International classical guitar competitions
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states the Wikipedia editor's particular feelings about a topic, rather than the opinions of experts. (August 2010)|
Although competitions are not the only way to establish oneself as a talented musician, they can serve various beneficial purposes. Namely, they allow young artists to promote themselves and gain exposure. Furthermore, they increase public awareness of the arts and the Classical Guitar itself. Some competitions also have newly composed "set" pieces which serve to increase the repertoire of the instrument.
Thoughts on competitions
- Denis Azabagić has written: "Competitions give you a very valuable experience. Do they guide in your artistic development? I do not know if it benefits the guitarist in that area, but I think it does benefit the student because it helps him to set goals under pressure (having a deadline). This creates a great deal of stress, which you will have to learn how to deal with. To perform live in front of a jury is something that requires some training. Finally, if you are successful at winning competitions, this will help you to promote your name in the guitar circle, you will start to be noticed. I think winning competitions helps you build a name but does not help much to develop your artistry."
- In this interview recorded in early 2002, Azabagic stresses that while competitions were very good to him, competitions can be also be devastating to worthy musicians who never seem to win.
Modern criticism of guitar competitions is actually quite common. Some criticisms are that they are often judged by unqualified judges, that reward people for being technically proficient without regard to musicality. But concerning the judging of musicality, this is in itself controversial, as the question arises, on how to judge art on any objective level.
- John Williams has said: "[...] basically I don't like or approve of competitions on any instrument. I don't think music can be evaluated like a race - I know that's an obvious thing to say and that there are many ifs and buts involved, because they do help some artists and concentrate the public's attention on music. But I particularly don't like the way many guitar competitions are run, the confusing way points are awarded differently in each round of a competition, and especially the over-exploitation of the "Big Winner" and the competitive values that puts on players and the activity of guitar playing itself. Winning is a matter of taste in most cases, and there are often many other equally deserving competitors other than just the First Prize recipient. I feel it would be fairer to have a select group of finalists, each of whom receives the same award and status.
I have served on juries in the past, but these days I refuse to take part, and I feel it is important to take that stand otherwise your reservations have no meaning. Having said all that, I know it happens anyway and sometimes there is sponsorship involved which does help the general public interest and support. But it still doesn't need to be a cut and dried thing, where each finalist is ranked as precisely as 1,2,3. I think it is those competitive values that are wrong, not the celebration of excellence in music as such. I have talked about the idea of setting up a competition where this other approach is used, but nothing definite has emerged from it yet; it may take some time to develop."
Analysis of data at a piano competition, with many high level participants, has made it doubtful that judges are able to make fully objective judgements; because there was a small correlation between the order of appearance of participants and their ranking:
- We find that the order and timing of appearance at the competition are good predictors of the final ranking. [...] Because of this, order and timing are unique instrumental variables for the final ranking, which we consistently find to have a significant impact on later success, irrespective of the finalists’ true quality. Pianists with high scores are more likely to see their work recorded later on. It is also worth pointing out that the opinion of music critics is more influenced by the ranking than by the quality of the performers. This is not necessarily surprising, since there are many musicians who may have been good during the competition, but have vanished afterwards, leaving the critics recollections unaffected.
The conclusion that it pays to do well in the competition is strongly supported by the data. However, the fact that judges’ rankings are affected by order and timing of appearance in a competition needs to be stressed, and sheds some doubt on their ability to cast fully objective judgments.
On the other hand, if a competition has many professional-level artistic participants, it may not even be possible to make an objective judgement of who is "best"; because: given numerous professional-level artistic performers, there may not even be room for the concept of comparison; since this presumes the existence of a "best" interpretation, which is itself questionable (and would be a commercialization of art; viewing it from a mass-consumption or absolutist point of view).
- Timothy Kain has said: "The competition perhaps symbolizes more than any other aspect of music, the commercially, the competitive nature of music making today. I don't think that they are a good sign. I think that they exist and are proliferating is symptomatic of something wrong, rather like the CO2 levels in the atmosphere and these other insidious things which seem to whittle away our world. Somehow these are symptomatic of something similar happening in the music world, a type of musical pollution for want of a better world."
List of international competitions for classical guitar
Most classical guitar competitions take place during guitar festivals, and therefore the competition event can be attended by the general public, as audience.
- US and Americas
|Competition Name||Town||Country||Last year active|
|Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition (ICAC)||New every year||USA||2014|
|JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition||Buffalo, New York||USA||2014|
|Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival||Wisconsin||USA||2014|
|Competition Name||Town||Country||Last year active|
|Calcutta International Classical Guitar Festival & Competition||Kolkata||India||2014|
|Tokyo International Guitar Competition||Tokyo||Japan||2014|
- On Competitions - Dealing with Performance Stress by Denis Azabagic
- Interview with Cavatina Duo
- "Music Competitions/Interviews: Azabagic, Evans/Madriguera, Kanengiser, Tennant, Vieaux"; Classical guitar alive; October 16, 2007
- Competitions are not meant for music
- John Williams Interview with Austin Prichard-Levy
- Expert Opinion and Compensation: Evidence from a Musical Competition by Victor A. Ginsburgh and Jan C. van Ours (2002)
- Timothy Kain - An Interview; Australian Guitar Journal
- busy with Masters or PhD studies
- Harold Gretton (1); Guitar News, January 2007 (Newsletter of the Classical Guitar Society Sydney)
- Harold Gretton (2); Guitar News, December 2007 (Newsletter of the Classical Guitar Society Sydney)
- Bradley Kunda; Guitar News, December 2008 (Newsletter of the Classical Guitar Society Sydney)
- Music Competitions - Who Wins? by Linda Anne Engelhardt
- Changes in Piano Competitions Alter How Juries Use Their Many "Texts" by Sean Bennett (2002)
- The Dark Side of Piano Competitions (August 7, 2009)
- Playing Up A Storm: The Great Debate (Sydney Morning Herald; Friday July 7, 2000)
- Winning beginnings (January 10, 2002)
- Yugoslav Pianist: the Man "Who Killed Chopin" (alluding to those jurors, who could not accept a stunning emotional Chopin-interpretation; simply because it was different from the playing they were used to) (originally published in 11.11.1980)
- Can a Pianist Sway a Competition Jury? (May 25, 1989)
- In Competitions, the Fun Is Being Called for Jury Duty (December 18, 1988)
- Piano Juror by Leslie Gerber
- The murky music prize by Jessica Duchen (The Independent; 21 April 2009)
- Behind the scenes at piano competitions by Michael Johnson (27.08.2009)
- 'Trill' goes behind scenes in music world by Edward Reichel (Aug. 22, 2009)
- Brain, heart and fingers Music: Judging a piano competition requires comparing performances that are often very different, and all good (July 28, 1998)