The reasoning behind the University of Colorado Denver’s Guitar Festival is explained simply by Assistant Professor of Music Performance Sean McGowan, DMA. “Everybody loves guitar,” he said.

McGowan is the guitar program director in the College of Arts & Media and an award-winning guitarist. This is his third time coordinating the festival which runs from April 3-5. “We have seven faculty members in the guitar department, making CU Denver’s guitar department the largest in the region and one of the largest in the country. At the beginning, the festival was a way to highlight their talents.”

While the faculty performance on opening night is expected to be a highlight of the overall program, the addition of visiting artists has expanded the vision of the event. Students, faculty, staff and the general public are welcome to participate in all workshops and to attend all performances to learn from top musicians.

“First, for the students, it’s our obligation to expose them to great artists and educate them through great music. For the public, for music lovers, we are offering workshops and performances by artists they won’t see anywhere else,” said McGowan.

The diversity of the CU Denver guitar program is reflected in the Guitar Festival

McGowan points to participants who include Grammy nominee and acoustic guitar innovator Alex de Grassi and American jazz duo Tuck & Patti who will be back in Colorado for the first time in years.

Tuck Andress is recognized as the best fingerstyle guitarist in the world. His wife, Patti Cathcart Andress, is a top jazz vocalist. The two are celebrating 35 years performing together and both will be presenting workshops on Friday afternoon, April 5.

McGowan said all the workshops will offer an incredible opportunity to learn from the best, but he expects Patti’s session on vocal improvisation and the creative process to “blow the roof off. For vocalists, her presentation will be a life-changing experience.”

The three nights include a range of performances.  CU Denver faculty along with composer and jazz guitarist, Paul Clarke Meyers start it off on Wednesday, April 3. De Grassi follows on April 4 with an acoustic accompaniment to a 1934 Japanese silent film. Then Tuck & Patti perform music ranging from classic jazz standards to Jimi Hendrix on Friday night April 5.

April just happens to be International Guitar Month, so McGowan said the scheduling couldn’t be better. “The guitar is arguably the most popular instrument in the world and it’s found in every style of music. Our Guitar Festival reflects that because it isn’t limited to a specific genre. The audience is exposed to a diverse palette of art.”

Guitar Festival is presented by CU Denver Live! All workshops and performances will be presented in the King Center on the Auraria Campus.

  • Tickets are required for all events.
  • Workshop tickets are free to any student with a school ID, and $10 for general admission. They are available the day of the event at the King Center box office.
  • Performance tickets are available online or by phone through the King Center box office, 303-556-2296. Prices range from $5- $12.
  • Free parking is available in the Seventh Street Garage with ticket stub.


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