2019 Parkening Guitar Winner
Classical Guitar Competition Review
June 13, 2019
Living legend classical guitarist, Christopher Parkening, again
spearheaded his fifth international classical guitar competition at
Pepperdine University in Malibu where he is also a professor
and Distinguished Chair of the Classical Guitar Department.
2006 was the inaugural year and it continues to go strong,
occurring every four years.
The competition is the most prestigious in the world of classical
guitar, honoring Parkening's lifetime commitment to fostering
musical excellence in young artists as demonstrated by his
mentor, the great Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia.
"I have been very blessed in my life to have my career launched
by competitions," Parkening said. "The first one was when I
was 15 years old and competed in the Young Musicians
Foundation Competition and ended up playing the Concerto in
D major by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and the second was a
competition judged by Andres Segovia in Spain, where I ended
up becoming one of the judges."
The competition featured cash prizes in excess of $65,000 - the
largest prize purse of any classical guitar competition. After
three days of performances by 15 competitors, Andrea Roberto,
the 23 year old from Italy, won the Jack Marshall gold medal, a
$30,000 cash prize, and a title that might rocket him to the next
dimension in his life and career. He placed fifth in the 2015
Parkening Competition, so the dedication to his instrument over
the past fours years was evident.
Backed by the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra,
Roberto played the Concerto No. 1 in D Major by Mario
Castelnuovo-Tedesco (same piece Parkening played at age 15)
with an encore piece by Niccolo Paganini titled Sonata Op. 3
No. 1. The two other finalists were Alec Holcomb (silver medal
- $15,000) from the USA and Sergey Perelekhov (bronze -
$7,500) of Russia.
Pablo Sanz Villegas, gold-medal winner of the inaugural
competition, was one of the five judges.
Here's what Parkening had to say about the influence of his
"Andres Segovia was a pivotal influence upon my life and
career, and I have always believed that he was the greatest
classical guitarist of all time," Parkening said. "He single-
handedly elevated the guitar to the status of a concert classical
instrument. He moved millions with his poetic, lyrical phrasing,
beautiful sound, and romantic musical spirit. Simply put,
Andres Segovia was to the guitar what Niccolo Paganini was to
the violin, or what Franz Liszt was to the piano."
"When I asked my cousin Jack Marshall (who was staff guitarist
at MGM studios) about playing the guitar, he said, 'you have to
do two things. First, start with classical guitar and get a good
foundation in guitar technique. Secondly, get the records of
Andres Segovia. He is the greatest in the world.'"
Parkening would take two Master Classes with Segovia. The
first one at UC-Berkeley in 1964 at age 16. He was the
youngest chosen of the nine performing students. The second
class was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1966. He also
was fortunate enough to study with Segovia privately in his
hotel room when he would come to Los Angeles for concerts
and also studied privately with him in Spain.
"He was am amazing teacher and had a towering personality,"
Parkening said. "If he liked your playing, you knew it. If he
didn't like your playing, you would know that as well!"
And Parkening has been carrying the torch for his mentor for
many years now.
Stay tuned for the next competition in 2023 as Parkening
continues to fulfill his vision and to support the lives and careers
of blossoming classical guitarists.