Valérie Hartzell began her classical guitar studies on a half-size Ramirez at the age of three. At the age of six, she studied with maestro Alexandre Lagoya at the Académie Internationale d’Eté in Nice, France.
She has performed in Europe, Canada, the U.S. and has appeared on television in Nice, FR and Houston, TX. She has also been featured on National Public Radio in Texas and Alaska, the show “Women in Music” which is broadcast on CKWR, 98.5 FM Canada, U.S. syndicated radio show, Classical Guitar Alive! and on the BBC Radio in the UK. She has been featured in several guitar magazines and newspapers including Bedfordshire The Oracle (UK), Bedfordshire on Sunday (UK), Anchorage Daily News (Alaska, USA), Warrington Guardian (UK), Soundboard Magazine (US), Classical Guitar Magazine (UK), and Gendai Magazine (Japan).
She has performed in over 30 festivals, including the Middle Tennessee State University Festival, the East Carolina University Competition and Festival in Greenville, NC, the 2010 ChamberArt Music Festival in Madrid, Spain, the Pennsylvania Academy of Music Festival where she shared the stage with Eliot Fisk, Guitaromania in Agen, France, at the Annual Classical Guitar Fall Festival in Oneonta, NY, at the Menil Community Arts Festival Performance at the Rothko Chapel in Houston and at the Latitude Festival in England on the BBC Introducing Stage (first classical musician to perform at this festival and was chosen out of 117 musicians on the short list by BBC Radio 3).
Hartzell has been featured as a guest soloist for the New York City Classical Guitar Society, the Grand Canyon Guitar Society, the Performing Arts Society of Kenai, Alaska, the Liverpool Guitar Society (UK), the Oxford Guitar Society (UK), at Arizona State University, at Svenska Margaretakyrkan in Oslo, Norway, at University of Alaska at Anchorage, at Peck School of the Arts (University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin), Clare Hall at Cambridge University (UK), and Holywell Room at Oxford University (UK). In spring 2016, she gave an eleven-concert tour of Alaska as part of Duo Amiche (with mezzo-soprano & pianist, Tamara McCoy) and an seven-concert tour of England, including a London debut.
Hartzell has also performed with studio members of the Houston Grand Opera at the Rienzi Recital Series, Fantasia para un getilhombre by Joaquin Rodrigo with the Kingwood Pops Orchestra and Carols of the Southwest by Conrad Susa with the Houston Chamber Choir.
She is a prizewinner in 8 international competitions including 1st prizes at the 10th International Guitar Competition “Simone Salmaso” in Italy and at the Concours de Guitare Classique Heitor Villa-Lobos in France.
Hartzell has a Bachelor’s from Peabody Conservatory where she studied with Manuel Barrueco on scholarship and a Master’s Degree from Radford University in Virginia where she was awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship.
She has two recordings; Ex Tenebris Lux, a solo project and Presti, an ensemble project, which were both recorded at the Houston Public Media studios in Houston.
Currently, she lives in Bedfordshire where she maintains an active concert career both as a soloist and as a chamber musician while maintaining a private guitar studio. She is the Musical Director and Conductor of the Cambridge Guitar Orchestra (UK) and is the Artistic Director of the annual "Classical Minds" Guitar Festival and Competition held in Houston, Texas.
"Virtuosismo" and "technical dominance" are the words used by the press to describe American guitarist, Jay Kacherski. A native of New York, Kacherski has given solo performances and master classes throughout the United States and Mexico at music venues such as the Festival Internacional de Guitarra del Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, Mexico City; the New Orleans International Guitar Festival, the Ollin Yoliztli Center for the Arts in Mexico City; and the Concert Artist Series at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C. As a member of the Texas Guitar Quartet, he has given performances and master classes at the Brevard Music Center, the Texas Guitar Workshop, the Florida Guitar Foundation in Miami, and at various universities and concert series throughout the United States and abroad including a six city tour of China.
In 2007, Jay Kacherski was a member of the guitar faculty at the Escuela Nacional de Música, the music conservatory for the National University of Mexico (the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, UNAM). In 2008, he returned to Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar researching, performing, and promoting contemporary classical guitar music of Mexico. His guide and teacher for his Fulbright work was the world-renowned Mexican guitarist Juan Carlos Laguna. Since then, he has been premiering many new Mexican guitar works (both solo and chamber) in the United States and has created the first ever complete catalog of Mexican guitar works on the internet with links to videos, audio, scores, and more. It is called the MGMC—the Mexican Guitar Music Catalog, and is available at the website www.kacherskiguitar.com.
