Benefit for festival founder
Friends sound positive note for guitarist fighting brain cancer. By Tom Knapp, Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Ernesto Tamayo has devoted his life to the study, mastery and proliferation of classical guitar.
Now battling brain cancer in a Washington, D.C., hospital, Tamayo is getting help in return from the music community on a local and global scale.
The Lancaster International Guitar Festival & Competition, which Tamayo founded four years ago, has been put on hold this year, making way instead for a smaller, more personal Lancaster Guitar Festival in Tamayo's honor.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. March 23 at the Ware Center, Millersville University Lancaster, 42 N. Prince St.
"We're getting some people who are friends of his and who are nationally and internationally known," says guitarist and program coordinator Marcia Englar.
The headliner, Englar says, is Ana Vidovic, who performed at the festival last year. Other performers include Allen Krantz and David Cullen, plus two of Tamayo's former students, Paul Morton and Matthew Bacon.
Some of Tamayo's friends and colleagues will talk a bit "about what he has meant to them as well as the guitar community," Englar says.
"The other part that's going to be very exciting -- and I know this will bring a smile to Ernesto's face -- is the collaborative presentation at the end."
Soloists will be joined on stage by a group of Tamayo's students and former students, as well as others from the area who play classical guitar, to perform as a one-off ensemble known as the Lancaster Guitar Orchestra, she says.
"I don't know yet exactly who all is going to be playing," Englar says. "But there will be at least 50 guitars."
According to an account set up in Tamayo's name at the fundraising website GiveForward.com, the guitarist was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Following surgery in January, Tamayo has been participating in physical and occupational therapy while recovering at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Caroline Morton, who is co-chairing the event with Ware Center director Harvey Owen, says proceeds will go toward Tamayo's medical bills.
"It was really through his organization and inspiration that Lancaster has a guitar festival," Morton says.
"Last year, we had performers from around the world. And we hope that next year, the competition aspect of the festival will return to Lancaster."
The event this year will celebrate "not only his extraordinary gifts as a classical guitarist, artist and composer ... but also the great many young musicians he's inspired," Morton says. "We hope this festival will show him our appreciation in Lancaster, and also give him some encouragement."
Organizers of the event hope he can attend the March 23 concert.
"We probably won't know until closer to the event," Morton says.
"We're very much hoping he can be there," Englar says. "It's going to depend on his condition."
Tamayo, a native Cuban and graduate of Havana University, began studying guitar with his father at age 5. He defected to the United States in 1995 and earned a graduate degree from the prestigious Peabody Institute in Baltimore.
He's recorded several CDs and has been performing more than 80 concerts a year worldwide. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1999, playing to a sold-out crowd.
For years, he taught at the former Pennsylvania Academy of Music in Lancaster, commuting from his home in Burtonsville, Md. After PAM closed its doors, he founded the Lancaster Classical Guitar Institute at the same location, now the Ware Center.
Also known as a composer and conductor, he has performed and recorded several of his compositions with Lancaster Symphony Orchestra.
"We hope this will be a wonderful event," Morton says, "continuing the tradition of the classical guitar in Lancaster."n