Last month’s Lone Star Guitar Festival at Weatherford College far exceeded the expectations of event organizer Will Douglas.
Douglas, an adjunct guitar instructor for WC, developed the festival after seeing the success of a similar format for classical guitarists in Ontario, Canada.
The final day of the festival included a concert by the four finalists on the guitar competition side of the festival: Austin Wahl of the United States, Jesus Serrano of Mexico, Janet Grohovac of Canada and Joseph Palmer of the United States.
“The level at this competition was astounding,” Douglas said. “I did not expect the level of competitor to be this high in our first year. These are professional competitors who travel and do this for a living, so our audience got a real show.”
Joseph Palmer, a candidate for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Texas, took the top prize which included $1,000 and a solo concert at the 2015-16 Guitar Fort Worth Masters Series at Texas Wesleyan University.
Palmer is already known as a community leader in the Austin area, and Douglas said he is a great diplomat for the Lone Star Guitar Festival as it continues in future years.
The festival began on a Thursday evening with a concert by highly acclaimed musician Grisha Goryachev of Russia.
“It was mind blowing and met with several standing ovations,” Douglas said. “Goryachev brings a level of ability that is exceeded by no one in guitar today and the Weatherford community responded with great enthusiasm.”
Douglas praised all the guitarists on the concert lineup, especially Isaac Bustos who played in the Alkek Fine Arts Center a day after returning from Spain.
“Isaac took the stage with poise and confidence that is uncommon even in players as well-known as he,” Douglas said. “There are few players who show the kind of balance in their sound between power and grace that Isaac does. His audience is just drawn to his playing. Whatever is going on in their day-to-day life just sort of melts away, and all that is left is the incredible music that can only come from a player like Isaac Bustos.”
The festival also included days full of master classes and workshops for guitar enthusiasts to better hone their craft.
Douglas is already looking forward to next year’s event.
“My hope for this festival is growth,” he said. “Many of our artists run festivals of their own, and the comment I most received was that this was the most well-organized and well attended first year of a festival they had ever seen. We outpaced every festival in this part of the country, and we are only in our infancy. We should expect our numbers to double which means our participants will continue to have access to the best guitarists in the world, and Weatherford College will become a hub for the guitar long into the future.”