New York Guitar Festival – A Thrilling Musical Gem For You!

New York Guitar Festival - 2013 Promotional poster
Promotional Poster 2013

In this New York Guitar Festival review, I tell you everything you want to know about this fabulous festival that typically happens once a year at a particular location in New York.

As a yearly endeavor, this uniquely genre-defying event literally transcends how the guitar is typically envisioned in classical, modern, and popular music.

This festival is a must-see for any fan of guitar-based music and guitarists alike. Read on to see what this organization is all about.

What Is The New York Guitar Festival? 

New York Guitar Festival - 2016 Festival Poster
A 2016 Festival Poster

The New York Guitar Festival (NYGF) is an event that essentially covers every aspect of guitar music and the performers that have helped shaped what we hear around the world.

Founded in 1999, It has showcased everything from the psychedelic music of Jimi Hendrix (see Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – The Killer Guitar Players!) to the classic repertoire of Christopher Parkening and anything in-between.

Over the years, festivals have been held at various venues, including the prestigious Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, and the Apple Store in SoHo.

New York Guitar Festival Background

New York Guitar Festival - Logo

The New York Guitar Festival organization was founded by author and radio host John Schaefer and musician, producer, and curator David Spellman. David has also served as the Festival’s artistic director.

Musical events have been primarily New York-based, although “sister” festivals have taken place in other cities of the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. The sister festivals include ELLNORA, The Guitar Festival, and The Adelaide International Guitar Festival.

Presentations have evolved over the years to include multi-genre concerts, radio broadcasts, and a YouTube channel that offers online performances and highlights coming events.

Festivals have hosted everyone from Grammy-winning artists to emerging talent.

The New York Guitar Festival has supported a variety of musical outreach programs in public schools and has commissioned new works with innovative collaborations among outstanding new artists.

Past Festival Performers From 1999 To Present

This year (2021) celebrated the works of Julian Bream. He was a four-time Grammy-winning classical guitarist and lutenist. Julian was honored by an online program, due to COVID-19 concerns, entitled “Remembering Julian Bream, which ran daily from July14-20.

Works were commissioned from guitarists, lutenists, and composers, including Sharon Isbin, Leo Brouwer, Pepe Romero, and Laura Snowden.

Classical performances from past 16th through 20th- century composers included Heitor Villa-Lobos, Enrique Granados, Francisco Tarrega, Mauro Giulliani, and John Dowland.

This year’s program schedule was presented on youtube as follows:

July 14:  Sharon Isbin, Pepe Romero, Pablo Sáinz Villegas

July 15:  Jason Vieaux, David Leisner, William Kanengiser

July 16: Derek Gripper, Amadeus Guitar, Paul Odette

July 17:  Eliot Fisk, Hopkinson Smith, Marija Temo

July 18: Jozef van Wissem, Alberta Khoury, Tengue Zhang

July 19:  Benjamin Verdery, Jiji, Gyan Riley

July 20: Adam Del Monte, Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo, Laura Snowden

Here is a video from the New York Guitar Festival entitled “Remembering Julian Bream.”

These are the previous New York Guitar Festival performers. What an incredible lineup over the years! If you are looking for a particular artist, use the “find” function on your computer (control-f or command-f).

Rez Abbasi • Ben Allison • Alsarah and the Nubatones• Joseph Arthur • Badi Assad • The Assad Duo • Nicole Atkins •  Sheryl Bailey • Jeff Ballard • Pierre Bensusan • Will Bernard • Rafiq Bhatia • Krishna
Bhatt • Debashish Bhattacharya • Victor Biglione • Rory Block • Oren Bloedow • Zubot + Dawson • Ronn McFarlane • Bill McHenry

Steve Cardenas • Dylan Carlson • Cindy Cashdollar • Knox Chandler • Jen
Chapin Trio • Chocolate Genius Inc. • Keba Cissoko • Gerald Cleaver • Nels
Cline • Coco Mamas • Scott Colley • Larry Coryell • Yamandu Costa • William
Coulter • Marshall Crenshaw • David Cullen • Colin Davin • Dominic John
Davis • Alex de Grassi

