Welcome to the 2016 Stoke Newington Guitar Festival. We're bringing the finest classical guitar talent to North London for our third festival on the 19th-20th of November. 

Declan Zapala

Described by BBC Radio 3’s Max Reinhardt as “virtuosic and committed, with stunning sonic awareness”, ­Declan Zapala was born into a musical family in Watford in 1985 and first started learning the guitar at the age of 10. In his subsequent 20 years as a guitarist, he has performed on BBC Four television, as well as BBC Radio 3, and has performed internationally, achieving great success as a solo artist for his unique and innovative classical & percussive guitar concerts. Declan regularly performs at international Fringe festivals, and has received numerous 5-star reviews worldwide for his sell-out solo shows.

In his formative years Declan studied at the Royal College of Music in London and graduated with Distinction in 2012 from their Master of Performance programme. During his time there he was trained by guitarists Craig Ogden, Gary Ryan, and Carlos Bonell.

Before studying at Masters level Declan studied a Bachelors degree in Music & Sound Recording on the internationally acclaimed Tonmeister course at the University of Surrey. During his time there he gained recognition for his compositional skills in the finals of the 2006 Joyce Dixey Composition Competition, receiving special commendation for a concerto he wrote for guitar trio and string orchestra. Conversely, Declan was recognised for his skills as a classical sound engineer when he graduated in 2008, winning the AMS Neve Prize for Most Natural Classical Sound Recording.

Declan has not only had recognition in radio, TV, and academia but has had notable online success. His self-produced performance video of his percussive solo composition ‘Crystal’ received a quarter of a million views when it went viral at the end of 2013, and his video of his composition ‘Philomena’, a piece he wrote for his mother, has raised over $2000 for the charity ‘the Philomena Project’. Declan’s videos now feature regularly on the infamous CandyRat Records YouTube channel. This year saw the release of Declan’s debut album 'Awakenings' which was launched at a packed out Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall and has received rave reviews from the Guardian, BBC Radio 3, and Guitar Techniques Magazine.

Laura Snowden

SNGF is delighted to present one of the most exciting young talents in classical music. Handpicked by Julian Bream to give a recital at the Wigmore Hall in 2015, Laura is a winner of the Tillett Trust, St John’s Smith Square, International Guitar Foundation and Making Music Philip & Dorothy Green young artist schemes. Performances have included Buxton Festival, Kings Place, BBC Radio 3 (live), and Shakespeare’s Globe with Tir Eolas at the invitation of guitarist John Williams. Her compositions have been commissioned by London Guitar Festival and Deal Festival, and premiered at Sadler’s Wells.; her song Live Free was performed at over three hundred simultaneous concerts in over sixty countries.  

Laura began her studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School, where guitar tuition was made possible by a donation from the Rolling Stones; she went on to study at the Royal College of Music, winning the Guitar Prize in her first year and the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award in 2014. She currently teaches at the Yehudi Menuhin School and was invited to teach at the International Guitar Foundation's Summer School this August.

Laura is a passionate advocate for creativity through music, particularly in her composer-performer partnership with violinist and composer Joo Yeon Sir.  The Snowden-Sir duo were invited this year to give a series of workshops at the Royal College of Music’s Junior Department, resulting in twenty eight new pieces being written for the duo. 

Laura's principal teachers have been Richard Wright (Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal College of Music), Gary Ryan (RCM), Carlos Bonell (RCM), Julian Bream and Tim Salter (composition).  She plays a guitar made by Christopher Dean.

"A poignant, mesmerising show....held the Wigmore Hall rapt with a performance of unassuming poise and intensity." – The Guardian, 2015

"Great expectations exceeded....a true musician whose interpretative capabilities are profound and exciting. A brilliant international career awaits her over the coming decade."  — Classical Guitar Magazine, 2016

Francesco Mariani & Gina Fergione

Gina Fergione, Mezzo-soprano

Gina studied music at Dartington College of Arts and Goldsmith College, University of London. She won a Lilian Baylis award to study with English National Opera working with Anthony Legge, Mary King, Rufus Norris and Deborah Warner. She is a mezzo-soprano, a composer, a vocational teacher and choir director.

Francesco Mariani, Guitar

Francesco studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. He is tutor of guitar at the Purcell School for Young Musicians and has performed and given workshops at the Wirral Guitar Festival, Bath Guitar Festival, London Classical Guitar Festival, Greenwich Guitar Festival, Classic FM and the BBC.

Francesco now lives in London where he combines a busy teaching practice for the Purcell School for Young Musicians with regular recitals. Recently Francesco has collaborated with the Wing-It Singers in a performance of works by Federico Garcia Lorca as well as being featured on the latest album by Phil Mison's Cantoma project. He has also been invited to perform at this years London Classical Guitar Festival at the Bolivar Hall.

Guitarists of the Purcell School

The Purcell School for Young Musicians is the UK’s oldest specialist music school. The school was awarded the UNESCO Mozart Medal in 2003, which was received on behalf of the school by Prince Charles, who is a patron of the school. Sir Simon Rattle is the honorary president of the school.

The school has a growing guitar department, currently with 6 first study guitarists who take part in a busy programme of individual lessons, ensemble coaching and masterclasses from some of the world’s finest players. Francesco Mariani is the guitar teacher at the school.

Ned Moss originally joined the school as a violinist, having guitar lessons as second study. After immersing himself in the repertoire he realised a deep affinity with the instrument. In 2014 he successfully re-auditioned to become a first study guitarist. His musical interests include J.S Bach, the music of the Romantics (Sor & Mertz) and the Spanish repertoire. In 2015 his ensemble was selected to represent the school in it’s Wigmore Hall recital, playing Villa-Lobos’ Sexteto Mistico. In 2016 he was featured playing Bach in a BBC feature on the school.

Owen Bunting studied at Purcell until 2013. In 2013 he gained a Presidential Scholarship to continue his studies at the San Francisco Conservatory under David Tanenbaum, where he deepened his interest in the contemporary repertoire. He is currently completing his studies at the Royal Northern College of |Music studying with Craig Ogden. Since then he has given rare performances of the guitar music of Terry Riley and other contemporary composers.

Billy Watman came to the school already very experienced in a number of different guitar styles - steel string, electric, blues and rock. Now with a strong classical technique and a preference for nylon over steel, Billy is combining his classical repertoire with his own ‘crossover’ arrangements, utilising classical technique playing popular idioms. He was a finalist at the Latitude Festival in the 2016 Sky Arts Guitar Star competition. His performance of his own arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody in the competition was an internet sensation, and his performances of Astor Piazzolla and Stanley Myers’ Cavatina showed a sensitive and accomplished classical performer.

[unex_ce_button id="content_5hgwatin1" button_text_color="#000000" button_font="regular" button_font_size="15px" button_width="auto" button_alignment="center" button_text_spacing="2px" button_bg_color="transparent" button_padding="15px 40px 15px 40px" button_border_width="1px" button_border_color="#000000" button_border_radius="0px" button_text_hover_color="#ffffff" button_text_spacing_hover="2px" button_bg_hover_color="#000000" button_border_hover_color="#000000" button_link="" button_link_type="url" button_link_target="_blank" has_container="1" in_column=""]BUY TICKETS[/ce_button]