Twente Guitar Festival 2011

A warm Ascension Day...

Some time ago it was a tradition that the weather on Ascension Day was poor. Drifting clouds and lashing rain would obscure the heavens, as if to indicate that for mortals, ascension was out of the question after the first time that gave this day its name. The tradition of the early morning spring walk would be a more than damp challenge.

But now we are in the twenty first century, an era in which many traditions - including the ones concerning the weather – seem to become obsolete. For example, this year: The spring has had the driest weather in many years and the weather prophets do not expect any rain for the Ascension Day, let alone the traditional showers.

All signs indicated that the Twente Guitar Festival would be a happening with almost Mediterranean weather. Consequentially the drive from Hengelo to the Van Essengaarde in Enschede was a pleasant sightseeing trip with a lot of scenic beauty in the sun.

According to tradition, my Love delivered me in Enschede with guitar and gear. On this Ascension Day, as well…

Why on a day that is considered a Sunday? Well, as a consequence of the economic head wind, the parking fee greed in the town of Enschede has severely increased. Currently you have to pay parking fees on Sundays too, while that used to be free. One of the participants of the festival did not know, so she got fined with 54 Euros already on the first day. That’s an amount of money that is better spent for CDs and guitar gadgets!

So better leave your car at home. That’s why I was driven through sleepy Enschede.

The alley of the conservatory was dead quiet. The bronze violin player with his hat still stood on his pedestal near the entrance, a modest welcome to the temple of music.

We were there again… Twente Guitar Festival 2011.

The Organisation.

A four-day event like the Twente Guitar Festival does not come out of the blue. Besides the things that participants and audience experience, there is a world hidden behind the scene.

The Twente Guitar Festival started in 2006 as an initiative by four guitarists from the ‘scene’ of the Twente Conservatory (currently known as Artez Conservatory). They set up a foundation for the organization of this festival.

This initiative and the guitar festival that resulted was a real breath of fresh air for the guitar in this district, because the last guitar event – the Segovia Guitar Festival – was there in the beginning of the nineties. Since then it has been awfully quiet for the classical guitar around the Oude Markt, Enschede’s entertainment district.

The festival started on a small scale, everything fit in the Concordia Theatre at the marketplace in Enschede. In five editions, it flourished to become the major event that it is now. Concordia became the place for the concerts and the finals of the competition, the Artez Conservatory became the scene of the master classes, workshops and promotion events for guitars and related articles.

This year we have the sixth edition of this festival.

I just mentioned the world behind the scene. Important players in that theatre are the board members of the Twente Guitar Festival Foundation. Some of them are there from the beginning, others joined in late as a new generation of board members. The line-up of this year is Niels Ottink, Paul Driessen, Jaap Majoor, Reinout Kok and Gerard Kroeze

A part of the festival is based on a well proven existing formula. Workshops and master classes that can be attended by both guitar professionals and amateurs, the guitar competitions in three categories and a fine programme of lunch- and evening concerts.

The main novelty of this year was the Festival Ensemble, conducted by Lars Wȕller. This German composer was tasked with the challenge to amalgate the individual participants into an ensemble that was ready to perform live on stage in Concordia.  

Another novelty was the open air happening in cooperation with Enschede Promotion, the Festival shared a nice bandstand on the Oude Markt.

Every year the experience of the executive committee accumulates. It merely looks a small detail, but I found the “Where to Go for...” pillar in the Artez canteen with the times and room numbers for all master classes a very practical idea. Other examples are the banner on the façade of Concordia and the large board outside with the full programme in larger font than the small flyer.

This year some calamities tested the capabilities of the committee as well. There was a fall from the stairs of the stage in Concordia and the final concert was cancelled just one day before! The board members responded excellently. After the fall, assistance was called in promptly (fortunately the injuries were not serious) and the committee found a more than worthy replacement for the final concert.

Good job, guys!!

Again, this year the committee was backed up by a host of volunteers for all kinds of jobs. Without their support an event like this cannot be managed well, so volunteers, thank you!

A festival committee and volunteers alone are not sufficient, you need something to keep the pot boiling. That is the funding of the festival. Despite this time of financial crisis and cultural budget cuts, fortunately a number of companies and luthiers have contributed as sponsors.

Leaves us to mention some people that were important for the festival in general.

For instance, the hostesses of Concordia, I have met one of them each festival from the beginning six years ago. They made us a warm welcome, took care for a cool concert hall and carefully guarded the entrances against early intruders so that the artists could play in sufficiently. Further I remember the photographer with his lenses and wisdom. Four days he recorded the colourful and intense moments on flash disk.

All of them, a nice crew that made it this year again!  Festival 2011!