Fantastic Negrito • The Ferdinandos • Howard Fishman • Eliot
Fisk • Dom Flemons • Pino Forastiere • Ruthie Foster • Dominic Frasca • Bill
Frisell • Fred Frith • Kevin Gallagher • Jacob Garchik • Buke & Gase • Ed
Gerhard • A.J. Ghent • Ralph Gibson • David Gilmore • Margaret Glaspy • Mick
Goodrick • Mike Gordon •

Roy Book Binder • Kevin Breit • Anouar Brahem Trio • Brasil Guitar Duo •
Brazilian Guitar Quartet • Matt Brewer • David Bromberg • Bob Brozman •
Jorge Cabellero • Califone • Jim Campilongo • Campbell Brothers • Larry
Campbell • California Guitar Trio • Laura Cantrell

Bryce Dessner • Mamadou Diabate • Abdoulaye Diabate
•Jon Diaz • Luther Dickinson • DJ Rekha • DJ Spooky • Russell Donnellon • Trevor Dunn •
Duo Siquieria/Lima • Roland Dyens • Mark Eitzel • Chris Eldridge • Liberty
Ellman Trio • EMA • Banning Eyre • Tengyue Zhang

Goran Ivanovic + Fareed Haque Duo • Stephen
Griesgraber • Derek Gripper • Binky Griptite •  Steve Gunn • Mary Halvorsen • John Hammond •
Knut Hamre • The Harlem Quartet • Emmlyou Harris • Jesse Harris & Joel
Harrison • Alvin Youngblood Hart • Vinicius Cantuaria

Ernie Hawkins • Gilad Hekselman • Levon
Helm • Megan Hickey • Patrick Higgins • Jolie Holland • James Hurt • Jason
Isbell • Sharon Isbin • Itsnotyouitsme • Vijay Iyer • Stevie Jackson Daniel James • Glenn Jones • Richard Julian • Valerie June • Vic Juris

Sonny Landreth • Daniel Lanois • Patty Larkin • Jim
Lauderdale • Ismail Lawal • Greg Leisz • Lionheart • Little Toby Walker •
Romero Lubambo • Gary Lucas • Virginia Luque • Russell Malone • Michael
Manring • Harry Manx • Martha Masters

Miles Okazaki •
Ollabelle • Christopher Parkening • Jeff Parker • The Persuasions •
Ben Perowsky • Kelly Joe Phelps • Anthony Pirog • Bucky Pizzarelli • Chris
Potter • Rachael & Vilray Lee Ranaldo • Toshi Reagon • Redhooker • Vernon Reid

Henry Kaiser • William Kanengiser • Kaia Kater • Dale Kavanagh • Jorma Kaukonen • Lenny
Kaye • Alberta Khoury • Amythyst Kiah • Kid Millions • Steve Kimock • Kevn Kinney • Kaki
King • King Wilkie • Dennis Koster • Leo Kottke • Sergio Krakowski • Andre
LaFosse • Julian Lage • Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn

John Medeski •
Ava Mendoza • Camila Meza • Ben Monder • Thurston Moore • Bill
Morrissey • David Mozqueda • Wolfgang Muthspiel • My Brightest Diamond • The
National • Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo • New World Guitar Trio • Michael
Nicolella • Jimmy Norman • Nigel North • Noveller • Paul O’Dette

Fabi Reyna • Tony Rice • Marc Ribot • Gyan Riley • Terry Riley Adam Rogers • Pepe Romero • Brandon Ross • Peter Rowan • Pietro Russino •
Jacob Sacks • Sap Dream Electric Guitar Quartet • Julia Sarr & Patrice
LaRose • Mike Seeger • Emanuele Segre • Sex Mob • Connie Sheu • Anupam Shobhakar • Simon Shaheen

