Masterclasses will be held on Zoom. There will be a fee of $20 to play in a masterclass. If you would like to participate in or audit a masterclass, please email the society.

Johan Smith, winner of GFA 2019

Sunday, November 1, 2020, 1 to 4 p.m.
This event is offered exclusively to members of the OGS.

Winner of the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) competition in 2019 and defined as the “Classical Guitar Revelation 2017” by the french magazine “Guitar Classical Magazine”, Johan Smith has been invited to perform in renowned festivals, as concert and soloist, with orchestras such as the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the Verbier Festival Orchestra. He is currently preparing the recording of his second album (Naxos, 2020), as well as a tour that will bring him to perform in the United States, Canada, Mexico and in the Carnegie Hall in New York.

His particular interest in contemporary music has led him to collaborate with several composers, including Josquin Schwizgebel and Arnaud Fillion who dedicated him his “Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra”. In addition to the Guitar Foundation of America, Johan Smith won prizes in the following competitions: 1st prize at the VI° International Guitar Competition of Thessaloniki, 1st prize at the International Competition of Fontenay-Sous-Bois, 1st prize at V° International Festival Guitare au Beffroi, 1st prize at the 89° Leopold Bellan International Competition, 1st prize at the XIII° National Competition of Ceyzeriat (also winning the public prize), 3rd prize at the III° Pleven International Guitar Competition, 3rd prize at I° Aalborg International Guitar Competition.

Born in 1990 in Geneva, Johan obtained a Bachelor in 2015 and a “Master of Arts in Instrumental Pedagogy” in 2017 at the University of Music of Lausanne, in the class of Dagoberto Linhares. In addition to his activity as a guitar teacher at the Conservatory of Morges, he also obtained in 2019 the most important academic title in the field of musical performance in Switzerland: the “Master of Arts specializing in Music Performance Soloist”, awarded by the highest grade. In a completely different approach, he is the founder, composer, performer and graphic designer in the extreme metal band “Stortregn”, with whom he has already recorded four albums and played in three continents since 2005.

Gohar Vardanyan

Sunday, November 22, 2020, 1 to 4 p.m.
This event is offered exclusively to members of the OGS.

Widely admired for her technique, artistry, and passionate performances, Armenian guitarist Gohar Vardanyan has performed throughout the United States and internationally. Her playing has been described as “passionate,” “evocative,” and “virtuosic.”

In addition to her performing career, Ms. Vardanyan is an avid teacher. She maintains a private studio in New York City and frequently teaches master classes and guitar technique workshops during her concert travels.  Ms. Vardanyan is an author of four books from Mel Bay Publication and has an extensive list of instructional guitar videos on both her own and the Strings by Mail channels on YouTube. 

Ms. Vardanyan began studying the guitar in her native Armenia at the age of five under the careful guidance of her father, Vardan Vardanyan. At the age of eight, she gave her first public performance and also appeared on Armenian National Television. She went on to study with Antigoni Goni at the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School, and with John Wunsch at the Interlochen Arts Academy.

Ms. Vardanyan holds a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School where she studied with Sharon Isbin and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she studied with Manuel Barrueco. She is also an alumna of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Gohar Vardanyan is sponsored by Strings by Mail and plays on Royal Classics Recital strings. 

Guitar: 2012 Jean Rompré

Silas Chinsen

Sunday, January 10, 2021, 1 to 4 p.m.
This event is open to the public.
All fees will go directly to the artist.

Silas Chinsen is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, and choir director based in Guelph, ON. He completed a Masters and Bachelors of Music at the University of Ottawa, graduating summa cum laude. He studied guitar with Patrick Roux and voice with Dillon Parmer, and was twice the recipient of the Ed Honeywell scholarship for classical guitar. He also performed the role of Dr. Bartolo in uOttawa’s 2018 production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

Silas recently won the 2019 Ottawa Guitar Society’s composition competition with his piece “Different Expectations,” performing the premiere at the 2020 Guitar Alla Grande Festival.
Silas has received master classes from international guitarists such as Pepe Romero, Judicael Perroy, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mela, Sergio Assad, Jorge Caballero, Pavel Steidl, Marcin Dylla, and Marko Feri. He has won various local and provincial music festivals, and has performed at venues such as the the National Arts Center, the Shaw Centre, and the Rideau Club.

Bruno Gauthier-Bellerose

Sunday, March 7, 2021, 1 to 4 p.m.
This event is open to the public.
All fees will go directly to the artist.

Laureate of the prestigious competition Prix d’Europe in 2019, Bruno Gauthier- Bellerose completed his master’s degree with highest distinction under the tutelage of Jean Vallières at the Conservatory of Music of Montreal in 2019. He is now pursuing a performance diploma at the Conservatory with Jérôme Ducharme. In Montreal, he also studied with Garry Antonio and Alvaro Pierri and participated in masterclasses with guitarists such as David Russell, Manuel Barrueco, Pepe Romero and Ana Vidovic.

Alongside his guitar studies, he took composition lessons with Nicolas Gilbert at the Conservatory. His compositions have been played in Quebec, Portugal and Belgium.

Bruno is also a laureate of the Indiana International Guitar Competition 2019 and received 2nd place at the Domaine Forget International Guitar Competition in 2017. He sets himself apart as a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec’s medal. Bruno has now been a member of the guitar orchestra Forestare for a year. His playing is distinguished by its strong musical and artistic depth.

Rene Izquierdo

Sunday, March 14, 2021, 1 to 4 p.m.
This event is offered exclusively to members of the OGS.

Rene Izquierdo, a native from Cuba, graduated from the Guillermo TomasAmadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Art in Havana. In the United States, Mr. Izquierdo earned a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma degrees from the Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. While at Yale he represented the university in an exchange program with the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse du Paris and worked with guitarists Olivier Chassain and Roland Dyens. Rene has appeared as a guest soloist and in chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Cuba and Europe. He has shared the stage with prestigious guitarists including Eliot Fist, Benjamin Verdery and Jorge Morel, as well as renowned flutist Ransom Wilson, soprano Lucy Shelton, David Jolley and Paquito d’Rivera. Renowned composers such as Jorge Morel and Carlos R. Rivera have dedicated works to him. Mr. Izquierdo is a recipient of numerous awards. He is a winner of JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition in 2004, Extremadura International Guitar CompetitionSchadt String competitionStotsenberg International Guitar Competition among others.

He is currently a professor of classical guitar at the Wisconsin State University in Milwaukee and an active solo performer and chamber musician. Rene has studied with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Eli Kastner, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, David Starobin, Eduardo Fernandez, Jorge Morel, Robert Beaser and Anthony Newman among others.

 “ … unforgettable versatility, sensitivity and sublime musicianship.” – Classical Guitar Magazine, July, 07.

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