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Concert at the Czech Residence

H.E. Jana Reinišova Ambassador for the Czech Republic.

The Štěpán Rak Guitar Competition for young guitar players

Once again H.E.Jana Reinišova Ambassador for the Czech Republic made her residence in The Hague available for a series of concerts on May 10 and 11 2017, Both concerts were under the acumen direction of Štěpán Rak along with Dr. Mariel Peñaloza Moreno.

For additional Kim Vermaat’s pictures, please open the following link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/121611753@N07/albums/72157684444458780

Štěpán Rak

The concert on 10th May was a Certificate Awarding Gala Concert for participants of the Štěpán Rak Guitar Competition for Young Guitar Players (from 10 up to 18 years old), it consisted of an open competition concert.

There were 3 levels: one for beginners (Category A), one for intermediate students (Category B) and another one for more advanced students (category C). The actual competition itself took place on Monday 8th May at the Malcolm Davies Auditorium at the International School of The Hague.

The objective of the concert was to build a bridge between the international community and the local through guitar music. Interfacing Culture is the motto.

The didactic projects for guitar wish to promote creativity, composition skills, and performance skills on a very polifacetic instrument such as the guitar.

The Štěpán Rak Guitar Competition 2017 is dedicated to the Czech classical composer Štěpán Rak (1945), who has produced major works for guitar, innovating the instrument’s technique. The purposes of this project are to promote:

  •    A contemporary repertoire for guitar.
  •    Štěpán Rak’s compositions for guitar.
  •    New instrumental techniques for guitar.
  •    A bridge between an international community of young guitar players.
  •    A reflection of the Czech identity based on a specific contemporary Czech cultural expression.
  •   That young guitar players get in touch with Štěpán Rak’s guitar repertoire.
  •    A joyful environment for guitar players to play to their strengths.

The repertoire for the competition was strictly a guitar composition by Štěpán Rak.

Dr. Mariel Peñaloza Moreno.

The winners are:

Category A:

1st place: Ryan Azfa / Furiant

2nd place: Letizia di Francescantonio / Good bye

3rd place: Luka van der Weelden / Znelka-Introduction

Category B:

1st place: Daniel Smith / Ancient Song

2nd place: Sam Dilling / Lullaby

3rd place: Ester Holá / Mysterious winter (from the 5 Fairy Tales)

Category C:

1st place: Pleunie Euser / Golden coach (from the 5 Fairy Tales) and Barbarian Dance

2nd place: Emre Yalcin / Malé Blues (NB: sick and could not come to the gala)

3rd place: Carlos Gutiérrez / Spanish Dance

The composer Štěpán Rak studied at the Fine Arts School in Prague and continued guitar studies at the Prague conservatory. He studied composition at the Prague Academy of Arts and taught guitar at the Jyväskylä Conservatory in Finland. In 2000, he was historically and officially named the first professor of Guitar in the Czech Republic at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where he still teaches guitar.

His contribution to the guitar world is not only thanks to his prolific composition activity but through his new techniques and guitar explorations, for example, the use of the 5 fingers of the right hand. According to this Czech composer “Humans have five fingers on their hands and I do not see one viable reason why any one of them should be excluded from playing”. His strumming expanded techniques inevitably lead to a freer and more unorthodox use of the usual 4 fingers of the right hand, representing a challenge to the guitar player, even with compositions where no extended technique is used. Moreover, this opens new doors for the compositions themselves, as more and new elements allow for more and new possibilities.

H.E. Jana Reinišova with the Ambassador of Estonia, H.E. Peep Jahilo.

Another element in his compositional language is the contemporary use of ‘colors’ in the guitar, given by the use of sull tasto (playing near the frets) and sull ponticello (playing near the bridge), which enhances the guitar soundscape.

The teacher Mariel Peñaloza Moreno studied Guitar at the National School of Music of Mexico, being the second woman who graduated (with distinction) in Guitar studies. She became a professor of Guitar at that same institution before moving to The Netherlands to study guitar at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. She then followed masters in Image and Sound at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts while she followed masters in musicology at the University of Amsterdam. Peñaloza got a Ph.D. in Dutch ethnology at that same University. She has an experience of more than twenty years in guitar teaching and founded Guitar@Work as a forum for exploring the magical world of the guitar. Building bridges is her motto and the Štěpán Rak Guitar Competition is an example thereof.

Organizers and sponsors

1)   The Embassy of the Czech republic in The Netherlands

2)   The Czech Center in Rotterdam

3)   Guitar@Work

4)   Cez Group

5)   Ajeto Glassworks

6)   The International School of The Hague

On Thursday 11th May a concert by Štěpán Rak was held at the residence of Ambassador Jana Reinišova .


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