Date & Time

July 5-7, 2019


Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

126 James Street S.


The 2019 Hamilton Guitar Festival & Competition is a 3-day celebration of the guitar and gives you the opportunity to become totally immersed in the classical guitar. Festival registration includes attendance at all five concerts, two individual lessons, access to all other workshops and lessons, and access to the vendor fair. We will try to schedule lessons with at least one of your preferred teachers. Lessons, masterclasses, and workshops will be offered by Gohar Vardanyan, Juan Carlos Laguna, Laura Young, Miodrag Zerdoner, Jeffrey McFadden, Steve Cowan, Brett Gunther, Bahar Ossareh, Timothy Phelan, David Steinhardt, Emma Rush, and more.

We are once again featuring a one-day youth pass which includes a private lesson, special technique class, an ensemble which will perform at the festival, and more!

This year there are three $150 scholarships available for festival participants.  The deadline was April 1, 2019. 

Festival Prices -

Festival Registration $165.00

Festival + Competition $175.00

Competition only $70.00

Youth one-day pass $70.00

You can register in the "Ticket" section of this website.  REGISTRATION CLOSES JULY 1!

Concert Prices

$25/15    Evening concerts

$15/$10  Saturday afternoon

free/donation Sunday events

Concert tickets also available at the door or by calling

(905) 807 4792.


Any questions can be directed to:



Juan Carlos Laguna Friday, July 5, 8pm

Born in Mexico City, Juan Carlos Laguna studied music at the Escuela Nacional de Musica where he graduated with honours. He unanimously won the Tokyo International Guitar Competition in 1991, and was awarded the diploma of merit from the Ministry of Culture of Japan. He conducted an artist residency in New York at The Manhattan School of Music.

Laguna has been a soloist with leading orchestras in Mexico and abroad. He has appeared repeatedly in the most important halls in Mexico, North and South America, Asia and Europe. Well-known composers such as Takashi Yoshimatsu, Ian Krouze, Arturo Márquez, Manuel de Elías, Julio César Oliva, Simone Iannarelli, Leonardo Coral and Luis Chazarreta have dedicated works to him.

Juan Carlos Laguna is professor at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UMAN) and artistic director of the Taxco International Guitar Festival. His discography includes recordings in Mexico, France, England and Japan; also for Kojima Recordings, Soundspells Productions, Forlane, Auvidis and Urtext, as well as recordings for film

Gohar Vardanyan Friday, July 5, 2019 8pm

Widely admired for her technique,a rtistry, and passionate performances Armenian guitarist Gohar Vardanyan has performed throughout the United States and internationally. She has performed for numerous guitar societies, universities, and arts organizations, including the Smithsonian  Institution in Washington, DC, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and guitar societies in Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, and New York City to name a few. She has appeared on National Public Radio in the United States and Radio Nacional in Argentina. Ms. Vardanyan has performed with the Juilliard Opera Center and as a soloist with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra and Panama National Symphony Orchestra. She has also been a guest artist at International Guitar Festivals in Canada, Panama, Italy, and Mexico. She has been featured on the cover of Classical Guitar Magazine. Guitar International Magazine has described her as “the complete package,” “with a musicality and emotional quality...that one would expect from someone much older than the young wunderkind. Not only is she able to draw you into her performances with engaging musical interpretations, but she has the technical facility that is required of any concert level guitarist.”Her playing has been described as“passionate,” “evocative,” and “virtuosic.”

Miodrag Zerdoner Saturday, July 6, 2019 8pm

Miodrag Zerdoner is one of Canada’s true virtuoso guitarists. He brings a lyrical sensitivity to Romantic repertoire and his renditions of modern classics highlight his show-stopping technique. His complete immersion in the world of the guitar has led him to guitar making and his intricate 19th century style guitars are played by top performers around the world.


Miodrag’s exceptional talent was recognized early on during his childhood in Sarajevo where he won the National Guitar Competition three years in a row, and made his debut as soloist with or-chestra when he was only 14. After arriving in Canada in 2001 Miodrag quickly established him-self in the Canadian guitar scene, winning the Montreal International Guitar Competition and being the only guitarist to win a top prize in the prestigious Helene Roberts Music Competition.


In demand as a recitalist, Miodrag has been featured at the Hamilton International Guitar Festi-val, Toronto Guitar Weekend, Durango Festival in Mexico, and as soloist with orchestras in Quebec and Rimouski.

After initial studies with his father, Miodrag completed his formal training at the top of his class at the Conservatoire de musique de Quebec. Miodrag currently teaches in Rimouski, where he makes his home.

Laura Young Saturday, July 6, 2019 8pm

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada of Russian and Irish heritage, Laura Young began her study of music at the age of six and became a dedicated student of the guitar when she was nine years old.

At the University of Toronto, Laura earned her Bachelor of Music degree under the direction of Eli Kassner at the University of Toronto, continued her studies with David Russell and completed them with Hubert Käppel at the Hochshüle in Cologne, Germany.

As a soloist Laura has given widely acclaimed performances around the world:
Alte Oper Frankfurt (Germany), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), National Arts Centre, Ottawa (Canada), Salle Cortot, Paris (France), Teatro IFT, (Buenos Aires), Tijuana Festival, (Mexico), Institut Frances, Madrid, Chappelle St. Louis, Montreal (Canada), Rathaus Aachen, (Germany), Athens, (Greece), Nuertingen Guitar Festival, Iserlohne Guitar Festival, (Germany), Vienciuskerk, Amsterdam, Ijsbreker, Amsterdam, De Schalm, Amsterdam International Guitar Festival, Freschen Guitar Festival, (Germany), Ligita International Guitar Festival, (Lichtenstein) Dillington and Winchester International Guitar Festival (England), Aschaffenburg International Guitar Festival, (Germany), Santo Tirso International Guitar Festival, (Portugal), Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, (Canada) among many others.