Jay Kacherski is on the guitar faculty at Loyola University, the University of New Orleans, and McNeese State University, as well as NOCCA, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He is an Associate Editor for Soundboard Magazine, the director of the Francis G. Bulber Youth Orchestra Guitar Program, a reviewer for the American String Teacher Journal, and Associate Artistic Director of the "Classical Minds" International Guitar Festival in Houston, Texas.
Kacherski completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Texas at Austin with professor Adam Holzman. Prior to that, he earned a Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Dr. Nicholas Goluses. He completed his undergraduate studies with Pepe Romero protégé Dr. Mark Switzer and Eddie Lugo at Florida Southern College where he graduated with honors. Jay has also been a performer in master classes with classical guitar icons Manuel Barrueco, Sharon Isbin, Kazuhito Yamashita, Eliot Fisk, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet among others.
Adam Holzman, international performer, recording artist and teacher is hailed as “...polished and quite dazzling,” by The New York Times, “...brilliant!,” by De Gelderlander, Holland, and “...masterful!,” by The Toronto Star.
Five times a winner in major international competitions including First Prize at the 1983 Guitar Foundation of America Competition held in Quebec, Canada and Top Prize at the Ninth Concorso Internazionale di Interpretazione di Gargnano, Italy. Mr. Holzman has performed at the prestigious Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and distinguished New York venues such The 92nd St. Y, Merkin Hall, and Carnegie Recital Hall. He is also a frequent guest in music festivals and series around the globe. His extensive international performances have taken him throughout Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central and Latin America. Recent seasons performances had him appearing in New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, Montreal, Mexico, Boston, Houston, Dallas and Milwaukee. He was also been chosen by the 92nd street Y as one of 5 American artists to appear in a concert honoring Andres Segovia in fall 2013.
Mr. Holzman’s recordings for the Naxos label have been critically acclaimed. The first two are discs of the music of Fernando Sor and have been called "...irresistible” by Gramophone Magazine. Discs three and four contain the music of Manuel Ponce. Of the Sonata for Guitar and Harpsichord on Ponce Volume II Classical Guitar Magazine (England) says “It’s a fine and substantial work and here it receives the finest recording yet...” Of his Naxos release, The Venezuelan Waltzes of Antonio Lauro, the American Record Guide had this to say: “The landmark recording was David Russell’s 1980 LP. Now, 20 years later, comes another masterly recording by Adam Holzman: in many ways it raises the benchmark still further.” His Naxos release Bardenklange, Opus 13, of Johann Kaspar Mertz is considered a seminal recording and has been praised by critics around the world. His recording debut, on HRH Records, was a collection of rarely or never before recorded selections. According to The American Record Guide this performance is “…so flawless he makes it all sound easy." His recordings are all featured on the Adam Holzman channel on Pandora.
Mr. Holzman's commitment to new music led him to co-commission Samuel Adler's first Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra. He has also premiered works by composers Robert Helps, Roland Dyens, and Stephen Funk Pearson among others. This year he is part of a Consortium Grant to commission the new concerto for Guitar and Orchestra by Stephen Goss.
Adam Holzman, founder of the Guitar Department at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music is considered one of America’s leading guitar pedagogues. He heads a thriving guitar studio and his students have won an astounding array of international prizes. He is also Program Director for Classical Guitar Studies at the Brevard Music Festival, Brevard, NC where he runs two three week summer sessions focused on intensive study of all aspects of solo and chamber playing for students 14-29 years of age. www.brevardmusic.org/institute/highschool/classicalguitar/
At Brevard he also directs the Adult Guitar Workshop held in early June for students of all levels 30 years of age and older. www.brevardmusic.org/institute/guitarworkshop/
From 1992-1994 Mr. Holzman held the title of “Maestro Extraordinario” given by the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico, where he served as artist-in-residence. He was awarded the Ernst von Dohnanyi Prize for Outstanding Achievement from Florida State University and has been named The Parker C. Fielder Regents Fellow in Music at the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Holzman has been featured on the covers of both Classical Guitar Magazine and Guitart Magazine.
Mr. Holzman’s performance studies were with Bruce Holzman, Albert Valdes Blain, Eliot Fisk and Oscar Ghiglia. He was chosen twice to perform in the historic Master classes of the legendary Andres Segovia.
