Anyone that knows the history of the festival a bit would notice a slight detail. Yes, the Thursday had become a festival day too. Another step towards a festival of one week. What name would it get in that case? Nordhorner Gitarrenwoche?

After all these years, I know the road to Nordhorn by heart. Hengelo – Oldenzaal – Denekamp – Noord Deurningen – Nordhorn. Slowly the uncomfortable tension ebbs away. Now we have four days to think about something else! Slowly I start looking forward to the reunion with old friends and maybe I will meet some more there!

A much better start than the gnawing job stress of the weeks before!


In five years, the Guitar Festival Nordhorn has grown into a proven concept with as highlights the performances of famous artists, the competition for students and professionals, the amateur competition and the workshops Stage Presentation and Guitar Sports. Most events take place in the Kulturhaus NIHZ at the Mittelstrasse 13 in Nordhorn, Germany. Food, drink and lodging are available, so there is a firm foundation for long pleasant nights amongst musical friends.

The concept is adapted and improved each year. In this way, the Lounge Concerts were added late in the evening and the extra competition Beste Gitarrist/Gitarristin von Nordhorn attracted young guitarists from the neighbourhood.

Novelties for this year are the Guitar Cinema, the Asturias Vodka Competition, the Composers Competition, extra prizes for the professional competition and an extended cooperation with concert halls in and around Nordhorn.

The Guitar Cinema features two shows: a set of animation movies with guitar accompaniment by Samuel Klemke and the documentary about the guitarist, composer and teacher Louis Ignatius Gall who passed away this year.

The Asturias Vodka Competition is a caricature of a competition. Participants have to play Asturias by Albeniz in a number of rounds and drink a glass of Vodka after each round. The player that performs the piece (relatively) smoothly for the most rounds is the winner.

The Composers Competition is –as the name suggests- a contest of compositions. A composer can submit the score of his/her composition that is assessed by a competent jury (amongst others by the composer Annette Kruisbrink). The first prize of the Composers Competition is a public performance and a CD recording of the composition. The Composers Competition was a pretty invisible event. ;-) Fortunately, I met Annette while she was judging a few compositions.

The advantage of the cooperation with concert podia in an around Nordhorn is, that the festival can accommodate more recitals than would have been possible in the Kulturhaus NIHZ alone. The partners were the Alte Kirche in Nordhorn, the Reformierte Kirche in Brandlecht, Hennekens Hof in Bentheim and Das Altes Rathaus in Neuenhaus. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit all concerts (I had journalistic obligations), yet I did visit the concert of The Guitar Company in Das Altes Rathaus in Neuenhaus.

Starting with the first festival in 2011, one of the prizes of the competition for students and professionals was a high-quality hand-built guitar. Luthiers that contributed to this prize were George Ziata (2x), Friederieke Lindscheid, Roberto Pozzi and Sergey Samoilov. Interviews with the winners showed that the guitar was a perfect and highly esteemded prize.

This year, the second prize winner of the competition would have a hand-built guitar as well. The Russian luthier Sergey Samoilov provided the first prize guitar, the Argentine luthier Esteban Gonzalez with his instrument considerably contributed to the second prize of the competition!

Just like the festivals before, the walls of the concert hall of Kulturhaus NIHZ were adorned with artistic and colourful paintings. The paintings of Blandine van Noordt represented the struggle between light and darkness and the melody of the infinite with clear colourful contrasts. At occasions at concerts her paintings and the music fused into a wondrous unity.