San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Music Beat

Master strummers convene for 20th International Guitar Festival

Throughout the world, the guitar is the king of instruments. For such a young creation, the guitar has permeated nearly every genre of music. When new musicians learn scales and harmonies, many start with an acoustic guitar, and whether you’re listening to country, jazz, or crunkcore, there is pretty much always a guitar involved.

To celebrate this ubiquitous instrument, the International Guitar Festival takes place at the National Theater this week, incorporating seven international artists and no fewer than 80 Costa Rican musicians. Cuban-born maestro Jorge Luis Zamora has spearheaded the festival and serves as director.

“We’re returning with a lot of excitement to make this festival a reality,” said Zamora in a statement. “It’s been months of arduous work, sacrifice and dedication to bring back to the Costa Rican public an event that is so important to the musical culture of the country and the guitar movement.”

Since its founding by guitarist Luis Zumbado in 1987, there have only been 19 editions of the festival, owing to inconsistent interest and support. This year marks the 20th festival, and Zamora has high hopes.

“As with previous occasions, the artists will give us an exponentially higher caliber of instrumental interpretation, covering different styles like classical music, flamenco, latin-jazz-rock, concerts for guitar and orchestra and different formats, from soloists to guitar orchestras,” he said. “Of course we’ll also have a high representation of Costa Ricans.”

The festival honors Spanish master Joaquín Rodrigo, who passed away in 1999 after composing music for nearly a century. The first evening’s performances on Sept. 24 are dedicated entirely to Rodrigo’s compositions. With such a variety of styles and talent, the festival can’t help but strike a chord.

Festival Internacional de Guitarra takes place Sept. 24-28 at the National Theater. Wed.-Sun., 8 p.m. ₡8,000-15,000 ($16-30). Info: National Theater website.

Contact Robert Isenberg at risenberg@ticotimes.net

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