Founded in 1974, the Classical Guitar Society of Calgary has become a central institution in our fine arts community. Hosting concerts and master classes from some of the world’s most respected guitarists, they offer an avenue for local musicians to meet and refine their craft.
On top of the concerts and other events they put together, the organization meets on the third Friday of each month to perform and discuss in an informal, friendly setting. These meetings are open to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of skill level. Each year, they also have a showcase event, featuring four students from post-secondary guitar programs.
Kat Hammer, who has been a member since she was 16, has served as the Society’s president for the last two years. Like many before her, Hammer came to love the classical guitar tradition almost by accident. “I was a full-blown metalhead,” Hammer says, until one Saturday morning when she went to buy guitar strings and the clerk turned her on to an upcoming performance by Canadian guitar legend Norbert Kraft.
Although meetings are informal and the members have such diverse interests, the Society ensures its events are amongst the finest classical music experiences one can find and they have gained an excellent international reputation. According to Hammer, the CGSC receives a plethora of submissions from artists who want to play in Calgary, giving them flexibility to choose who they book. They’re also closely affiliated with other Classical Guitar Societies across Western Canada and these places are often able to coordinate performance dates with one another to make the performer’s travels easier. Perhaps most important to local enthusiasts is the Society’s common practice of booking those highly renowned performers to offer a master class the day following each concert, where four guitar students from Calgary receive one-on-one instruction in front of an audience.
Although these are well attended, Hammer thinks fine arts events in Calgary could have better turnouts. “There’s a ton of stuff going on,” she says, “[but] it’s not always well publicized.” Despite this hurdle, the CGSC has been a revered institution for nearly four decades and isn’t going to fade away anytime soon. We’ll all be keeping an eye out for more.
The Classical Guitar Society’s next event is a performance by William Kanengiser at Mount Royal University’s Leacock Theatre on Saturday, February 26. Tickets are $25, or $15 for students and seniors.
By John JuliusAB, Alberta