Date & Time



Staircase Theatre

27 Dundurn St. N.


The 2020 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, performance in at least one masterclass, access to all masterclasses and workshops, participation in the ensemble, performance in the festival showcase concert, and access to the vendor fair. One private lesson can be added to your registration for an additional fee. Masterclasses, and workshops will be offered by Dale Kavanagh, Jeffrey McFadden, Steve Cowan, Duo NIHZ, Brett Gunther, Timothy Phelan, Kevin Manderville, Will Douglas, Emma Rush, and more.  Please note that our format has changed this year and we are able to offer a lot more programming throughout the festival.  There will be masterclasses and workshops on a number of topics including Bach, Romantic music, stage fright, careers in music, Latin Music, technique, and so much more.  This year we are pleased to welcome Amy Brandon as our composer-in-residence.  The festival ensemble will be premiering a new work composed especially for us by Amy at the participants concert on July 5.

We are once again featuring a youth pass which includes a masterclass, technique class, and ensemble participation.

This year there are three  $150  scholarships available for festival participants.  The deadline to apply is April 1, 2020. 

Festival Prices -

Early Bird

Festival Registration $195.00

Festival + Competition $205.00

Competition only $90.00

Youth pass $80.00

You can register in the "Ticket" section of this website.  EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION CLOSES APRIL 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:



10th Anniversary Gala Concert

We are celebrating 10 years of the Hamilton Guitar Festival!  Our opening concert features our faculty artists and other familiar faces from our festival history.  Artists will include Jeffrey McFadden, ChromaDuo, Kevin Manderville, Steve Cowan, Timothy Phelan, Emily Shaw, Will Douglas, David Steinhardt, and some special ensembles.  And, for the first time in the festival's history, our director Emma Rush will be taking the stage! 

Dale Kavanagh Saturday, July 4, 2020 8:30pm

Canadian-born Dale Kavanagh is acclaimed as one of the guitar world´s most gifted interpreters.   Between 1986 and 1988 Ms. Kavanagh was a top prize-winner in Spain’s  “Segovia Competition,” Italy’s “Gargnano Competition,” Switzerland’s “Neuchatel Competition,” and  First and Special Prize winner in Finland’s “Scandinavian International Guitar Competition.”

Dale Kavanagh studied at Acadia University,  Dalhousie University, the University of Toronto, and the Banff Center in Canada, then completed her graduate studies with the Solisten Diplom at the Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel with Oscar Ghiglia, in Switzerland.

Dale Kavanagh performs internationally as a soloist, and in concertos with orchestra.  She also is part of the Amadeus Guitar Duo with German guitarist Thomas Kirchhoff. She has given over one thousand recitals in more than forty countries, and is a regular recitalist and teacher in music festivals throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

As a guest soloist with Orchestra, Ms. Kavanagh has performed on many occasions with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, Würtemberger Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestras of Ankara, Izmir and Antalya, the Edmonton Symphony, Thüringen Philharmonie Gotha, to mention a few.

Dale Kavanagh is Professor of Guitar at the Musikhochschule in Detmold, Germany.  She held the appointment of  “Musician in Residence” at Acadia University between 2003-2010.

Dale was an exclusive artist with (Hänssler Classic) since 1999 which enabled Dale to make seventeen (17) CDs. She is now a Naxos Artist with more CDs in the works.  She has received superlative reviews in many international magazines including Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar Magazine, Fono-Forum, Hi-Fi-Vision, Gendai Guitar, Gitarre & Laute, La Cahir de la Guitare, Musikblatt, Staccato, Soundboard Magazine, Gitar och Luta.

Duo NIHZ Saturday, July 4, 2020 7:30pm

Together Bobby Rootveld (guitar, percussion and vocals) and  Sanna van Elst (recorders and vocals) formed Duo NIHZ in 2001. This duo from The Netherlands is currently based in Germany. Next to the traditional classical repertoire Duo NIHZ specializes in music mixed with theatre and comedy, Klezmer, Yiddish songs, and the restauration of music composed during the Shoah.

Numerous composers composed especially for Duo NIHZ including Nikita Koshkin, Richard Vaughan, Annette Kruisbrink, Gianmartino Maria Durighello, Fred Rootveld, Louis Ignatius Gall, Stefan Grasse, Jim ten Boske, Nutavut Ratanakarn and Jan Bijkerk. Duo NIHZ collaborates with other artists like storytellers (Loek Boer, Benjamin Stedler), guitarist Alberto Mesirca, chazan Baruch Chauskin and saxophonist Gergö Pazmandi.

Duo NIHZ performed in numerous countries and on special location and festivals including: The Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, The Rundetaarn in Copenhagen, The Portugese Synagogue of Amsterdam, The Taj Concert Hall in Thimpu Bhutan, Kolkata Classical Guitar Festival in India, Thailand Guitar Festival in Bangkok, Mottola Guitar Festival in Italy, Jewish Galicia Museum in Krakow Poland and in numerous of other synagogues, churches and festivals and concerthalls in Holland, China, HongKong, Malaysia, Switzerland, Argentina, Germany, Israel, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, India, Bhutan, Thailand, England, France etc.

