Herald Tribune, Sunday, December 19, 2016 Arts Section,
By Jan Handleman, Arts Editor
Classical guitar may not get the attention of other art forms in the Sarasota area’s busy cultural scene, but for 11 years, Thomas Koch has been building a steady and loyal audience for the music that brings an international lineup of artists to town each season.
“When I moved here 20 years ago, I thought there is still a bit of classical guitar activity in Sarasota. Most were soloists traveling with orchestras,” said Koch. But after a year of performances marking the 100th birthday of Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo, guitar concerts came to a halt here, he said.
“That was strange for me,” said Koch, who plays professionally and teaches guitar at Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts center musical program. “I got together with a bunch of friends and we thought about how can we change that.”
The result was Guitar Sarasota, a nonprofit that has now outgrown the capacity of the old parish hall at St. Paul Lutheran Church, where it first presented an international array of performers. “It sounded great in the old building. It supported the attractiveness even more that you could sit there with 200 people with an unamplified guitar in an historic building.”
Three years ago, Guitar Sarasota moved to the Unitarian Universalist Church, which has some of the same architectural and acoustic features â€” a terrazzo floor, glass siding and a high wooden ceiling.
The group now consistently sells out the 248 seats available in the church. Koch and his colleagues hope to build on the group’s appeal with a schedule of four concerts from February through April, and a series of free mini-concerts and lectures presented at the Crocker Memorial Church.
The series opens Feb. 4 with French guitarist Thibaut Garcia, who won the first prize in the 2015 Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition. One of the prizes is a 50-concert world tour, and Guitar Sarasota has been presenting the annual winners since 2007.
Marco Sartor, from Uruguay, performs Feb. 25. He has won numerous international competitions and has performed solo and chamber music recitals around the world.
On March 18, the organization will present DuoKM, featuring Katrin Klingeberg of Germany and Sebastian Montes of Chile. The duo started working together when they were students at the University of of Hanover, Germany, and had their debut in 2005. While in Sarasota, they also will be conducting a master class that is available exclusively for Guitar Sarasota members.
The final program on April 1 features Cuban guitarist Manuel Barrueco, considered one of the most important guitarists of today. He has made numerous recordings and performed around the world in intimate recitals and major concert halls.
In addition, the organization is continuing its series of free concerts and talks that began in November. Upcoming programs include Joseph Shields on Jan. 9, Kevin Mandeville on Feb. 13, Lyndall Vickers on March 13 and a community and youth showcase on April 10.
Guitar Sarasota 2017 Concert Season
All concerts at 7:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church, 3975 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Single tickets are $30 for members, $35 for nonmembers. Season tickets are $100. Memberships start at $20. guitarsarasota.org
Feb. 4: Thibaut Garcia
Feb. 25: Marco Sartor
March 18: Duo KM: Klingeberg & Montes
April 1: Manuel Barrueco
Mini-concerts and lecture series.
Free admission. Crocker Church, 1260 12th St., Sarasota. All programs from 7:30-9 p.m.
Jan. 9: Joseph Shields
Feb. 13: Kevin Manderville
March 13: Lyndall Vickers
April 10: Community and Youth Showcase Concert