Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
Press Release

Winners Announced at 2015 Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival

Three-day festival featured competitors from 14 countries.

By - Aug 18th, 2015 01:00 pm

Brookfield, WI (August 18, 2015) Hailing from as close as Brookfield, Wis., to as far as Salerno, Italy, the winners of the third annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival were announced on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts (Wilson Center). Semi-final and final competition rounds in four different genres—Fingerstyle, Classical, Jazz, and Rock/Blues—took place over the three-day event and featured 59 guitarists from 14 countries competing for $22,000 in cash prizes.

From the pool of YouTube and DVD applications received this spring, a jury of renowned artists from each genre selected the semi-finalists who were invited to perform in the live semi-final rounds on Thursday, Aug. 13, and Friday, Aug. 14, at the Wilson Center. Following the semi-finals, six competitors in each genre were selected to advance to the live final rounds on Saturday, Aug. 15. A complete list of all semi-finalists and finalists is available at www.wilson-center.com/guitar-2015-semifinalists.

First-place winners in each genre received $3,000, as well as an opportunity to perform as part of the Festival headliner concert featuring fingerstyle legend Leo Kottke with special guest Antoine Dufour on Saturday, Aug. 15. Second-place winners in each genre received $1,500, and third-place winners in each genre received $1,000. Guitarists were allowed to compete in up to two genres.

In the Classical competition, first place was awarded to Nathan Bredeson (Ottawa, Canada), second place was awarded to Samuel Hines (Long Beach, Calif.), and third place was awarded to Mark Akin (St. Louis, Mo.).

In the Jazz competition, first place was awarded to Matthew Rotker-Lynn (Milwaukee, Wis.), second place was awarded to Jordan Rattner (Brown Deer, Wis.), and third place was awarded to David Colon (Whittier, Calif.).

In the Fingerstyle competition, first place was awarded to Rachael Carlson (Milwaukee, Wis.), second place was awarded to Sam Balistreri (Milwaukee, Wis.), and third place was awarded to Ryan Ayers (Playa Del Rey, Calif.).

In the Rock/Blues competition, first place was awarded to Frank Cara (Salerno, Italy), second place was awarded to Chris Schuck (Brookfield, Wis.), and third place was awarded to Mark Mendoza (Whitefish Bay, Wis.).

“Several of the judges remarked on the high level of playing throughout the competition rounds, which made it very difficult to give only three prizes in each category. But even though not all competitors receive an award, the experience of the competition is life-changing,” said Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival Manager Don Sipe. “From the connections they make with their fellow competitors to the opportunity to jam with fellow guitarists to the master classes offered by seminal artists and performers, this weekend is a stepping stone in each of their careers.”

Now in its third year, the Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival has grown into a celebration of everything guitar. In addition to the competitions, the Festival features concerts by world-class artists; master classes and clinic opportunities for both the competitors and the public; vendor booths; and free concerts by young, local artists.

“When this festival was first conceived three years ago, it was with the belief that the most interesting and innovative results come from bringing together people and ideas that do not ordinarily share the same environment—that’s when creative sparks fly,” said Wilson Center President & CEO Jonathan Winkle. “This is truly a one-of-a-kind festival. No other guitar festival in the world brings together artists and students of these four genres at the same time.”

Sponsors of the 2015 Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival include Cascio Interstate Music, Enterforce,TravelWisconsin.com, the Wilson Family Foundation, Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, the Les Paul Foundation, the D’Addario Foundation (In-Kind Sponsor), and Visit Brookfield (Tourism Partner).

About the Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival
Now in its third year, the Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival is an annual, multi-genre festival that features four different competitions—Rock/Blues, Fingerstyle, Jazz, and Classical—open to all ages, with $22,000 in cash prizes. In addition to the evening performances, the festival weekend also includes master class and clinic opportunities for participants and auditors. The entire festival—including semi-final and final competition rounds, master classes, vendor booths and a stage filled with local young guitarists—is open to the public. To learn more, visit www.wilson-center.com/guitar-competition-festival.

About the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary cultural arts center that presents performances by world-renowned artists and ensembles; offers arts education opportunities; curates the Ploch Art Gallery, which features both national and Wisconsin-based fine artists; and is committed to extending the arts beyond the walls of the Center through Lynn Chappy ArtsPark—a vibrant, outdoor sculpture landscape that will engage and inspire the broader Southeastern Wisconsin Community. In August, the annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival celebrates the world’s leading classical, rock/blues, jazz, and fingerstyle guitarists. Fine artists from throughout the Midwest are showcased at the Hidden River Art Festival each September. The Wilson Center nurtures lifelong learning through innovative programs and classes for all interests, ages, and abilities in state-of-the-art studios and classrooms. Some of Southeast Wisconsin’s finest arts organizations offer professional instruction at the Wilson Center, including First Stage Theater Academy and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. To learn more, visit www.wilson-center.com.

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