Brevard, NC. Situated southwest of Asheville , Brevard is a vibrant and quaint little town that has a strong musical community. My partner and I were in search since early 2022 for a classical guitar festival that not only brings high-class faculty to its students, but an environment that was different from the 'west coast vibe'. The AGW of the Brevard Music Festival on its 5th year was a suitable choice.
Adam Holzman, the festival’s director is an established and well-respected musician of all time. He has been performing and teaching at the UT-Austin and is popular in the classical guitar world. Not only has he mastered the craft, but his superior technical command and godly musicality makes him one of the greatest teachers of guitar. Together with Adam was Rene Izquierdo, Cuban-born guitarist who boasts astounding technique and is a professor at the UW-Milwaukee. Rene has been invited to perform in several places and is a great resource for any classical guitarist. Martha Masters was also part of the team and whose business acumen and knowledge on pedagogy is quite admirable in the classical guitar scene - she makes the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) a success today. Apostolos Paraskevas, with a composition background from Berklee College of Music and one with innovative ideas, brought immense satisfaction to the group and offered each student a fresh perspective on their musical routes.
The workshop was a dynamic place of learning. One of the many positive things that stood out about AGW was that the faculty encouraged collaboration and discourse. They understood that information is not a one size fits all - so the students were encouraged to work with ideas that resonated with them and that aligned with their skills.
1-on-1 and group masterclasses gave students of different levels a place to enhance their skills. Instruction was both broad and thorough, allowing for each student's practice to grow. The faculty did their best to support the students with their musical choices, but they also questioned the outcomes of our playing. The musical instruction was impeccable and organically reciprocal.
The program also gave us a chance to watch the faculty in concert and boy was it a joy to the physical senses. There were dinners that allowed us to interview our faculty and one another, as well as a panel night where the faculty shared wisdom about their teaching and learning. The program was very friendly to all guitarists of varying levels.
The beauty of the BMC was the accessibility of the teachers, the cabin and lush environment that provided a sanctuary for learning, and cultivating a path of learning that did not distract each person from their personal enjoyment and guitar likings. We were allowed to be ourselves, without the pressure of performing. We were molded according to the materials we brought to the table.
Adult music programs deserve the spotlight today - in a world that is full of noise and one that is gradually recovering from the hard-hitting Covid-19 pandemic. The AGW of the Brevard Music Festival should be highlighted as one of the most accessible guitar workshops in the US today that supports the continuous learning for adults. Many students, especially older students, need resources that the talented young community of players have access to - faculty, knowledge, structure and practice, training and performance, and a community that they can identify and feel free with.