Alumnus, friends headline Tennessee Guitar Festival at MTSU

An acclaimed alumnus, a past winner, neighbors and friends will help MTSU celebrate the 14th annual Tennessee Guitar Festival and International Competition May 27-30 on campus alongside some of the world’s best young guitarists in concerts and master classes.

Click on the poster for more details.

Click on the poster for more details.

Each evening’s concert will begin at 8 p.m. in Hinton Hall inside the university’s Wright Music Building.

MTSU alumnus Matt Palmer, who debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2014 in that venue’s D’Addario Performance Series, will return to campus to headline the 2015 Tennessee Guitar Festival and present the Friday, May 29, concert.

Austin, Texas-based Chad Ibison, who won the 2013 Tennessee Guitar Festival Competition, also will return to MTSU to present the opening concert on Wednesday, May 27. He’ll be joined by Dr. Michael Patilla from Mississippi State University.

On Thursday, May 28, Dr. Elliot Frank from East Carolina University and Dr. Nick Ciraldo from the University of Southern Mississippi will perform.

The guitar competition, which features a total $2,750 in prize money, regularly draws the world’s best young guitarists to compete for the $1,200 first prize. A special concert featuring the guitar competition finalists is set for 8 p.m. Saturday, May 30, in Hinton Hall.

All events are open to the public. Admission to each concert is $10; students 18 and under will be admitted free. A single registration fee of $30 will admit guests to all four concerts along with lectures, workshops and master classes.

Palmer, a Tennessee native and 2003 magna cum laude graduate of MTSU who now teaches classical guitar in Bowie, Maryland, has received rave reviews at international performances. Guitar International Magazine described his work as having “the soul of an artist, with the technical virtuosity of the highest caliber and a heightened sense of musicality.” You can watch his most recent promotional video below.


Ibison, who is currently a teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin, has won numerous international guitar competition prizes. You can watch Ibison perform Bach’s “Sonata in E minor for flute and continuo” at the 2013 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition below.


Festival performers Ciraldo, Frank and Patilla all are seasoned international performers, competition winners and master teachers representing university guitar programs in the region. In addition to evening performances, they will also be presenting master classes at the festival.

“This competition brings in world-class guitarists,” said Dr. William Yelverton, festival director and a professor of music at MTSU. “This is a unique opportunity to hear some of the finest young guitarists in the world compete for prestige and prize money. As with last year, we are expecting a contingent of guitarists from Europe and Latin America to be among the competitors in this year’s competition.

“The Saturday night finals will be an awesome display of solo guitar playing. I particularly hope young guitarists from the community take this opportunity to hear this event, the largest of its kind in the state. It only happens once a year.”

More information on the event is available at www.TennesseeGuitarFestival.com.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)