CGSV Solo Guitar Competition Wrap-Up and Results

This weekend we were granted the enormous privilege of hearing the latest up-and-coming talent from all parts of Australia in the 2013 edition of the Classical Guitar Society of Victoria (CGSV) Solo Guitar Competition.

The competition was hosted by the CGSV here in Victoria, and featured players ranging from the earliest grades on the instrument, right up to pretty much professional standard through five categories. It also featured a fantastic haul of prizes for the winners and “honourable mentions” in each category, with local business in the Melbourne area contributing a total of around $10,000 worth of prizes!

The day-long competition, hosted by the CGSV, was expertly adjudicated by no than the Brothers Grigoryan. Yes, the fantastically talented duo, Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, were in attendance all day long to impart their expert opinions and words of wisdom for all the competitors. I didn’t envy their job, in fact, particularly in the Open section where the standard of competitors was extremely high and not much to pick them all!

It was really heartening to see so much talent coming through the ranks and such support as well from the players’ family, friends and of course the local guitar-playing community. It really was a fantastic day, with a great collegial atmosphere akin to a festival or a concert rather than a competition as such.

It was a competition, however, and that meant thats there were some winners and people lucky enough to bag a prize or two!

Here’s the run down of the 2013 CGSV Solo Competition winners (remember these names peeps and that you saw them here first!):

E Category (Grades 1-2)

* WINNER: Joel Koay

* Honourable Mention: Zong qi Liu and Noel Ashby

D Category (Grades 3-4)

* WINNER: Joyee Koay

* Honourable Mentions: Mahen Pathirana and Finn Beckingsale

C Category (Grades 5-6)

* WINNER: Xavier Livingston

* Honourable Mentions: Christian Ewings and Thomas Nheu

B Category (Grades 7-8)

* WINNER: Jessop Shumack

* Honourable Mention: Mark Donato

Open (A) Category

* WINNER: Campbell Diamond. Campbell flies out to Tokyo in December compete in the semi-finals of the Tokyo International Guitar Competition! Good luck Campbell (not that you need it)!

* Second Place: Stephanie Jones

* Best Performance of an Australian work: Callum Henshaw

* Vice President’s Award: Andrew Blanch

As I mentioned earlier, there was some simply stunning playing in the Open section.  The playing from winner, Campbell Diamond, was extremely mature, highly expressive and played with real poise. But don’t just take my word for it – here’s the winner himself playing his winning performance of Movements 1 and 2 from Sonata by Antonio Jose and Blackwattle Caprice No. 2 by Ross Edwards:

A real highlight of the competition for me personally was Stephanie Jones’ rendition of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue (BWV 998). Her playing was simply stunning – such delicate, refined playing, with a very clear sense of musical direction and shaping of the lines. Exquisite. If there were such a thing as the Classical Guitar n Stuff prize (there’s an idea for next year’s competition…….) Stephanie would win it for this.  I can’t give you a link to her playing this divine music just yet (the team has got to have a little rest!), but once’s it has been uploaded I’ll share with you.  It was too good not to share!

Prize or no prize, I’d like to say a big “Well done!” to all that played!


Introducing Michael MacManus

Helloo dear readers!

Well, I have another “Introducing….” for you today. This time it’s the exceptionally talented Melburnian Michael MacManus. Michael is currently a Music Performance Honours student at Melbourne Conservatorium, studying under the great Antony Field and the 2012 winner of the Classical Guitar Society of Victoria’s Solo Guitar Competition.

I’ve had the immense pleasure of witnessing Michael’s development as a player over the last three or four years, and it was clear from the outset that he was a talented, and clearly hard-working, chap. In the last year or so, Michael’s playing has taken on a whole new level of….hmmm….how shall I say this…..awesomeness.

He posted up a video this week of him playing the Sarabande from Bach’s Second Cello Suite and I have to say I was blown away. Such sensitive and refined playing, yet with great expression. A very touching interpretation indeed. Simple and beautiful, as Bach should be.


Michael is also seriously dedicated to the classical guitar and its development, with his own growing group of young students of the instrument, and a committed member of the Classical Guitar Society of Victoria committee. He has taken charge of organising and putting together the 2013 CGSV Solo Guitar Competition, due to be held on 2nd November, with some seriously tasty prizes on offer attracting entrants from the far reaches of Australia and some seriously top notch judges for the competition too – the Grigoryan brothers no less!

If you want to know a bit more about the competition head here: And Michael is so dedicated, he’s already started work on the 2014 competition.

To find out a bit more about Michael, his playing and some more video and audio excerpts head on over to his website: