The Yale School of Music will host its 10th Guitar Extravaganza this Saturday, featuring concerts, discussions and classes about classical guitar performance.

The event, located in Morse Recital Hall, will run from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and feature David Russell, one of the world’s most distinguished guitarists. The event aims to celebrate the world of classical guitar.

“Some people feel that the guitar is the most popular instrument in the world, and the most universal instrument between cultures,” Benjamin Verdery, the event’s artistic director, said. He noted that the event is not exclusively intended for classical guitarists. “You’re going to hear this crazy variety of music that may open up a whole new world for you.” Essential guitar accessories and an interest to learn can take a beginner long way. 

The day will begin with performances by young student guitarists: the Hartt Suzuki Guitar Ensembles, Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy Ensembles, Heritage High School Guitar Ensembles and Tuscarora High School Guitar Ensembles. Tuscarora High School students will travel from as far as Virginia.

Verdery hopes young guitarists will feel inspired when they see their peers perform in a professional space and to continue to practice and play guitar.

After the performances, Russell will hold an open Q&A session. Russell is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and won a Grammy award in 2004 for Best Instrumental Solo Performance.

Guitarist Xiaobo Pu MUS ’20 described Russell as “an idol for all the guitarists in my generation and definitely one of the best in the world.”

A discussion panel called “Life after Music School” will spotlight several School of Music alumni discussing their post-graduation careers. The panel will include Adam Levine ’90, Christopher Mallett MUS ’09, Jiji Kim MUS ’17 and Liz Faure MUS ’18. Simon Powis MUS ’14 and Trevor Babb MUS ’18 will moderate the panel.

Levin co-founded the Kithara Project with his guitar group, The Great Necks Guitar Trio. The project involves a group of acclaimed classical guitarists who run long-term classical guitar education programs in Boston, Mexico City and Albuquerque. The project’s website emphasizes the guitar’s ability to “reach across socioeconomic and other societal fault lines to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds” and the idea that “no instrument provides so poetic a metaphor for shared histories and cultural fluidity.”

Mallet and Kim teach at the California Conservatory and Arizona State University, respectively. In 2016, Kim won first prize in the Concert Artists Guild Competition. Both guitarists tour and perform around the country. Faure is a member of the guitar-percussion duo “Party of One” which focuses on new music and commissions they describe as “beautiful, strange and a little sad.”

“I always find these kinds of events very special because you can hang out with these guitarists and hear them talk,” said guitarist Dani Zanuttini-Frank ’22. “I’m really curious about how they talk about their lives … and what they see as important about classical guitar.”

The day will continue with three professional performances. The first will feature Party of One and the Great Necks Trio. The Trio has reached top 10 in the Traditional Classical Billboard charts. The second concert will feature Duo Noire and JIJI, which is Kim’s stage name. Duo Noire, Mallett and fellow guitarist Thomas Flippin, has performed at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the 92nd Street Y.

JIJI will perform selections on both electric and acoustic guitar. Before JIJI’s concert, Verdery will give a masterclass and present on “Why the Music of Jimi Hendrix Matters to Me.”

Zanuttini-Frank commented on the genre diversity and “more esoteric variety” in guitar repertoire, as opposed to the repertoire of other instruments, noting that similar instrument-specific conventions would not include non-classical genres.

The evening will close with Russell’s performance at 7:30 p.m.

“I hope that those who go will be inspired, touched and transported in this difficult time,” Verdery said. “If someone can go to a concert and be taken somewhere else, the music can help them reflect and see their own gifts and beauties.”

The last Guitar Extravaganza was held in 2014.


Phoebe Liu |

Phoebe Liu was a Public Editor for the Managing Board of 2023 and Managing Editor for the Managing Board of 2022. She previously covered the School of Music as a staff reporter. Phoebe graduated from Trumbull College with a degree in Statistics & Data Science and was an Education Studies Scholar and Yale Journalism Scholar.