Mar 12, 5:08 PM (ET)
By BRIAN WITTE
BALTIMORE (AP) - Guitarists from classical, jazz, country, rock, blues, flamenco and fusion styles will gather in June for "The First World Guitar Congress."
The weeklong event will include concerts, recitals, classes, symposiums and exhibits by leading manufacturers of guitar equipment.
"It's really just showcasing the love of the guitar," said Johnny Hiland, who ripped into his "blazing chicken pickin" hybrid style of country, rock and blues at a Hard Rock Cafe news conference.
About 50 musicians will participate, including electric guitar pioneer Les Paul, classical guitarist Sharon Isbin and jazz musician Pat Martino. Composers Jim Hall and Ronaldo Miranda also are scheduled to participate. Emilia Segovia, wife of the late guitarist Andres Segovia, is the honorary president of the event.
Organizers say the event is being arranged to encourage interaction between audiences and performers.
Martino will hold a symposium for students and discuss how he learned to play the guitar a second time after a 1980 brain operation left him with amnesia.
Martino said the guitar "became a toy once again, the way it used to be when I was a little boy." He said he hoped to encourage students of music to "be as playful as they possibly can and not to be consumed by the responsibilities and the confrontations of their upcoming career."
Isbin, who organized an international guitar festival in 1985 at Carnegie Hall, said the event will be a celebration of the instrument's versatility.
"One of the great things about a congress like this or a festival that brings together so many different people is it ends up spinning off in all kinds of new directions," she said.
The event is scheduled June 2-9 at 10 different venues at Towson University and Baltimore. Two concerts are scheduled at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.
Helene Breazeale, a professor of dance at Towson University and an event organizer, said musicians will play for between 25 and 40 minutes, so people will get to hear a variety of guitar styles.
"They come to a concert and, whether they like it or not, they're going to hear a classical guitarist, a jazz guitarist maybe a flamenco guitarist then maybe one other style," Breazeale said.
About 20,000 people are estimated to attend the event, which has a budget of about $1 million that was raised from a variety of sponsors, Breazeale said.
Breazeale said the idea grew out of a similar event she helped organize for the cello that was held in Russia in 1997.
On the Net:
World Guitar Congress: http://www.towson.edu/worldmusiccongresses