The Second Manchester Guitar Festival Heads Back To The Stoller Hall This Month

...With a very special chance to catch Aquarelle on home turf
May 7, 2023

It's hard to believe that it's actually a year since Cumbrian parkrunning author and girl-about-town Ms Jones was headed to Manchester's Stoller Hall for some of the finest guitar to be heard this side of Castellón (or on a Dire Straits album) - but it is - and after a hugely successful first year, The Stoller Hall is bringing back the Manchester Guitar Festival for a second year from 19-21 May 2023. With a stellar line up across the three day event, this year’s festival is also packed full of performances, workshops and master-classes with some of the world’s finest guitar stars from the worlds of acoustic, jazz, flamenco and blues.

Over the weekend, there are headline performances each evening in The Stoller Hall, as well as a variety of other performances in The Carole Nash Hall and pop-up performances in The Atrium. A series of participatory workshops and activities for young people and adults is also running across the site throughout the festival – suitable for everyone from early years upwards with all levels of experience. There will even be an opportunity for budding young guitarists to try out the world of Chetham’s as part of two great events - Chetham’s Guitar Choir on the Saturday and Chetham’s Guitar Academy on the Sunday.

Eric Bibb

Kicking off the Festival and headlining on Friday 19 May is the world renowned Blues Troubadour and two-time Grammy Award nominee Eric Bibb: Described The Guardian as ‘…one of the finest American exponents of acoustic blues, an engaging performer and rousing guitarist who is blessed with a quite remarkable voice.’ 

Bibb and his band will perform the classics he is known and loved for, whilst introducing brand new material from his much-anticipated forthcoming album, Ridin’, due for release in Spring 2023. Ridin’ follows on from the multiple award-winning, critically acclaimed album Dear America; a wonderful continuation of the vision that informs Eric Bibb’s artistry as a modern-day bluesman. Grounded in blues and folk tradition with contemporary sensibilities, Bibb’s music continues to reflect his thoughts on current world events and his own lived experiences, whilst remaining entertaining, uplifting, inspirational and relevant. As Blues Brother actor Dan Aykroyd famously declared to Eric, “You are what the blues in the new century should be about”.

Andrés Peña

On Saturday 20 May the atmosphere will move from the Blues to a more Spanish vibe when Espíritu Flamenco will present a spectacular evening of traditional flamenco music, song and dance, with acclaimed guitarist Miguel Pérez, dancer and choreographer Andrés Peña and cantaor (singer) Miguel Rosendo

Pérez is a flamenco guitarist, in much demand by singers and dancers for his skills in accompaniment. Born into a flamenco dynasty and son of a flamenco guitar maestro, he began his training at the age of 8. Miguel’s distinctive style as a guitarist and composer led him to receive the Solo Guitarist prize in Nîmes. He has performed with leading dance companies over many years, worked in the major tablaos of Seville and Tokyo, and continues to accompany international artists in the major international flamenco festivals each year. 

Peña is an accomplished and highly respected flamenco artist, dancer, musician, choreographer and teacher. Completing the line up is Miguel Rosendo - a highly respected Flamenco singer in his own right whose voice is powerful and resonant, expressing the traditional flamenco songs with great sensitivity and a wide range of expression. 

Rounding off an eclectic weekend of live guitar music on Sunday 21 May is Manchester’s very own dynamic and innovative Aquarelle Guitar Quartet (AGQ). Recognised as one of the world’s leading guitar quartets, they are known for their extraordinary ensemble in performance and expansive repertoire.  

Formed at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1999, the quartet went on to win several awards from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Tillett Trust and Tunnell Trust. They have performed extensively in the UK at some of the finest concert halls including the Royal Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall and The Bridgewater Hall. Numerous international engagements have taken them to destinations such as Greece, Denmark, Estonia and Israel. The ensemble made its debut in Asia in 2014 with a series of concerts in Seoul, returning for a more extensive South Korean tour in 2022. The AGQ have released six CDs with Chandos Records to critical acclaim and have more projects lined up in the near future.

Over the weekend, running alongside the Festival’s exciting live performance schedule, are a series of talks and workshops led by musicians, Chetham’s School of Music guitar tutors and graduates. For little ones, the Stoller Hall’s monthly Stoller Story Sounds will run a delightful interactive storytelling session for 3-5 year olds, and their grown-ups.

For older children, aged 8-16, Manchester Guitar Festival holds its first ever Guitar Choir. This is the perfect place for young and budding guitar players to meet other young players and learn and play alongside them with hands on tuition and guidance led by professional guitarists and teachers. For guitar enthusiasts of all abilities with a particular interest in flamenco, and prior to his evening’s performance at the Stoller Hall, Spanish virtuoso guitarist, Miguel Pérez will lead an afternoon workshop to share his knowledge and help players develop their flamenco techniques. Completing the participatory component of the Guitar Festival on the Saturday, will also be Finger-style guitar expert, Jon Gomm who will lead a master-class for guitarists with good technical ability who wish to develop their skills and understanding of this specific style of guitar playing.

On the Sunday, Manchester Guitar Festival will hold its first ever Chetham’s Guitar Academy run by Chetham’s School of Music. This free one day event offers a great opportunity for young and enthusiastic guitar players aged between 9-17 to receive expert tuition, ensemble playing, knowledge sharing and guidance from the friendly and specialist team of Chetham’s tutors and professional players including Mike Baker (who will perform later that day as part of the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet) and Chetham’s alumni, classical guitarist Alexandra Whittingham.

Guitarist and electronic composer Stuart McCallum also hosts an Electric Guitar and Pedal Composition workshop on the Sunday for those who wish to explore the effects of pedals and how they can be used to create new and exciting sounds.

Fran Healey, General Manager at The Stoller Hall, says “We are so delighted to be bringing the Guitar Festival back this May following such a successful debut in 2022. Alongside the amazing headliners including blues legend Eric Bibb and traditional flamenco from guitarist Miguel Pérez performing with dancer Andrés Peña and Miguel Rosendo, we’ll be filling the weekend with pop-up performances across our building, workshops, trade stalls and other activities. As always, we’ll be putting on activities for families, giving your little ones their first chance to experience live music. This year, we’re really looking forward to seeing people bring their instruments and get involved in the participatory events we’re getting lined up for you. Guitar Festival is open to all abilities and all types of guitar playing and styles, as well as people who want to come and enjoy the wide variety of musical events.”

For a full Festival Guide CLICK HERE