Tim Beattie, Saturday, July 4, 2020 2pm

Born in Toronto, Canada in 1997, Tim Beattie is currently studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on full-scholarship in the MMus programme under the tutelage of Allan Neave and Matthew McAllister. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in the class of Gabriel Bianco, where he graduated with the distinction ‘cum laude’. Prior to moving to Amsterdam, Tim studied on full scholarship in the pre-college school at the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) in the studio of maestro Robert Hamilton, and then completed a year of undergraduate studies with GRAMMY Award-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he was the recipient of the 2016 Ablan Honors Award in Guitar.


Tim has won over 40 awards and prizes in competitions at municipal through international levels. Most notably garnering top prizes at the 2019 Hamilton International Guitar Competition (1st prize, Audience Favourite Prize), 2018 Brussels International Guitar Competition (1st prize), 2018 Uppsala International Guitar Competition (2nd prize), 2017 Twents Gitaar Festival Competition (4th prize), 2016 James Stroud All-Ohio Guitar Competition (1st prize), 2016 Antwerpen Gitaar Festival Competition (2nd prize), Indiana International Guitar Competition (2nd prize, youth division), Montreal International Guitar Competition (1st prize, youth division). He was named the "Most Promising Youth" by the City of Barrie (his hometown) at the City's 2016 Arts Awards Ceremony, and was also the winner of the Barrie Music Festival's 2015 Rose Bowl Competition.

Competition Finals Sunday, July 5, 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 5 2pm

A concert showcasing the participants of the festival and featuring the world premiere of a new work by Amy Brandon composed for and played by the festival ensemble! This concert is open to the public (free admission).

Additional Teaching Faculty

We are pleased to offer lessons, masterclasses, and workshops with all our performing artists and our distinguished faculty including Dr. Jeffrey McFadden, Steve Cowan, Tracy Anne Smith and Rob MacDonald of ChromaDuo, Brett Gunther, Timothy Phelan, Amy Brandon, Dr. Kevin Manderville, Will Douglas, Evan Drummond, Emma Rush.

Amy Brandon - Composer in Residence

Composer and guitarist Amy Brandon's pieces have been described as '... mesmerizing' (Musicworks Magazine), "Otherworldly and meditative ... clashing of bleakness with beauty ..." (Minor Seventh) and '.. an intricate dance of ancient and futuristic sounds' (Miles Okazaki). Recent and upcoming 2018-19 events include premieres by Ekmeles (NYC - ICEBERG New Music), Chartreuse Trio (Music in Bloom, Indiana), Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Pro Coro (Banff Centre), trombonist Dale Sorensen, pianist Yumi Suehiro, Continuum Contemporary Music Ensemble (PIVOT) as well as performances at Music in New Technologies (CAN), New Music Edmonton, and the centre d’experimentation musicale in Quebec. 


She has received Canadian and international composition awards and honourable mentions from the Leo Brouwer Guitar Composition Competition (Grand Prize), Central European String Quartet ('Most Innovative'), Groundswell and RMN Classical (Europe). Her 2016 solo guitar and electronics album 'Scavenger' was nominated for regional awards including Music Nova Scotia and ECMAs in 2017/18. She has performed in Canada, the USA, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the UK and at several festivals including the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, the Guitar Now Festival, Halifax Jazz Festival Spring Series, Something Else!, Sound Symposium, the International Society for Improvised Music, BeAST FeAST and the Open Waters Experimental Music Festival. She has been a resident at the Banff Centre, the Atlantic Centre for the Arts, PIVOT and a composer participant in Interplay with the Vancouver Chamber Choir. 


In addition to performance and composition, she writes and presents academic work concerning music cognition, virtual reality, improvisation and the guitar. Holding degrees in jazz guitar performance and composition, Amy is currently completing an interdisciplinary PhD in music cognition at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has presented her work at conferences in Australia, USA, Switzerland, Hungary, the UK and at Berklee College of Music, Boston.

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$30/$20    Evening concerts

$20/$15 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.

10th Anniversary Gala Concert - $30/20

Friday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. 


Timothy Beattie- $20/15
Saturday, July 4 at 2 p.m.  


Dale Kavanagh/Duo NIHZ - $30/20
Saturday, July 5 at  7:30 p.m.  


Festival Showcase - free/donation
Sunday, July 5 at 2 p.m. 


Hamilton International Guitar

Competition Finals - free/donation
Sunday, July 5 at 7 p.m.  



The competition will be three rounds, held Friday, July 3-Sunday, July 5.  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 1 to confirm performance time for the first round. *Please note the festival and competition are in a different location this year with limited space.  Warm-up space before the competition will be shared among all competitors.

First prize: 

$400, a concert at the 2021 Hamilton International Guitar Festival, a concert at the 2020 Sauble Beach Guitar Festival, and a concert for Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music.

Second prize:


Third prize:


Audience Favourite:


Director's Prize for outstanding performance of a work by a female composer (chosen from any round of the competition):