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Behind the scenes at Manchester Guitar Festival 2022

After a hugely successful first year, we’re delighted that the Manchester Guitar Festival will return in 2023. We’ll be announcing more details of the line-up soon, and ahead of the announcements we caught up with Festival Director Fran Healey to go behind the scenes of the 2022 festival.

What was your highlight from this year’s festival?

I was so pleased to be able to get our first Manchester Guitar Festival off the ground, and loved every minute of it. My main highlight was seeing people come in, with their guitars on their shoulders, ready to really engage with the performances and participate in the workshops and talks that were taking place through the weekend. It was lovely to talk to the performers and hear how they had inspired one another’s styles over the years, and to be able to showcase really big names in the industry alongside local and upcoming talent – right through from Craig Ogden and Sean Shibe, to students from Chetham’s, RNCM and BIMM, and local artists like Becky Langan.

What goes into planning a Guitar Festival?

A lot!  It’s normally about a 2 year project, finding dates that work in Manchester, and working with artists and their agents to piece together performances that will appeal and offer an interesting variety to our audiences. The days have to hang together completely, right from opening the doors at the start of the day through to the very last goodnights at the end of the grand finale performance in the evening. Our aim is always to have something that people will feel comfortable with, as well as something that they might be able to experiment and step outside of their comfort zone to see. Music is an incredible artform that we can all relate to in our different ways, and it is lovely to organise an event like the Manchester Guitar Festival that brings people of all ages, from all walks of life, together in one place to learn and share the experience together.

How does The Stoller Hall support musicians?

Our ethos is that everyone starts somewhere, and we want to be a part of the journey to give performers the platform to reach new audiences and get their names out there. The Manchester Guitar Festival is a great opportunity for this. If we can build audience trust with names and music that people recognise, we can create the platforms for people to see other performers and perhaps find new favourites to follow. Whether people want to learn to play, learn to listen, or just hear and enjoy the music, it’s great to be able to bring that all under one roof in a condensed weekend of all things guitar.

Any plans for another festival?

Of course!  There are a small number of Early Bird Tickets available already for 2022 – hold it in your diaries – Friday 19 – Sunday 21 May 2022. The details are being worked on, but we will have performances taking place including open rehearsals, workshops and talks, local musicians, and of course some amazing headline jazz, folk and classical acts. There will be opportunities to participate, and something for everyone – all ages, abilities and interests.

You can now look back on some of the incredible highlights from the 2022 festival below.

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