Kithara Duo (Olga Amelkina-Vera and Fernand Vera) was formed in 2002, when they were graduate students at the University of North Texas. Since then, they have performed nationally as well as in Europe and South America. Kithara Duo’s critically acclaimed debut CD, Beings, was released by Soundset Recordings in 2011. The duo is home to an international award-winning composer, and their first album is a world premiere recording of her music for guitar duo. In addition to Olga’s original compositions, Fernand and Olga regularly contribute to guitar duo repertoire through arrangements and transcriptions of music by such composers as Albeniz, Ferrabosco, Soler, and Vivaldi. Many of their arrangements are featured on their second CD, Lingua Franca, released in 2015. Kithara Duo are full-time faculty at Collin College in Plano, Texas, where Fernand directs the award-winning Guitar Studies program, and Olga teaches in the guitar, music history, theory, and composition areas. www.facebook.com/kitharaduo.
"This is state-of-the-art duo playing. If you haven’t discovered them, you should." - American Record Guide
Born in Houston, TX to a French mother and an Ecuadorian father, Fernand Vera is an active performer, event organizer, educator, author, arranger, and sound engineer for Kithara Duo’s two CDs, Beings and Lingua Franca. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Music from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of North Texas. Since 2012, Fernand has directed the thriving Guitar Studies program at Collin College in Plano, TX. He is the Artistic Director of the annual Collin College Guitar Festival, held each spring semester. He is also the creator and director of the annual Collin College Guitar Competition, the only event of its kind specifically for Texas community college and high school students, held every fall semester.
As an educator and author, Fernand has written several guitar method books: The Beginning Guitar Method, Vol. 1, now in its fifth edition (co-written with Olga Amelkina-Vera), The Beginning Guitar Method, Vol. 2 for continuing guitar students, and Guitar Fitness: Technical Studies for the Advancing Guitarist. These publications are used as guitar studies curriculum at Collin College for class guitar and applied lessons. Fernand’s students have won prizes in solo and ensemble competitions throughout the state of Texas. He continuously contributes to the guitar ensemble repertoire through his numerous arrangements and transcriptions.
Composer and guitarist Olga Amelkina-Vera grew up in Belarus and moved to the United States in 1997. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree Summa Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, and her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in guitar performance and music history from the University of North Texas. An active performer and award-winning composer, she has received commissions for solo guitar and guitar ensemble music, as well as for compositions for guitar with other instruments and voice. In 2013, she won first prize in the Japan Guitar Ensemble Composition Competition for her guitar quartet Cattywampus Rompus (Texas Tarantella) and was interviewed in Gendai Guitar during her trip to Tokyo. She was the first prize winner of the Austin Classical Guitar Society Composition Competition in 2009 and 2012 for her guitar quartets Ninochka and Nebulae. Her compositions are published by Productions d’Oz, including two works selected for the Frank Koonce Series. Olga’s guitar works have been performed and/or recorded by Matt Palmer, Adam Holzman, Kithara Duo, Presti, Valerie Hartzell, Patrick Lui, and many other ensembles and soloists.
Recently, Olga finished her Masters in Composition at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she studied with Xi Wang, Lane Harder, Robert Frank, and Kevin Hanlon. She was chosen to be the 2016-2017 Irving Symphony Orchestra SMU student composer-in-residence. This honor included a performance of one of her orchestral works on the symphony concert series. Her comic micro-opera “All That Glitters” was premiered at SMU in 2015.
In addition to Olga’s busy touring and teaching schedule with Kithara Duo, she is frequently invited as a conductor, composer, and clinician to festivals around the country.
Born in Mexico City, Jesus Serrano Huitron studied at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City under the guidance of Selvio Carrizosa and Jaime Soria, concluding his degree with honors in 2017.
He has maintained a constant touring schedule that has lead to concerts in some of the most diverse halls in Mexico, Canada and the United States.
Has taken masterclasses with Adriano del Sal, Carlo Marchione, David Russell, Eliot Fisk, Marcin Dylla, Marco Tamayo, Mauro Zanatta, Paolo Pegoraro, Pepe Romero, Ricardo Gallén, Zoran Dukic, Víctor Pellegrini, Xuefei Yang, 3NS4MBL3(ensamble), etc.
Has won the following prizes:
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Montreal 2017
In the United States:
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Classical Minds 2017
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Annual Texas UTD 2017
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Florida Tallahassee 2016
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition SouthernGuitarfest 2016
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition LoneStar 2016
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Boston 2015
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition San Francisco Bay 2015
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Indiana 2014
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition MTSU Tennessee 2014
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Columbus 2014
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Saltillo 2017
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Zapopan 2016
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition UACJ, Chihuahua 2013
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Xalapa 2013
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Virtuosismo Guitarristico 2012
-1st Prize at International Guitar Competition Fronteras Chihuahua 2012
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition BUAP 2011
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition 2011
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Ramon Noble 2011
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Ciudad de Colima 2011
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Ixtlahuaca 2008
-1st Prize at National Guitar Competition Paracho, Intermedios 2007
Eddie Healy began playing guitar at the age of 13. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in classical guitar performance at The University of North Texas and completed a Master of Music degree at Southern Methodist University.