Elliott Sharp • Michelle Shocked • Brad Shepik •
Connie Sheu • Bill Sims Jr. • Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder • GE Smith •
Hopkinson Smith • Tyshawn Sorey • Tim Sparks • Bruce Springsteen • David
Starobin • Leni Stern • Mark Stewart • Marty Stuart • Andy Summers • John Renbourn

Taj Mahal •
Stomu Takeishi • Otis Taylor • Marija Temo • Teddy Thompson • Steve
Tibbetts • Tin Hat Trio • David Torn • Artie Traum • Tony Trischka • Dave
Tronzo • Toubab Krewe • Turtle Island String Quartet • Twi the Humble
Feather • William Tyler

Benjamin Verdery • Ana Vidovic • Jason Vieaux •
Frank Vignola • Martha Wainwright • Ryley Walker • Trixie Whitley • Keller
Williams • Jontavious Willis • George Winston • Jim Woodring • Min Xiao-Fen • Yale Guitar
Orchestra • Brandee Younger • Dan Zanes • Fabio Zanon

Past New York Guitar Festival Sponsors

New York Guitar Festival – A Sponsor Logo

Here are some of the organizations that have been instrumental in the success of the New York Guitar Festival over the years.

J. D’Addario & Company, The John & Joan D’Addario Foundation, Apple, The Augustine Foundation, ArtsBrookfield, WNYC – New York Public Radio, Brooklyn Brewery, WFUV, 90.5 The Night,, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Guitar Player, Relix, Flavorpill, JamBase, Guitar Center, Avalon Guitars, Marshall, Korg, Vox.>

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

The New York Guitar Festival organization was established in 1992 by John Schaefer and David Spellman. It is devoted to “exploring virtually every aspect of the guitar’s personality” by focusing on its music and artists throughout all cultural aspects of world civilization, both historical and modern.

This organization has helped introduce children to guitar music and instruction. In addition, it has honored numerous famous guitarists and helped promising up-and-coming players.

One of the overarching goals of the NYGF is to help increase every facet of our enjoyment of the guitar and to help bring it to the attention of those that are not familiar with its contributions and potential.

Numerous corporations have sponsored NYGF, allowing it to continue its outstanding work over the years and it has produced some of the best NYC festivals to date.

I strongly recommend you visit their website regularly for the latest news. Also, be sure to make their guitar festivals something to look forward to every year.

A rock band of figures made from nuts and bolts.

Tell Me What You Think 

Would you please let me know what’s on your mind in the comment section or if there is anything I can help you with?

  • Have you heard of the New York Guitar Festival before reading this article?
  • Have you seen an NYGF production in the past? Which one? Did you enjoy it?
  • Are there any guitar players that you would like to see perform at an NYGF? Which one(s)?
  • What other NYC music festivals have you been to?

About Frank

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4 thoughts on “New York Guitar Festival – A Thrilling Musical Gem For You!”

  1. This is a great article and thank you for sharing about the history and also latest program for the New York Guitar Festival. The festival will suit the multicultural nature of New York City. I was actually living in New York for 3,5 years and left early 2021. I will definitely share this article with my friends in New York. Great article and thanks for sharing!

    • Hi, David

      Thank You for your comments!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. If you ever make it back to New York City, maybe you can catch a New York Guitar Festival performance. There are so many cultural opportunities in NYC that it’s mind-boggling!

      Please come back and revisit my website! 😊🎸


  2. Thanks for sharing your review of the New York Guitar Festival. It definitely sounds like anyone who loves playing guitar or just a music lover in general would enjoy this festival. It might be a bit hard for some to attend, since it only happens at one location, once a year, but it seems like it would be worth it to go at least once.

    • Hi, Rachel

      Thank You for your comments!

      Yes, it can be challenging to attend f you don’t live in New York or don’t happen to be there when the festival is running. You should check your area to see if there is a music festival that might interest you.



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