Twente Guitar Festival 2009

2009 is the year of the fourth edition of the Twente Guitar Festival in Enschede, a town in the eastern part of The Netherlands. Again, this year, the organisers were motivated by the success of the last year festival and not in the last place by their passion for the guitar and a great guitar event.

As usual, the Twente Guitar Festival took place in the week of Ascension Day. Due to the late Easter this year, the festival would be at the end of May. I particularly like this planning, because Ascension Day is a day off, and the Friday after Ascension Day is a compulsory holiday in my company. Which makes a nice long weekend!

Never change a winning team is a popular slogan. Consequently, the dedicated organisers of the Twente Guitar Festival Foundation (Bobby Rootveld, Jaap Majoor, Niels Ottink and Paul Driessen) and a large backing of family, friends and sympathisers were ready to make this event a great success.

The more often I experience an event like this, the more admiration I have for the work of the organizers. Take a few details which are hardly obvious for a visitor.

The lunch for the teachers and the assistants was excellent (I do know that because I caught a roll en passant, it was delicious). First Aid was there, at least one of the volunteers was a certified professional first-aider. The hotel accommodation for the participants from afar was well organized. The helpdesk was continuously staffed, providing everyone with a walking festival oracle. Additionally, there was the opportunity to buy tickets for the concerts, CDs, DVDs and merchandise, nice for a souvenir!

They seem to be just small things, but without food you cannot play and teach, in case of an emergency it is of vital importance that you have someone to deal with it, and a place to sleep is quite comfortable if you want to start the competition fit as a fiddle. Ad finally, if you are lost in the Concordia Theatre, it is good to know that someone can help you out.

In brief, the organisation is first-rate, guys! In these four years the people behind the Twente Guitar Festival perform like a well-run engine, where everybody has great flexibility. Despite the organisation-stress and the late hours (which you can deduct from the time stamps of their e-mailings). Chapeau!

I had subscribed for a Masterclass with Pavel Steidl and accepted the offer for the Improvisation workshop. This year the Let’s improvise package included an additional workshop for Flamenco and Fingerstyle guitar, a nice opportunity to get a taste of these disciplines.

After three editions of the festival, my report of the musical and social aspects of this event has become a tradition by now. ;-) Watching the back side of the Festival programme, I consider the chance fairly high that I can write a Quinquennium edition of these reports.

A bit of a disclaimer to start with. The impressions that I describe here are subjective. I just admit that. So please do not be angry or piqued if I write down complete nonsense in your opinion: My impression is just one of many.

Organisation of the Festival

Considering the organisation of the festival, it was a continuation of last year’s concept: three days Masterclasses and workshops in the Artez Conservatory, part of the competitions and the concerts in the Concordia Theatre. It’s a formula which has proved to be working.

Generally speaking the masterclasses and workshops were scheduled in the morning and afternoon, with some free time in between for the lunchconcerts. This year there were no parallel activities during the Scharpach Competition Category 1 (students and professionals), so there was ample opportunity to attend the first rounds.

Unfortunately, this appeared not possible for the amateur sections of the competition, so I missed them because of the workshop schedule.

The special details this year:

  • A Seminar was organised with a number of luthiers as a guest. The subject concerned modernities and traditions in guitar building. Amongst others Theo Scharpach and Bert Kwakkel showed up with their guitars, so there was a possibility to try them.
  • Annette Kruisbrink, one of the Dutch composers for guitar, had a stand with her work.
  • (Again, very practical!) also this year there was a locked ‘guitar garage’ on the higher floor of the Concordia Theatre. Considering the value of the guitars of some of the players (both financially and emotionally) it was a relief that they could be stored on a safe place, even though I have not heard of theft and damaged guitars during the last three festivals.
  • The mailings (city map, masterclass and workshop schedule, location data and the list of contestants for the Scharpach Concours) were of good quality. The timely update service of the schedules was a good thing. Maybe for next year it is an option to use schedules per day wit a larger font. The Excel sheet was scaled down too much, which made the schedule hard to follow.

The only problem I experienced myself -and that’s my own fault- was the crowded programme: I you purchase both the Classical Professional package and the Let’s Improvise package, you’ll have to watch the clock! As a consequence, I could not attend all events, or just get a touch of it. So next year I will restrict me to a Classical package.