Laura has won prestigious prizes at international competitions such as the “Andrés Segovia Competition” in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and the “Jacinto e Inocencio Guererro” in Madrid, Spain, among others.

Laura Young has premiered solo and chamber works by contemporary composers such as:  Sergio Assad, Carlo Domeniconi, Atanas Ourkouzounov, Gyan Riley, Feliu Gasull,  Jorge Morel, Ferdinand Försch, Apostolos Paraskevas etc.

Since 2010, her principle chamber ensemble has been with mezzo soprano, Frances Pappas in the “Lagrimosa Belta” duo. They have recently recorded ancient Greek, Sephardic and Turkish songs composed and/or arranged for them by Stefan Hakkenberg, Feliu Gasull i Altisent, Helmut Jasbar, including works by Mikis Theodrakis and Dušan Bogdanović.

From 1997-2001, Laura was the founder and Artistic Director of the Amsterdam International Guitar Festival. In the last year of the festival, students and artists from over 20 countries participated in a week including: Master’s Concert Series, Student Show-Case Concerts, Lectures, resident Composers presenting their solo and ensemble works, Luthier Exhibition, and Master classes.

Laura’s recorded works include: Laura Young Solo, (Clearnote), La Belle Excentrique (Artelier), Juegos del Viento (GHA), Lagrimosa Belta with mezzo soprano Frances Pappas, released in 2014, Laura Young Plays Max Reger, (solo), also released in 2014.

From 2009, Laura has been a Phd Candidate at Leyden University in the Docartes program for Artistic Research. The focus of her work is: “Enhancing musical expressiveness on the classical guitar through the interpretation of selected works from Max Reger’s solo cello and solo violin repertoire;  translating musical connections from the expressive interpretive traditions of the voice, violin and cello for classical guitar performance.   

Laura is Professor at the Mozarteum in Salzburg since 2014

Austin Wahl Saturday, July 6, 2018 2pm

Austin Wahl is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has won prizes in the Lone Star Guitar Competition (1st), Hamilton International Guitar Competition (1st), Great Lakes Guitar Society Competition (1st), Schubert Club Competition (1st), Thursday Musical Competition (1st), Montreal Competition (2nd), University of Louisville Competition (2nd), Southern Guitar Competition, (2nd), and the Indiana University Competition (3rd). He has performed in masterclasses for Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Manuel Barrueco, Sharon Isbin, Eliot Fisk, Lorenzo Micheli, Matteo Mela, Roland Dyens, and Raphaella Smits, among others. He began study of the classical guitar at age five with Alan Johnston, a founding member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. Subsequently, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees as well as a performer's certificate at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he is currently a doctoral student of Dr. Nicholas Goluses. In addition to his classical playing, Wahl enjoys numerous other styles of music. He won the 2009 youth division of the Minnesota State Fair Bluegrass Flatpicking competition, and has performed in a bluegrass band masterclass for internationally known banjoist Bela Fleck. Wahl is also a member of Rochester, NY bluegrass band Kubick's Rubes. At age 14 he also built a fully functional electric guitar (dubbed the "Wahl-o-Caster") with a body of solid purpleheart, weighing in at nearly fifteen pounds.

Competition Finals Sunday, July 7, 2019 7pm

The final round of our Hamilton International Guitar Competition.  Three finalists will perform, results (including the audience favourite prize) will be announced at the end of the concert.  Open to the public, free admission.

Festival Showcase Sunday, July 7 2pm

A concert showcasing the participants of the festival!  This concert is open to the public (free admission).

Additional Teaching Faculty

We are pleased to offer lessons, masterclasses, and workshops with Dr. Jeffrey McFadden, Steve Cowan, Brett Gunther, Bahar Ossareh, Timothy Phelan, Dr. Kevin Manderville, David Steinhardt (youth program coordinator), Evan Drummond, Emma Rush.

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$25/$15    Evening concerts

$15/$10 Saturday afternoon

Sunday concerts are free admission, with donations gratefully accepted.


Tickets are available on this website, by calling (905) 807 4792, or at the door.

Gohar Vardanyan/

Juan Carlos Laguna - $25/15

Friday, July 5 at 8 p.m. 


Austin Wahl- $15/10
Saturday, July 6 at 2 p.m.  


Laura Young/Miodrag Zerdoner - $25/15
Saturday, July 6 at  8 p.m.  


Festival Showcase - free/donation
Sunday, July 7 at 2 p.m. 


Hamilton International Guitar

Competition Finals - free/donation
Sunday, July 7 at 7 p.m.  



The competition will be three rounds, held Friday, July 5-Sunday, July 7.  The rounds will be maximum 8 minutes, 12 minutes, and 20 minutes for the finals.  There is no set piece and material can be repeated from round to round. Jury members may differ in each round. We will contact participants by Wednesday, July 3 to confirm performance time for the first round. 

First prize: 

$400, a concert at the 2020 Hamilton International Guitar Festival, and an 8-string copy of a 19th century Stauffer guitar handmade by Canadian luthier Miodrag Zerdoner. 

Second prize:


Third prize:


Audience Favourite:


Director's Prize for outstanding performance of a work by a female composer: