University of South Carolina

School of Music to host guitar festival May 13-16

The School of Music at the University of South Carolina will host the Rosario Guitar Festival and Competition May 13-16. The festival is a four-day event featuring the sounds of classical, Spanish and Latin guitar music.

Tickets for evening concerts are $15 for adults and $10 for students. A single ticket purchase on Sunday afternoon functions as a ticket to the USC alumni concert and the competition finals concert.

All concerts will take place in the USC School of Music recital hall. Free events include daily master classes by guest artists; musical workshops; guitar competitions, May 14 and May 15; and a guitar orchestra concert featuring youth participants at 1 p.m. May 16.

Held for the second time in Columbia, the festival sponsors brought the Ohio-based concert here to provide cultural enrichment to the community and share the beauty of the classical guitar with people already familiar with the genre and introduce it to others. Festival director Jonathan Gangi said, “I feel that the classical guitar and its music are too wonderful for the general public to not know about and enjoy it!’

This year’s festival features guitarists from around the world with international reputations as performers and teachers. The artists include Stephen Aron, Christopher Berg, Mir Ali, Marco Sartor, Jose Lezcano and Marina Alexandra.

This project is funded by the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, The South Carolina Arts Commission and The John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

Ticketed Events:

Thursday, May 13
7:30 p.m.
Guest artist concert
Marina Alexandra and Mir Ali

Friday, May 14
7:30 p.m.
Guest artist concert
Marco Sartor and Stephen Aron

Saturday, May 15
7:30 p.m.
Guest artist concert
Christopher Berg and José Lezcano

Sunday, May16
2 p.m.
University of South Carolina Alumni Concert
Solo performances by USC Guitar Program alumni

Sunday, May 16
3:30 p.m.
Competition finals

The festival is sponsored by the USC School of Music and the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties and is part of the May Carolina Alumni Weekend.

For more information, visit or contact Jonathan Gangi at 330-472-9939 or

Guest Artist Bios

Christopher Berg
Christopher Berg is a USC professor of music and direct the classical guitar program. In 2008 was named a Carolina Distinguished Professor, the university’s highest honor.

Berg received his training at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, in masterclasses with Andrés Segovia at the University of Southern California, and at the Schola Cantorum Basilensis in Switzerland. He has performed at Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Hall in New York in addition to hundreds of recital and concerto appearances throughout the United States including the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago. Recent tours have included recitals at the New England Guitar Festival in Boston, the Radford University International Guitar Festival in Virginia, the Appalachian Guitar Festival in Boone, N.C., and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Stephen Aron
Described by The New York Times as “cultivated and musical,” Stephen Aron has established himself at the center of the American classical guitar scene. His first solo CD, “Sketches,” features the first recordings of works by Ned Rorem and David Bernstein. He has adjudicated and produced numerous national and international competitions. He has given lectures, performed and taught master classes at six GFA Conventions, the Boston Conservatory Guitar Festivals, the Stetson International Guitar Festivals, the Yale University Guitar Extravaganza, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the East Carolina University Guitar Festival, the Alexandria Guitar Festival, the Rosario Guitar Festivals, the Eastern Tennessee Guitar Festival and more.

In addition to his post as professor of music and chairman of guitar studies at the University of Akron (since 1981), Aron is teacher of classical guitar and founder of the classical guitar studies program at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (since 1991).

José Lezcano
Described by the New Millennium Guitar magazine as “a superb guitarist as well as a first-rate composer and arranger,” José Lezcano has captivated audiences on four continents. This USC alumnus has programs featuring traditional and Latin American repertoire. His original compositions have taken him as recitalist, collaborative musician and concerto soloist from Carnegie Recital Hall and the North-South Consonance Series in New York City to major venues and festivals in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic and Germany.

Lezcano has won several awards, including first prize in the 1982 MTNA National Guitar Competition; the 1998 Fulbright Award in Ecuador to teach, perform, and research indigenous guitar traditions; 2002 Commissioned Composer of the Year (New Hampshire Music Teacher's Association); 2003 Keene State College’s Award for

Distinction in Research and Scholarship in recognition of his activities as performer, scholar, and composer; 2007 Commissioned Composer of the Year Fellowships from the New Hampshire Music Teacher's Association; a New Hampshire State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship; and more.

Mir Ali
Pakistani-born guitar virtuoso and composer Mir Ali has been described by Acoustic Guitar magazine as “an exceptional nylon string guitarist” and by National Public Radio as “mesmerizing and hypnotic.” Since winning his first guitar competition at 13, Ali has been raising eyebrows of audiences and music critics around the globe with unique, expressive and dazzling performances. He is a fluent performer of flamenco guitar, an experienced jazz stylist, a trained practitioner of North Indian classical music, an award-winning classical guitarist and a composer of music in several genres. Ali’s compositions are published with Mel Bay Publications as part of a graded repertoire series for guitarists. In 2003, he composed an original soundtrack for the documentary “Roots and Branches”—personal reflections on adoption, which was given the “Award of Excellence” by the Film Advisory Board in Hollywood.

In the past two seasons, Ali has toured Spain, Italy, Canada and has performed at New York’s Shea Stadium before a crowd of more than 5,000 people. Ali serves as president of the Buffalo Guitar Society and director of the Rantucci International Guitar Festival and Competition. He has served on the music faculties of the University of Akron in Ohio and currently directs the guitar program at the Amherst School of Guitar.

Marco Sartor
Marco Sartor is a top prize winner in numerous international competitions including first prizes in the Schadt String Competition, Texas Guitar Competition and the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition. He has performed extensively across the U.S. and appeared as a soloist with the Allentown Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Washington PA and Carnegie Mellon Chamber Orchestras. He has also performed and was featured in radio and television broadcasts throughout Spain, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to both critical and public acclaim.

Sartor received degrees from the College of Charleston and Carnegie Mellon University. He studied with Robert Ravera, Mario Paysee and Eduardo Fernandez in Uruguay and Marc Regnier and James Ferla in the U.S. Current projects include the recording of his debut CD for the Fleur de Son label and upcoming performances with the Buffalo Philharmonic and the SODRE Orchestra in Uruguay.

Marina Alexandra
A USC alumna, Marina Alexandra was awarded a scholarship in music and a graduate fellowship in guitar to continue her studies with Berg, who described her as “technically gifted and musically inspired.” She completed her Masters of Music in guitar performance in 2001. She also founded the Guitar Muse Concert Series in Columbia and released her first CD, “Timeless Enchantment,” which includes the music of different time periods (from Baroque to modern).

Alexandra is an active performer and promoter of classical guitar. Her performances have been featured in venues such as Piccolo Spoleto, the S.C. State Museum, Wingate University, USC Aiken, Art Festival of North Charleston, Columbia College, Wofford College, Allentown radio and Brookgreen Gardens concert series. She has led guitar programs in the Community Music Program at the USC School of Music, Wingate University in North Carolina and USC Aiken.

Rosario Guitar Festival

  • What: Four-day event featuring the sounds of classical, Spanish and Latin guitar music
  • When: May 13-16
  • Where: School of Music recital hall

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 05/05/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 05/14/10 @ 10:54 AM | Permalink