Parkening International Guitar Competition Announces Judges for 2009 Competition

October 14, 2008

Representing different areas of the classical music world, the five judges are Nancy Allen, principal harpist with the New York Philharmonic; Manuel Barrueco, world-famous guitar virtuoso; Stephanie L. Challener, publisher of Musical America Worldwide; Thomas Frost, Grammy Award-winning record producer; and Costa Pilavachi, former president of EMI Classics.

The competition, which debuted in 2006, offers the largest prize purse of any classical guitar competition in the world, with competitors vying for cash awards in excess of US$65,000. The gold medalist wins the Stotsenberg Prize of US$30,000.

The panel will judge 15 competitors, three of whom will advance to the final round to perform a concerto before a live audience with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The gold, silver, and bronze medalists will be announced at the conclusion of the final round.

The Parkening Competition honors classical guitarist Christopher Parkening's lifetime commitment to fostering musical excellence in young artists as demonstrated by his mentor, the great Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia. Parkening serves as Distinguished Professor of Music at Pepperdine.

"We feel that, for a competition of this magnitude, it is important to assemble a distinguished panel of judges representing the highest levels of achievement in their respective fields," said Parkening. "I know that they will be looking for a standard of excellence from the finalists which will have the winner well prepared for a successful career."

In addition to the Parkening International Guitar Competition, on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 26 and 27, 2009, the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition will be held at Pepperdine. This two-day event will help to identify outstanding young guitarists and encourage them to continue their performance careers and studies.

Pablo Sainz Villegas, the gold medalist of the 2006 Parkening Competition, has emerged as one of the world's leading classical guitarists. Upcoming appearances include his New York Philharmonic debut with four performances at Avery Fisher Hall; his first appearance with the Houston Symphony Orchestra; performances as soloist with orchestra at the Musikverein in Vienna and the National Radio and Television Orchestra of Spain; a tour with the Israel Philharmonic; and recitals in Russia, Spain, and across the U.S.

The 2009 Parkening Competition is made possible by generous grants from Howard and Roberta Ahmanson and Manny and Juanita Del Arroz.

Applications, more information about competition requirements and judging, and the competition schedule are available at

Biographies of the Judges

Hailed by The New York Times as "a major artist" following her 1975 New York recital debut, Nancy Allen joined the New York Philharmonic in 1999 as Principal Harpist. She maintains a busy international concert schedule as well as heading the harp departments of the Juilliard School, Yale School of Music, and Aspen Music Festival and School. Additionally, Allen appears regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In May 2000 she was featured in the Philharmonic's United States premiere of Siegfried Matthus' Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra with music director Kurt Masur and principal flutist Robert Langevin. Allen's busy performing schedule includes solo appearances at major international festivals and has featured collaborations with soprano Kathleen Battle, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and flutist Carol Wincenc. Allen has appeared on PBS' Live from Lincoln Center with the Chamber Music Society, and she performed as a recitalist for "Music at the Supreme Court" in Washington, DC. Her recording of Ravel's Introduction and Allegro with the Tokyo Quartet, flutist Ransom Wilson, and clarinetist David Shifrin received a Grammy Award nomination; she can also be heard on Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, and CRI. In 1972 she studied with Lily Laskine in Paris and also entered the Juilliard School to study with Marcel Grandjany. She won the Fifth International Harp Competition in Israel in 1973 and was later awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Award. Allen has been a teacher for more than 20 years and her students hold positions in prominent orchestras around the world.

