Guitar Society of Toronto

Guitar Society of Toronto. Formed in 1956 to 'foster understanding, appreciation and the study of the guitar.

Guitar Society of Toronto

Guitar Society of Toronto. Formed in 1956 to 'foster understanding, appreciation and the study of the guitar.' The society has met privately on a monthly basis and also has sponsored public recitals by leading guitarists, beginning with an appearance by Rey de la Torre 8 Jan 1958 at Eaton Auditorium. Later concerts included the Toronto debuts of Julian Bream, Alirio Diaz, Oscar Ghiglia, Alexander Lagoya, Turibio Santos, David Russell, Carlos Barbosa Lima, Jorge Morel, The Amadeus Guitar Duo of Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchoff, Celso Machado, John Holmquist, Elena Papandreou, and others. Jazz concerts have been given under the society's auspices by Lenny Breau and Charlie Byrd; folk and flamenco artists also have performed, and student concerts have been given by Dan Beckerman, the young Liona Boyd, Lynne Gangbar, and others. These concerts continued in 1990 to be part of the society's annual activities. It also organized five triennial international guitar festivals at the University of Toronto, beginning with Guitar '75, which brought together an average of 500 performers and students from various parts of the world for concerts, workshops, master classes, and competitions. A 'Quest for New Music' started with Guitar '78, and in that first year drew 75 entries in a composition competition. Canadian award winners were Charles Camilleri, Tomas Dusatko, and Douglas Jamieson. In all, more than 70 new compositions (many of them commissioned from national and international composers) were premiered during the five festivals, including works by Milton Barnes, John Hawkins, R. Murray Schafer and concertos by Harry Somers and Guido Santarsolo, both in 1984, and by Leo Brouwer in 1987. Previously the society had commissioned Somers' Sonata for Guitar, premiered by Peter Acker in 1964. The society also sponsors a national guitar performance competition, won by Richard Bradley in 1986, and by Patrick Roux in 1989. The society publishes a Bulletin, variously titled, which is issued six times a year September-May; it also published 1986-9 eight issues of a national journal, Guitar Canada. The society was given the Bertram Atkins Library, collected by the Toronto banker and classical guitarist of that name, and has expanded it to include tapes of performances as well as guitar, lute, and related music. The library is held at the Eli Kassner Guitar Academy. The society offers a scholarship named in memory of one of its founders, Ken Young. The fund also provides two annual scholarships for guitar students at the University of Toronto and has been used for the commissioning of new guitar music.


Further Reading

  • Kassner, Eli. 'The Guitar Society of Toronto: a personal history,' Guitar Canada, vol 2, Spring 1989