Eddie performs regularly in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. He has also performed live on WRR-Classical 101.1. He traveled to Spain in 2008 for a series of concerts and twice to Mexico in 2009 to perform at the 19th Annual International Guitar Festival of Morelia and the 4th Festival Internacional de Guitarra Ramón Noble. He has appeared on national television and radio programs in Hidalgo, Mexico. Healy returned to Spain in 2014 & 2016 on the faculty of the annual ChamberArt Madrid Festival and as one half of his duo with mezzo-soprano, Brandi Estwick.
He is the Coordinator of Guitar and Music Theory Studies at Eastfield College in Mesquite, TX. He also teaches at The University of Texas at Dallas and the Gray School of Music. Eddie is the director of the Brookhaven-Allegro Guitar Orchestra, a community guitar ensemble in Dallas that meets and performs regularly at Brookhaven College. He has served as the assistant festival director at the Texas International Guitar Competition/Festival since 2010 and is director of that festival’s youth competition. In 2016 he was named the Director of Education at the Annual "Classical Minds" Guitar Festival and Competition.
His original compositions have been performed all over the world. He has composed the theme to a series of podcasts produced by UTD titled “A Conversation With…”, scores for several video games, and the alma mater for Rogers Middle School in Prosper, Texas. In 2012 Healy released a CD consisting exclusively of his compositions titled, Direction. James Scott of minor7th.com said that the recording, “…is a triumph, offering the listener accessible compositions matched by immaculate performances.” He published the sheet music for several of the compositions from Direction with Joachim-Trekel of Hamburg, Germany in 2010 and has six publications with Les Productions d’OZ to date. Eddie is a member of ASCAP.
Having lived in Ghana for almost 15 years, award-winning guitarist Jordan Taylor has developed a distinct taste for music of all cultures. He began his guitar studies with internationally acclaimed guitarist Valérie Hartzell, whose tutelage guided Jordan onto the international stage. He has studied in master classes and in private lessons with such luminaries as David Russell, Eliot Fisk, Jason Vieaux, SoloDuo and Pepe Romero.
Jordan is a ten-time prize winner in competitions across the United States including: The Music Academy of North Carolina Guitar Festival and Competition, the McCauley Chamber Music Competition, the University of Southern Mississippi Guitar Competition, Southern Guitar Festival International Competition, and the “Classical Minds” International Guitar Competition. In 2016 Jordan was invited to perform as a finalist in the prestigious Kate Neal Kinley Fellowship at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Jordan received his Bachelors of Music Performance with a minor in Audio Technology from Columbus State University, Schwob School of Music under the direction of Dr. Andrew Zohn and Dr. Matthew McCabe respectively. He received his Master’s in Music from the University of Louisville with Dr. Stephen Mattinlgy, where he received the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Outstanding Professional Achievement. Jordan currently holds a full teaching assistantship at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music where he is pursuing his Doctorate with Julian Gray.
In 2014 Jordan self-released his debut album “Sketches”. Recorded in Legacy Hall, this album includes works by Weiss, Bach, Bennett, Legnani, and the title composition “Sketches of a Memory” for guitar and electronics by Jordan.
Along with an active performance schedule Jordan is also involved in the recording industry. He was tracking engineer of the CSU trombone ensemble recording “A Beautiful Noise” released in 2014 through Summit Records. This album was a three-year project that featured guest soloists such as Charlie Vernon, James Markey, and Joseph Alessi. Most recently Jordan was the mixing engineer for the Sony Music recording “Angeline” by international star Justin Miller.
Jordan is the creator and director of the Ghana National Music Festival in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. The GNMF is not only Ghana’s first classical music festival but also the first ever long-term collaboration in classical music between Ghana and the United States. With a purpose of both promoting the arts within Ghana’s youth population and cultivating international collaboration, the GNMF has sparked the flames of a revolution in Ghana’s classical music culture and is setting the stage for artistic exchange between the two countries.
Jeremy Garcia is a classically trained guitarist who has made a successful transition to flamenco. Originally self-taught, Jeremy later earned a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi with Philip Hii and Master’s Degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where he studied with Robert Guthrie.
Jeremy gave his professional debut classical recital on March 26, 1999 at the Texas A&M University campus in Corpus Christi, TX which was televised on Corpus Christi’s ABC channel. In 2001, while preparing for a concert at the University of Houston, Clear Lake, Jeremy began working with other musicians creating his own music. Drawing from his classical studies, and love for the music of Spain and Latin America, Jeremy developed original works based in improvisation and a marked flamenco influence. As the co-founder of the Garcia y Reyna, Jeremy has performed in California, New Mexico, New York City, the Vail, Colorado International Dance Festival, and Las Vegas. The band also released a CD, "Baile del Sol," in 2004 featuring all original music.
