Arts

Interview: Slava Grigoryan – Tuning up for the 2023 Adelaide Guitar Festival

Slava Grigoryan, Artistic Director for the Adelaide Guitar Festival shares his insight into the 2023 festival.

The Adelaide Guitar Festival returns this July with an exceptional program featuring the world’s finest guitar players across a myriad of musical genres. With such a packed program, there is sure to be something for everyone’s taste in music.

Festival Artistic Director, Slava Grigoryan recently caught up with me to discuss the Adelaide Guitar Festival as well as what it is about the festival that he loves.

“I think the most striking thing about this festival is that there is literally something for everyone. It is so democratic when it comes to genre balance. Each year, the festival is different from the last, but within each festival the program is so varied. For lovers of the instrument they do tend to float in and out of different events, but there are one-off gigs that only certain people may be interested in. There is also a lot of free content as well, which is a great way of drawing in people who may not quite know what to expect from ticketed events.”

The guitar is a hugely versatile instrument, appearing in just about every genre of music in some form or other. I asked Slava if that is one of the things he loves about the instrument.

“Absolutely. That artistically is what makes the instrument so alive for me personally. Every time you turn the radio on, or do a music search online, there is so much inspiration around every corner — sounds you’ve never heard before, licks that are new. There are a lot of people who focus on one aspect of the guitar, and that’s totally fine, but there is also this commonality. The guitar is almost like a visa to a whole lot of countries and styles of music.”

This year’s program is once again jam packed with an array of performances and artists. Slava shared the process they go through to curate the program each year.

“It’s a funny process. It’s something I’ve been doing for several years. I jumped into the Guitar Festival team at the end of 2008, so almost fifteen years. We had bi-annual festivals until 2018, more or less. Each program I try to make is new and fresh. From a programming perspective there is so much happening. With the ticketed shows, we have a certain number of conversations with artists that can span a year or so until we are able to get dates to line up and things like that. There are also lots of plans and conversations with artists who are working on a specific program. Sometimes they are working on something on their own and we are wanting to assist with that, or something that has been commissioned. We also do a lot of planning by keeping our ears to the ground and finding artists by chance. We try to find local artists who are doing great things in the guitar world as well and we want to be able to provide a platform to showcase them and their work where we can.”

The Adelaide Guitar Festival runs between July 1 and 16.

“When I look at all the ticketed shows, I get goosebumps thinking about all those magical experiences people are going to see and feel the same way I did when we first heard them or locked them in for this year’s program. I’m particularly excited for two events. There’s two ‘full circle’ events in this year’s festival. One is Connor Whyte, who won the International Guitar competition last year. Part of his prize was to perform a solo concert this year and he is our first Adelaidian to win this. The second one, but a slightly less obvious one, is the first proper death metal bands as part of one of our late night shows. We have an incredible band called Freedom of Fear playing. They are making huge waves around the world in the metal music scene. They are a local band, so it is very exciting to have them as part of this year’s programming.”

Further details on this year’s program and tickets can be found at https://guitar.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/ .

Interviewed by Ben Stefanoff

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

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