Valparaiso University will host the 20th annual Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival, taking place March 23-25, 2012. Guest artists for this year’s festival are the Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) and Shingo Fujii, one of the leading composers and classical guitarists in Japan.

The LAGQ will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24 in the Chapel of the Resurrection on the Valparaiso University campus. The public is invited to attend and may purchase tickets in advance by calling the box office at 219-464-5162.

In addition to its concert Saturday night, the LAGQ will join the festival orchestra, comprised of 230 student participants, to perform Fujii’s new work, “Shiki: Seasons of Japan,” which was written in dedication to the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Conducted by Fujii, the event will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy and will serve as a dramatic finale to the festival weekend.

“The Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival provides a unique opportunity for guitar students to collaborate with their peers, get inspired and educated from the masters of the instrument, and provide the public with a truly great concert experience,” said Jim Konsbruck, festival director. “This year, the added element of bringing a noted guitar composer from Japan to the festival, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, will certainly serve to enhance the cultural attractiveness of the event.”

More than 230 students representing 20 colleges and universities from six states will be taking part in the three-day festival. Throughout the weekend, students will have the opportunity to participate in various master classes and clinics, such as a technique clinic with Scott Tennant, author of the popular book on guitar technique, “Pumping Nylon,” as well as a member of the LAGQ, and a jazz guitar clinic with Matthew Greif, also a member of the LAGQ.

Additional highlights of the 2012 Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival include:
* Ensemble master classes with LAGQ members William Kanengiser and John Dearman
* An ensemble conducting clinic for school directors with Fujii
* Concertomaggio, concerto for two guitars and string orchestra by Roland Dyens, performed by the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Guitar Duo, consisting of Jim Konsbruck, guitar instructor at Valparaiso University, and Wes Hixson, guitar instructor at Elmhurst College

All festival concerts are open to the public, while master classes, clinics, and the orchestra are open to festival participants only. A full schedule of events is available at valpo.edu/guitarfest.

The Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival was established in 1991 in an effort to foster camaraderie and pedagogical exchanges between classical guitar teachers and students, to provide performance and learning opportunities for student ensembles, and to contribute to the overall artistic and cultural enrichment of its audiences. The festival has also worked to increase the ensemble repertoire through the commissioning of new works for the festival orchestra.

The first festival took place at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., and has since been held at schools such as Bradley University, Elmhurst College, Illinois State University, Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, and Webster University.

For more information on the 20th Annual Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival, visit valpo.edu/guitarfest or contact Jim Konsbruck at jim.konsbruck@valpo.edu or (773) 206-4108.

About Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,000 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 22 years. Valparaiso University offers 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and Nursing. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a School of Law and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Education Division. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness, and dedication to serving others.

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