Alessio Ambrosi is the artistic coordinator for the Acoustic Guitar Village at Cremona Musica. Here he talks about the Acoustic Guitar Village, offering a very interesting view of the guitar world, from an insider’s point of view.
What is the Acoustic Guitar Village in Cremona Musica?
The Acoustic Guitar Village was formerly held in the Firmafede Fortress in Sarzana, where it had grown and consolidated. It then needed greater international exposure, something that Cremona, with its name and history in the field of music and violin making, could certainly ensure. The attention with which the organizers of Cremona Musica have considered our event and the common objectives of developing the event on an international level have convinced us to strongly believe in this shared project. In addition, the numbers of visitors and exhibitors reached in Sarzana and the desire for further growth needed a high-level organizational machine, which Cremona Musica could guarantee. We hope to have brought many important contents and an atmosphere of freshness and enthusiasm into Cremona Musica.
Can you give us some numbers of the last editions of the Acoustic Guitar Village in Cremona Musica?
The change, after 18 years of development in the same place in Sarzana, certainly needed a period of adjustment, but we are very satisfied with the results already achieved in just two years of Acoustic Guitar Village in Cremona: the most qualified acoustic guitar companies in the world have immediately joined the new project, continuing a very important partnership. The individual guitar makers are now understanding the importance of the event: their participation can open new markets also in foreign countries. The presence of international guitar makers is also constantly increasing.
We are talking about more than 60 exhibition booths inside the AGV in the 2017 edition, 190 musicians were present on the various live stages and a constantly increasing number of visitors, difficult to quantify compared to the total presence numbers at Cremona Musica. But I think that, of the 17,000 and more visitors of 2017, many of them visited and were interested in the Acoustic Guitar Village.
For the exhibitors of the guitar world, what are the advantages of participating in Cremona Musica?
As I said before, the high quality of Cremona Musica and the fame of Cremona in the world as a homeland of the excellence of the musical instrument give the exhibitors an important return in terms of image and allow them to get in touch with collectors and buyers of high level, both Italian and from abroad. In recent editions, the presence of owners of the most important musical instrument stores interested in the new market has been constantly growing. Furthermore, the high number of musicians present in the various live events provides exhibitors with a high concentration of interested and competent customers.
In recent years you have created a rich program of cultural and artistic events dedicated to the guitar, with concerts, exhibitions, master classes and workshops. Can you already give us some anticipation for the program of the next edition?
The formula of combining the exhibition area with a series of in-depth events and performances has been a winner for many years and certainly will be the format that we will present in the next edition: coming to experience the Acoustic Guitar Village means making a journey of enrichment in the culture of the guitar, hopefully with enthusiasm and fun.
For the 2018 guitar-making masterclass, there will be two very experienced American luthiers and founders of two important American guitar-making schools, Bryan Galloup and Charles Fox.
For the teaching and in-depth studies on guitar techniques there will be Clive Carroll and John Jorgenson, two great performers but also top representatives of guitar styles such as fingerstyle, bluegrass, gypsy jazz. The lessons will be coordinated by Michelangelo Piperno.
We are also working on a particular focus on the classical guitar, with special attention to flamenco, the well-known genre and Spanish musical universe.
The live events on the two stages outside the pavilions are confirmed, with the competition for upcoming “New Sounds of Acoustic Music” (Friday 28 September) and the Italian Bluegrass Meeting (Saturday 29 September), which will bring dozens of musicians passionate about this genre to talk and have fun among guitars, banjos, mandolins, violins and double basses, and the contest for songwriters-guitarists “Corde & Voci d’Autore”, which this year will be particularly rich in artists and will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the death of the late singer Stefano Rosso.
Besides the demo stage, available to the artists presented by the guitar companies present at the exhibition, there will be a new indoor stage for the performances and demonstrations of classical guitars, available to all the guitar-makers. There will also be historical exhibitions, dedicated this year to the history of the archtop guitar and to the presentation of historical models of the 19th century.
What advice would you give to young guitarists who want to make music a profession?
To face this world with great commitment and dedication: deciding to be a music professional is still a very difficult choice, even if things are slowly changing for the better.
It is important, and it is a mission of Acoustic Guitar Village to deepen as much as possible the culture of the guitar, to get to know the instrument that is being played in depth, both in the performance techniques and in the construction techniques. It must no longer happen, as it did for a long time, that a guitarist does not know what woods his guitar is made of!
Even those who love to write a song or compose a piece of music should never forget that the style of guitar accompaniment must be good, not superficial.
Studying and practicing, possibly leaving the protective shell and going to witness and attend important musical scenes, even outside of our confines.
It is also important to know that there are many professional figures in music and Italy is unfortunately lagging behind in many roles: we need managers, producers, agents, event organizers, legal experts and even music doctors!
So the message is not to think that in music as a profession you should only and obstinately be a guitarist, sometimes not with excellent results, but there are many other interesting fields to explore and learn about and that would help the whole music system to grow in Italy.