Local guitarist leads Youth Concert in Sonora

Will Kiel performs at 3 p.m. Sunday in Sonora.

The Sonora Bach Festival presents the opening concert of its four-event series at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Church of the 49ers in Columbia. The Youth Finalists' Concert features talented area youths ages 4 to 18 and resident and recent San Francisco State University music graduate and classical guitarist Will Kiel is the featured guest artist.

The Sonora Bach Festival presents the first of its four October events. The youth concert finds young people playing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Alessandro Scarlatti, Giovanni Pergolesi and other composers. All of the student performers went through an audition process that included the youths receiving recommendations from their private teachers and their completion of a live audition in front of three judges, from whom they received written comments. Those selected to perform were given $50 awards and the opportunity to perform at the annual concert.

“We had an amazing group of kids audition this year, with the widest age range we’ve had in quite a while,” said festival Director and Youth Concert Coordinator Sandra Betti. “All these kids are talented and dedicated, and kudos to their parents for overseeing their musical education.”

This year’s performance includes 19 students performing on piano or singing: Lincoln Siudzinski, Luka Holbert, Reagan Siudzinski, Benjamin Billiet, Jake Boyd, Alissa DeAnda, Bethany Winters, Jade Coard, Genevieve Florez, Thomas Winters, Bella Bouchoucha, Sammy Mirkin, Adelina Verbeck, Sabrina Jensen, Tanner Richardson, Hannah Husher, Alexandria Dowie and Daniel Kook.

This year’s guest artist is classical guitarist Kiel. He has lived much of his life in Tuolumne County and studied music at Columbia College, where he was highly involved in the music program as a guitarist, singer and instrumentalist. In addition, Kiel was required to take the academic music classes that are part of the music major and the general education classes that are required of all Columbia graduates.

After graduating from Columbia College, Kiel received a prestigious Pone Scholarship to attend the San Francisco State University School of Music, from which he graduated with a bachelor of music degree in guitar performance. According to a letter received from the music department, he was selected “on the basis of outstanding talent, accomplishment and promise.”

Over the years, Kiel has studied with Mother Lode guitarist Keith Evans, retired Columbia College professor John Carter and San Francisco Conservatory professor Lawrence Ferrara.

Today Kiel continues to perform in Tuolumne County and is developing a studio of private students in guitar and theory. He says his goal is to pass on a love of music to the students in his growing studio.

“I’m very excited to be playing for the Sonora Bach Festival Youth Concert,” he said. “It’s really a pleasure giving back to the community that nurtured my love of music.”

At Sunday’s Youth Concert, Kiel will perform selections by J.S. Bach, as well as baroque-inspired works from around the world. For more information about his performances and private guitar instruction, visit willkiel.com.

“The Youth Finalists Concert this year is going to be incredible, and will conclude with one of our own, guest artist guitarist Will Kiel,” Betti said. “It should not be missed!”

Tickets are $5 for adults and ages 18 and under get in free. Advance tickets are available at sonorabach.org, at 536-6330 or at the door Sunday if they’re still available.

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