Parkening International Guitar Competition Announces 2019 Winners

June 5, 2019  | 5 min read

Andrea Roberto - 2019 Parkening International Guitar CompetitionAfter a week of classical guitar performances, Christopher Parkening and Pepperdine University announced the winner of the fifth quadrennial Parkening International Guitar Competition. The event, recognized as the world's preeminent guitar competition, took place at Smothers Theatre at the Malibu campus from May 28 through June 1, 2019.

Andrea Roberto (pictured right), a 23-year-old musician from Italy, took the Gold Medal with his rich interpretation of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Concerto No. 1 in D Major during the sold-out final round on June 1. He received the $30,000 Jack Marshall Prize in addition to his medal.

Alec Holcomb, a 24-year-old native of Nashville, Tennessee, won the Silver Medal and received $15,000. Sergey Perelekhov, 22, of Russia was awarded the Bronze Medal and $7,500.

The three finalists, each of whom performed a concerto with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra under the baton of conductor Michael Stanley, were selected from a pool of 15 standout competitors from seven different countries. A winner was announced after a deliberation following the final performance.

The three competed in the semifinal round on May 31 along with Bokyung Byun, 24, of South Korea (fourth place); Junhong Kuang, 19, of China (fifth place); and Riccardo Calogiuri, 29, of Italy (sixth place).

Other competitors included Javier García Verdugo, 25, Spain; Samuel Hines, 27, Mora, Minnesota, USA; Beiyan Liu, 20, China; Christopher Mrofchak, 27, Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Cody Noriega, 27, Riverside, California, USA; Alex Park, 26, Culver City, California, USA; Miguel Checa Paz, 21, Spain; Marko Topchii, 28, Ukraine; and Tengyue Zhang, 25, China.                             

All of the competitors performed on the first full day of the competition, and six semifinalists were then selected to proceed to the second day. The competitors performed required and free-choice pieces and were judged on musicianship, tone, technique, and stage presence.

The distinguished panel of five judges, representing different areas of the music world, were Mia Bongiovanni, assistant general manager of media and presentations for the Metropolitan Opera; Charlotte Lee, president and founder of Primo Artists; Steve Schoen, former vice president of Sony Music Masterworks and Sony/BMG; David Thomas, recording producer; and Pablo Sáinz Villegas, classical guitar virtuoso and winner of the 2006 Parkening International Guitar Competition. 

The 15 competitors vied for cash awards that totaled $60,000. The fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-place winners each received $1,000. Awards of $500 were given to each of the remaining nine competitors.

“It has been a true inspiration to see the extraordinary level of talent of all who have performed in the competition. We can say with confidence that the future of classical music is bright,” said jury chair Charlotte Lee, at the awards ceremony on June 1. “We’d like to acknowledge each and every competitor for what you have sacrificed to participate in this competition. You have given your commitment, your discipline, your time, your dedication, and your heart. This journey has made you a better musician and a better person.”

Andrea Roberto was born in Italy, and began studying guitar at age 4. At 9 years old, he was admitted to the U. Giordano Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of guitarist Sandro Torlontano and attained his bachelor's degree with honors at the age of 14. Roberto continued his studies with Aniello Desiderio at the Koblenz International Guitar Academy in Germany, and he completed them at the Conservatorium of Music of Maastricht in the Netherlands under the mentorship of Carlo Marchione.

Roberto has received a variety of international awards. In 2009 he won the David Russell Prize for young talented musicians at the Conservatory of Vigo in Spain, fourth prize in the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition at Pepperdine, and the Joven Promesa Prize at the VIII José Tomás—Villa de Petrer International Guitar Competition. In 2010 he won the Valter Cococcia Prize, which goes to the youngest Italian conservatory student graduating with honors.

In 2012 he participated in the Parkening International Guitar Competition. Since then, he has won multiple other awards, including first prize at the second International Competition of the Adriatic in Pescara, first prize at the fourth Stefano Strata International Competition of Pisa, first prize at the International Competition of Twents in the Netherlands, and first prize at the José Tomás Villa de Petrer International Guitar Festival in Spain. Roberto also placed fifth in the 2015 Parkening International Guitar Competition.

In addition to the Parkening International Guitar Competition, Pepperdine presented the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition for guitarists ages 17 and younger on May 28 and 29. First place went to Eric Wang, 15, San Jose, California, USA; second place to Nikolas Rejto, 17, Australia; third place to Garrett Podgorski, 17, Burbank, California, USA; fourth place to Hui Chan Yun, 16, South Korea; and fifth place to Joseph Malvinni, 11, Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Additional Young Guitarist competitors were Hilbert Chen, 10, Cupertino, California, USA; Maggie Grether, 16, Pasadena, California, USA; Mira Morales, 15, Los Altos, California, USA; Evelyn Nguyen, 16, Monrovia, California, USA; and Darren Wu, 16, San Jose, California, USA.     

Cash awards for the Young Guitarist Competition included $3,000 for the first-place winner and $750 for each of the other four finalists. Awards of $500 were given to each of the remaining five competitors.

Judging the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition were music professor Sara Banta, director of digital sales at Naxos USA Mark Forlow, and 2015 Parkening International Guitar Competition Gold Medal Winner Meng Su.

The Parkening International Guitar Competition is pleased to congratulate and announce the winners of the 2019 competition:

  • The Jack Marshall Prize and Gold Medal were awarded to Andrea Roberto, 23, Italy

  • The Silver Medal was awarded to Alec Holcomb, 24, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

  • The Bronze Medal was awarded to Sergey Perelekhov, 22, Russia

  • Fourth Place was awarded to Bokyung Byun, 24, South Korea

  • Fifth Place was awarded to Junhong Kuang, 19, China

  • Sixth Place was awarded to Riccardo Calogiuri, 29, Italy

The Parkening Young Guitarist Competition is pleased to congratulate and announce the winners of the 2019 competition:

  • First Place was awarded to Eric Wang, 15, San Jose, California, USA

  • Second Place was awarded to Nikolas Rejto, 17, Australia

  • Third Place was awarded to Garrett Podgorski, 17, Burbank, California, USA

  • Fourth Place was awarded to Hui Chan Yun, 16, South Korea 

  • Fifth Place was awarded to Joseph Malvinni, 11, Santa Barbara, California, USA

About the Parkening Competition

The competition, which debuted in 2006, offers the largest prize purse of any classical guitar competition in the world, with competitors vying for cash awards that total in excess of $65,000. After three days of intense public performances, the winner of the Parkening International Guitar Competition receives a gold medal, the Jack Marshall Prize of $30,000, and the most prestigious title in classical guitar. The 2019 Parkening Competition was made possible by a generous grant from Howard and Roberta Ahmanson. 

Christopher Parkening is celebrated as one of the world's preeminent virtuosos of the classical guitar. For over 40 years his concerts and recordings have received the highest worldwide acclaim. Parkening is recognized as heir to the legacy of Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia. He has performed at the White House, appeared with Placido Domingo on Live from Lincoln Center, participated in the Carnegie Hall 100th anniversary celebration, and performed twice on the internationally televised Grammy Awards, and has appeared on many nationally broadcast television programs.

He has collaborated with composers John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Joaquin Rodrigo, F. Moreno Torroba, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and premiered new concert works in an effort to keep the guitar in the musical forefront. Parkening has been guest soloist with the finest orchestras in the United States, including the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Minnesota orchestras, the Chicago, Pittsburgh, and National symphony orchestras, the Detroit, Houston, Oregon, and St. Louis symphonies, the New York Philharmonic, the St. Paul and Los Angeles chamber orchestras, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

Parkening is the recipient of two Grammy nominations in the category of Best Classical Recording for Parkening and the Guitar and The Pleasures of Their Company, a collaboration with soprano Kathleen Battle. He was given the acclaimed American Academy of Achievement Award for excellence in the field of music. He also was presented with the 2000 Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Classical Guitarist and the 2003 University Musical Society's Distinguished Artist Award.