As a soloist, Jeremy has appeared with the Fort Bend Symphony in a performance of Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” in the fall of 2006. He was asked by conductor, John Ricarte, to perform the Aranjuez a second time with the Brazosport Symphony in the spring of 2007. On the same concert, Jeremy performed an original concerto that he co-composed for two guitars and orchestra – “Concierto Nuevo Flamenco.”
In the fall of 2007, Jeremy established Café Khytaro, a new musical project and in the spring of 2008, Café Khytaro released “Distancia,” featuring original music and a variety of guest artists. In addition to his own music, Jeremy has appeared as a guest artist on recordings in the following genres: classical, alternative rock, jazz, and R&B. It is his love and respect of the music of Spain, however, and especially the art of flamenco that led Jeremy to traditional flamenco music. It was here that Jeremy met and began working with Cantaora, Irma La Paloma. Their ability to collaborate on stage, combined with a similar philosophy in the study and approach to flamenco, led them to create Solero Flamenco in 2009. They perform regularly in a variety of venues in the Houston area and have appeared as guest performers in the Dallas Flamenco Festival where they collaborated with some of today’s top flamenco artists. In the flamenco setting, Jeremy is known as, "Jeremias el Valiente."
Since his flamenco career began, Jeremy has performed with many top artists including, Antonio Hidalgo, Pilar Andújar, Antonio Arrebola, Chayito Champion, has accompanied workshops of artists, La Tania, Domingo Ortega, and Omayra Amaya.
Along with Irma La Paloma, the two have founded and direct the Houston Spanish and Flamenco Festival. This unique festival, founded in 2011, emphasizes Art, Education, and Culture through the collaboration of Solero Flamenco, San Jacinto College and the Consul General of Spain in Houston.
Presently, he resides in Houston where he directs the guitar program at San Jacinto College South while maintaining a busy performance schedule.
Andrea Cannon is a performer proficient in classical and jazz guitar. An alumna of Berklee College of Music, she studied Jazz Guitar Performance and also received an Outstanding Alumni Service award. Post-Collegiate studies include Applied Performance in Classical Guitar with Robert Guthrie of Southern Methodist University.
Andrea directs applied guitar studies at Lone Star College - North Harris, Guitar Arts Pre-Collegiate Studio in Houston and is a jazz consultant to Spring Texas School District. Student recognition includes classical performance awards in competitions through MTNA, Eastfield College, University of Texas/Dallas, the Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Festival, Houston Young Artist Concerts and the Guitar Foundation of America Ensemble Showcase. Jazz Students have been selected to Region Jazz Ensemble and showcased twice at Midwest Clinic.
Andrea travels internationally as a clinician and performer in Europe, Central and South America as well as cities all around the US and Canada. She has articles published in the American Suzuki Journal, Soundboard and American Music Teacher. Andrea is Certified through the Music Teacher's National Association and is a Registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association.
Andrea is humbled and proud that arts advocacy group Alarte of Guatemala City, Guatemala has created a Scholarship in her name. The first recipient of the 'Beca Andrea Cannon' is enjoying the benefits of a new guitar as well as expert Suzuki instruction.
Leonardo Garcia is a Music Educator who currently resides in the Houston area. Mr. Garcia leads the guitar program at The Connection School of Houston in Cypress, Texas which has recently received a #1 rating for their debut performance in the 8th Annual HISD Guitar Festival.
Leonardo has earned his Masters Degree in Guitar Performance from Southern Methodist University under the tutelage of Robert Guthrie and a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from The University of Texas at Brownsville under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Quantz.
Leonardo has won numerous prizes in competitions during his academic career which have included the 2nd Annual UTB/TSC Concerto Competition (1st place), the 10th Annual UTB Guitar Ensemble Competition (Guitar Quartet, 1st place), the 1st Annual "Classical Minds" Guitar Competition (Open Division, 2nd place), the 5th Annual Eastfield Collegiate Guitar Competition (2nd place), the 4th Annual UTPA Guitar Competition (3rd place), and was a semi-finalist in the Alhambra International Guitar Competition.
Mr. Garcia has also had the honor of serving as an Adjudicator for the Cypress Creek Music Teachers Association Solo and Ensemble Competition in 2017 and as the Conductor to the Guitar Orchestra at the "Classical Minds" International Guitar Festival and Competition in 2018.