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Classical guitarist Hart Wells works with students. (Photo by Cliff Hollis) 


ECU International Summer Guitar Festival’s 22nd year features worldwide cast

July 10, 2017

By Harley Dartt
University Communications

Classical guitar performers, instructors and students from around the world will converge in the A. J. Fletcher Music Center at East Carolina University in Greenville for the ECU International Summer Guitar Festival starting July 15 through 18.

Directed by ECU guitar professor Elliot Frank, the festival includes the public International Concert Series featuring elite performers from the United States and abroad, this year including guitarists from Italy, Switzerland, Canada and Cuba.

This year marks the festival’s 22nd year celebrating the classical guitar.

Headlining artists SoloDuo—Matteo Mela and Lorenzo Micheli—hail from Switzerland and Italy, have performed throughout Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America, and have been acclaimed as one of classical guitar’s finest ensembles. The Washington Post wrote of their performance, "…the duo's playing was nothing less than rapturous—profound and unforgettable musicianship of the highest order."

Also performing in this year’s concert series is international-award winner and Cuba native Rene Izquierdo, about whom Classical Guitar Magazine said, "His natural and instinctive interpretations are second to none: his virtuoso technique allows him absolute command of the instrument giving him the independence of subtle phrasing, dazzling speed, beautiful tonal control... everything."  

“This is an incredible line-up of musicians performing at East Carolina University,” Frank said. “Matteo Mela, Lorenzo Micheli and Rene Izquierdo are three of the very best guitarists—technically and musically—in the world, and together Matteo and Lorenzo are simply the finest duo alive. Not only are they artists of the highest caliber, they are master teachers as well.”

Other featured concert artists this year include Matt Gillen, the Kossler Duo, Francois Fowler, Stephen Mattingly, Andrew Zohn and Frank. In additional to the International Concert Series, the finals of this year’s solo competition are open to the public and feature the next generation of young classical guitar talent. Students compete for cash awards and a concert at next year’s festival.

According to Frank the only requirement for students is a desire to learn or learn more about classical guitar.

“The festival is four days of teaching, performance and interaction among guitarists from all over, and of all ages and skill levels,” he said. “We have students who have attended the festival for more than a decade, and who come from as far away as Taiwan.

“Beginner to advanced, young or old, if they want to learn classical guitar we will find them instruction.”

Nolan Harvel is a Nashville, Tennessee, resident and former youth student. His mother Elaine Harvel said the festival experience was inspirational for them both.

“Coming here and having so much knowledge given to us in less than five days, it just opened my eyes to so many things,” she said. “We need to be doing this, we need to be doing that…it was just incredible.”

Long-time festival adult student and Florida resident Mike Salmon concurred about the environment and the level of instruction. “It can take a full year to assimilate the information you get in a single lesson,” Salmon said.

Frank said the festival obviously attracts excellent performers for concerts, but he intentionally chooses faculty based on their teaching styles as well as their performance talent.

“I go out of my way to chose teachers and instructors that are not intimidating,” he said. “They can deliver their criticism in a way that is not crushing. They can show students ‘you are here, but you really can get there and get better.’

“But of course, the students—and the public— also get to hear performances of some of the best guitar playing on earth.”

The festival’s workshop and camp are open to students ages eight-and-up who wish to acquire or improve skills on the classical guitar. Students under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.

Concerts are ticketed and open to the public.

For more information regarding the festival, workshop or concert series, contact Dr. Elliot Frank at 252-328-6245 or, or visit


2017 ECU International Summer Guitar Festival Concerts 

Jacob Brown practices his guitar

ECU guitar festival student Jacob Brown practices his guitar.

July 15, 4 p.m.
Afternoon Concert I: Matt Gillen

July 15, 7:30 p.m.
Evening Concert: Elliot Frank/Rene Izquierdo

July 16, 4 p.m.
Afternoon Concert II: Kossler Duo

July 16, 7:30 p.m.
Evening Concert: Francois Fowler/SoloDuo

July 17, 4 p.m.
Solo Competition Semifinals

July 17, 7:30 p.m.

Evening Concert: Stephen Mattingly/Andrew Zohn

July 18, 4 p.m.
Solo Competition Finals

Individual event ticket prices: 
Afternoon concerts $10 adults, $5 students
Evening concerts $20 adults, $15 students

Pass for all concerts: 
$50.00, adults, $30.00 students

All concerts are in the Recital Hall, Fletcher Music Center, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.

Tickets: 1-800-ECU-ARTS; 252-328-4788, 252-328-4736 V/TTY;, or at the door.


ECU Summer International Guitar Festival participants SoloDuo perform Scarlatti.
They perform at the festival July 16.