Manuel Barrueco is internationally recognized as one of the most important guitarists of our time. For three decades he has dedicated his career to bringing the guitar to the main musical centers of the world. He has performed across the United States, from Miami with the New World Symphony to the Seattle Symphony and from the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to New York's Lincoln Center. He has appeared with such prestigious orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony, the latter under the direction of Seiji Ozawa in the American premiere of Takemitsu's To the Edge of Dream. He appears regularly with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and with San Francisco Performances. His international tours have taken him to Royal Albert Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Berlin, Teatro Real in Madrid, and Palau de la Musica in Barcelona. In Asia he has completed nearly a dozen tours of Japan and made repeated appearances in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. His tours of Latin America have included performances in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. He has also performed as a guest soloist with other international orchestras, such as the Russian State Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, Auckland Symphony, and the radio symphonies of Munich and Frankfurt. His latest release, Concierto Barroco with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia and conductor Victor Pablo Perez, received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Classical Recording. Barrueco has appeared on a wide array of American television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, A&E's Breakfast with the Arts, and PBS' Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. His work in music also inspired Michael Lawrence's biographical documentary Manuel Barrueco: A Gift and a Life, which has been aired on PBS. Barrueco began playing the guitar at age eight and attended the Esteban Salas Conservatory in his native Cuba. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1967 as political refugees. Later he completed his advanced studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he now teaches.

Since 1993 Stephanie Challener has been an integral and key player at Musical America Worldwide, producer of the leading directory of the international performing arts, and has acted as its publisher since 2001. Musical America has long been referred to as the "bible" of the international performing arts and is known as an essential resource for those involved in the management and hiring of performing artists around the world. Throughout her 15 years with the company, Challener has been instrumental in the creation of a number of products serving the music industry. Among these are and the company's weekly e-newsletter which, in addition to directory services, provides in-depth and original performing arts news stories contributed by well-respected journalists from around the world. In 2002's contribution to the arts was recognized with the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Broadcast Award for Excellence. Throughout her tenure at Musical America, Challener has been fortunate to be able to promote several of her personal interests and passions: recognition of young artists has returned to the pages of the directory, international coverage has expanded, an "accompanist of the year" and two "educators of the year" have been honored, and recognition of outstanding women in the arts has grown significantly. Challener received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a minor in French from the College of Wooster (Wooster, OH) and her Master of Music degree in Accompanying and Coaching from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where she was a student of Glenn Parker as well as Dalton Baldwin and Martin Katz.

Independent record producer Thomas Frost is currently working with Arcadi Volodos and Hilary Hahn for Sony Classical and Deutsche Grammophon. From 1989 to 2001 he was senior executive producer for Sony Classical, producing recordings by Claudio Abbado, Martha Argerich, Kathleen Battle, Placido Domingo, James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, and Itzhak Perlman, among other major artists on that label. He produced the recordings of Vladimir Horowitz from 1963 to 1973 and from 1985 to 1989 for CBS Masterworks, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony Classical. In the 1980s, as an independent producer for a variety of labels, he worked with Charles Dutoit, the Emerson Quartet, Gidon Kremer, and the Kronos Quartet. As producer and director of Columbia Masterworks in the 1960s and 1970s, he produced the recordings of Leon Fleisher, Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, George Szell, and Bruno Walter. Frost, also a professional violinist, studied composition with Paul Hindemith and serves as a board member of the Charles Ives Society, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Recommendation Board of the Avery Fisher Prize. Frost served as a juror for the inaugural Parkening International Guitar Competition as well as for the 2001 and 2005 Van Cliburn Piano Competitions and the 2008 Tureck International Piano Competition. He is the recipient of three Gold Record Awards and seven Grammy Awards.

Costa Pilavachi is former president of EMI Classics, a division of EMI Music and one of the world's leading classical music labels. After working in a variety of music-related jobs in Canada, including director of music at the St. Lawrence Centre for Arts in Toronto and director of music at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Pilavachi joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as artistic administrator in 1985. Four years later he joined Philips Classics as vice president of the label's A&R department and was promoted to president of Philips Music Group in 1997. In 1999 his responsibilities were expanded and he took on the additional role of president of Decca. Later that year he consolidated Decca and Philips Classics into one organization, Decca Music Group, based in London. At Decca he went on to work with top classical artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Riccardo Chailly, Juan Diego Florez, Janine Jansen, and many others, and also oversaw the phenomenal global success of Andrea Bocelli.


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