Who To See at Manchester Guitar Festival 2023

The excitement is ramping up for the 2023 Manchester Guitar Festival, happening on Friday 19 – Sunday 21 May. Alongside our three headlining acts, we’re also welcoming many artists across the Saturday and Sunday who’ll be running workshops, and performing in The Stoller Hall, the Carole Nash Hall and the Atrium.

Discover more about our three headlining acts and book your tickets (booking for our Saturday or Sunday headliners will also get you access to the day ticket events, excluding youth participation events.)

Alexandra Whittingham

After studying the classical guitar at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, Alexandra Whittingham gained a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Having been awarded first class honours and the Timothy Gilson Guitar Prize in 2019, she returned to the Royal Academy the following year to complete her master’s degree.

In May 2021 Alexandra released her debut studio album My European Journey, which explores the guitar’s great coming of age in 19th-century Europe. The album sees Alexandra’s passion for this era of guitar music combine with a love of discovering lesser-known composers and bringing them into the spotlight. The recording lead to her being chosen as one of Classic FM’s ‘Rising Star’ artists in 2022.

Maintaining an active online presence, Alexandra has gained over 265,000 subscribers on YouTube during recent years, where videos of her performances have collectively surpassed 40 million views. Her audience online has lead to live performances all over the world. Closer to home Alexandra has performed at London’s Abbey Road Studios, County Hall, Milton Court Concert Hall, the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Wells Cathedral.

Jon Gomm

Jon Gomm performs on guitar (black and white)

Image Credit: Rob Spicer

Jon Gomm is a singer-songwriter and acoustic solo performer based in Yorkshire, UK, known for his once-seen-never-forgotten virtuoso guitar style. This involves slapping, tapping and retuning as he plays, producing a huge, multi-layered sound filled with bass, drums and near-orchestral depth and complexity, all from a single guitar.

His songs are often deeply emotive, whether with or without his soft, affecting voice. And his live performances are intimate and powerful, but always punctured by his natural North Of England wit and self-deprecation. Alongside his performance, Jon will be running a masterclass on Saturday 20 May. Here’s the details of the event in his own words.

“My approach is to always see your guitar, playing technique and music theory as a set of creative tools, not a set of rules to follow.

In this masterclass, I’ll be demonstrating unorthodox approaches to the guitar, such as tapping and percussive fingerstyle. You’ll learn how to begin using both your hands to generate melody, harmony, bass lines, drums and other sounds from one guitar.

I’ll give an insight into how I apply those techniques, using simple music theory, to write music. I’ll also be explaining how to amplify these sounds, using pickups and other gear.

I guarantee you’ll acquire some new ideas to bring to your personal guitar universe, and an understanding of my unique perspective. And I’ll send you away with a PDF for the class with notation /guitar tab. I’ll be making time for questions, too, so please come at me with your best shot.”

Stuart McCallum

Stuart McCallum playing electric guitar

An in-demand guitarist, composer, producer and educator, Stuart rose to prominence writing for and playing with the Cinematic Orchestra, on their Ma Fleur and Live at the Albert Hall albums, as well as on their award winning Disney soundtrack, The Crimson Wing.

Stuart’s varied career has involved collaborations with electronic artists such as Jordan Rakei, James Zoo, JP Cooper and Bjork percussionist Manu Delago; performances with UK jazz greats John Surman and Kenny Wheeler; recordings with American jazz stars Ari Hoenig, Ira Coleman and Dan Weisz; and performances with prominent folk artists, such as Danny Thompson and Michael McGoldrick.

On Sunday 21 May, Stuart will be teaching a workshop for electric guitarists who want to explore effects pedals and how they can be used creatively to create new and exciting sounds.

Jim Faulkner

Jim Faulkner with pale wood guitar on pale grey background

Jim Faulkner has been a professional guitarist for 25 years, performing, touring and recording across Europe in styles as diverse as jazz, contemporary classical, progressive rock, world music and pop. In addition to a busy performing career, Jim also teaches at Chetham’s School of Music, the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) and gives regular workshops at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

On Saturday 20 May, Jim’s band will be performing original compositions written by him, exploring his love of improvisation, interplay, and harmonies and rhythms that twist and turn. Joining him will be Kyran Mathews on Tenor Sax, Gavin Barras on double bass and Johnny Hunter on Drums, all brilliant musicians and established band leaders themselves.

On Sunday 21 May, Jim leads an introduction to jazz chord voicings. Learn some of the most common chord shapes used in jazz guitar and how you can use these in your own playing. Jim will take you through some common jazz chord progressions and introduce you to some of the accompanying rhythms found in jazz and Bossa Nova.

Miguel Pérez

Guitarist Miguel Perez

Looking to learn or develop your flamenco technique? Ahead of his headlining Espíritu Flamenco performance, Miguel Pérez will be running a flamenco workshop for all abilities on Saturday 20 May. Miguel’s distinctive style as a guitarist and composer is prize-winning. He has performed with leading dance companies over many years, worked in the major tablaos of Seville and Tokyo, and continues to accompany international artists in the major international flamenco festivals each year.

Richard Durrant

On Sunday 21 May, Richard Durrant will be cycling his way to Manchester to perform his Music for Midsummer.

Richard Durrant is a musician who defies categorisation. He is one of the leading guitar virtuosos of his generation, he performs standing up and writes a high proportion of his own concert music in what has been described as an intricate, English folk baroque style.

Richard has performed worldwide. He’s celebrated in Paraguay for his playing of the music of Agustin Barrios and his lyrical, virtuosic reworkings of Bach’s works (played on Tenor Guitar and Ukulele) have received critical acclaim. In the UK Richard has appeared live on BBC Radio 2, 3, 4 and 6 Music.

Richard shows his concern for the natural environment by playing his annual, British Isles midsummer tour carrying everything on a bicycle and trailer. In 2022 he cycled one thousand miles from Orkney to Sussex performing concerts along the way.  He regularly appears in cathedrals, concert halls, theatres, churches, forests and fields. His Candlelit Christmas Tour and Music for Midsummer Tour have become a much loved fixture for audiences throughout the UK.

Henry Purcell and JS Bach are two of the superstars sharing the stage with Richard at the Manchester Guitar Festival.  Their timeless music will be given the unique Durrant treatment on a Gary Southwell guitar made from a 5,000 year old English oak and a Pete Howlett supertenor ukulele. Both instruments are plucked from the Durrant bicycle onstage each night.

Says Richard:“Henry and Johann Sebastian are key elements in this year’s programme.The architectural strength and beauty of their music allows my acoustic creations to bask in reflected glory!”

Mike Ciuputa

Mike Ciaputa is a guitarist based in the North West, playing a variety of music and styles, including classical, pop, rock, jazz and fingerstyle. He is an experienced session musician, playing in pit and function bands across the North West.

Mike is Creative Director of the contemporary jazz group, The Ciaputa Trio, writing and playing original music and reinventions of classic jazz tunes. He also writes and performs fingerstyle guitar and has released one album, String Theory. He is passionate about music and education and has worked with various organisations teaching and inspiring young people, including Wigan Jazz Festival, Greater Manchester Music Hub and Liverpool Philharmonic. Mike will be running our Guitar Choir event on Saturday 20 May, which is a free participatory event for young guitarists aged 11-18 who have already started learning the guitar and want to learn and play, side by side, with other young musicians.

We’ll be updating this page as more artists are confirmed, so please do check back for all the latest details.

Find out more about the full festival here.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *