Guitar Weekend at Kent State University at Stark

by Jara Anton

Keith Richards said, “You’re always learning about this thing every time you pick it up” –and of course, he was talking about his guitar. Playing music can actually change your brain. When human beings learn to play music, they refine time management and organizational skills, teaches perseverance and coordination. Playing music makes you sharper—-at mathematical ability, memory capacity. It will sharpen concentration and relieve stress. 

If you happen to be one of these people who are already living the dream of music for pleasure or profession, you’re in for a treat. For those who have an unending love of all things guitar, The Kent State Stark Guitar Weekend is coming to your town. 

This is a three day weekend festival that celebrates all types and styles of guitar playing. It is three days of both performances and lectures by some of the most revered and respected guitarists and scholars, not only from Ohio, but from all over the country. Oh—-and its completely free to the public!

These guest artists will have a hand in the educational activities and festivals that participants are treated to. The Guitar Weekend will work closely with the fledgling Canton Youth Guitar Orchestra operating under the Canton Youth Symphony to connect these guest artists to young music students across Stark County. 

You might be asking yourself who the artists are? First, classical guitarist and educator Isaac Bustos has traveled all over the continental US, Europe. He will be on hand Saturday Oct 1, for the Classical Guitar Masterclass. He will also be performing on Friday, Sept 30. 

The irreverent solo artist Neil Zaza will be attending the Kent State Stark Guitar Weekend. Neil Zaza is an instrumental guitarist who has become well known for his technical accuracy and adaptation of classical works by Bach and Mozart into his own blend of neo-classical, melodic, guitar instrumentals. He is a god amongst guitar players and he is offering a workshop, Friday, September 30. Ben Monder, John Covach, The Ritsos Project will all be offering their time and attention as well. 

So pack up your ax and get a seat to hear and speak to people who managed to work their way to the top! Schedule is below.


Isaac Bustos, classical guitar concert – Friday, September 30th, 7:30 pm, Main Hall Auditorium

Dr. John Covach, Director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester, Lecture (topic forthcoming) – Saturday, October 1st, 2:00 pm, Main Hall Auditorium 

Ben Monder, jazz guitar concert – Saturday, September 30th, 7:30 pm, Main Hall Auditorium

Community performance featuring local guitarists and the Canton Youth Guitar Orchestra – Sunday, October 2nd, 12:30 pm, Main Hall Auditorium

The Ritsos Project, new music with guitar concert – Sunday, October 2nd, 3:00 pm, Main Hall Auditorium

Neil Zaza, melodic electric guitarist concert – Sunday, October 2nd, 7:30 pm, Main Hall Auditorium


Friday, September 30th

  • 9:00-12:00, artist visits to Canton City Schools
  • 1:00-2:00, Neil Zaza in Erin Vaughan’s studio class, room TBD

Saturday, October 1st

  • 10:00-11:30, Isaac Bustos, classical guitar masterclass
  • 12:00-1:30, Ben Monder, workshop
  • 3:30-5:30, John Covach, coaching pop ensembles

Sunday, October 2nd

  • 10:00-12:00, Neil Zaza, workshop, 101 Fine Arts