Smile Politely

2023 edition of Ellnora | The Guitar Festival features big stars and rising stars

Emmylou Harris

Ellnora | The Guitar Festival, formerly known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival, made its debut at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005. The festival was envisioned as a celebration of the guitar and its global resonance, offering a stage for various genres ranging from blues and jazz to classical, rock, and folk. With an ambitious start, the festival showcased over 30 guitarists during its initial three-day run. The event quickly gained recognition, attracting guitar enthusiasts, musicians, and critics alike, making it an anticipated gathering in the Midwest’s musical landscape.

Over the years, Ellnora has grown in stature and impact, becoming a beacon for innovation and artistic collaboration. The festival’s name change in 2009 to Ellnora, in honor of Ellnora Krannert, who co-founded the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, marked a new chapter in its development. Embracing a wide spectrum of guitar styles and embracing both renowned artists and emerging talents, Ellnora has played a pivotal role in defining guitar culture. Its commitment to excellence and diversity resonates through the rich tapestry of performances, workshops, and community engagements that have become the festival’s hallmark. With each edition, Ellnora continues to shape the guitar’s artistic narrative, affirming its position as a premier event in the world of stringed virtuosity.

This year’s version of Ellnora The Guitar Festival is set to grace the stage at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on September 8-9, and is gearing up to be another unforgettable experience. With a blend of established legends and rising stars, the festival promises a musical celebration like no other.

Meet the Stars

Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio:

Carter’s legacy as the most recorded jazz bassist resonates through his collaboration with Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone. The Golden Striker Trio’s style is often referred to as “chamber jazz of a high order,” with an approach that is both “refined” and “selfless.” Their performances take listeners on a mesmerizing journey, transitioning smoothly between compositions and spontaneous improvisations.

Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco:

DiFranco’s influence reaches far beyond music. Her activism and commitment to social justice resonate through her songs and public appearances. Her recent album, Revolutionary Love, represents a continuance of her signature themes, delivering powerful messages of healing and justice. DiFranco’s life has also been captured in the documentary “Righteous Babe: The Ani DiFranco Story,” adding to her multidimensional legacy.

Emmylou Harris:

Harris’s influence on both the country rock genre in the 1970s and the Americana genre in the 1990s can’t be overstated. Her ability to bridge diverse musical worlds is a testament to her artistic genius. Known for uniting country and rock fans, her live performances are a genuine celebration of music’s unifying power.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela:

Their acoustic guitar work is a marvel of technical mastery and artistic expression. Combining elements of nuevo flamenco, rock, and heavy metal, Rodrigo y Gabriela have managed to create a unique musical signature. Their latest album, In Between Thoughts…A New World, continues to push boundaries, showcasing their extraordinary abilities.

Andy Summers

Andy Summers:

Beyond his role as a musician, Summers is also an accomplished photographer. His solo project, where he combines photography sequences with music, is a testament to his innovative spirit. His recent trilogy of instrumental records provides a compelling insight into his evolution as an artist.

North Mississippi Allstars:

Known for blending the blues and bluegrass of the North Mississippi region with modern forms, the North Mississippi Allstars have created a distinctive sound. Their Grammy-nominated albums and electrifying live performances continue to push the boundaries of blues and southern rock.

Additional Performances

Ellnora is a vibrant mosaic of styles and influences. Classical guitar enthusiasts can look forward to performances by the Pacifica Quartet, a chamber ensemble known for blending classical elegance with contemporary zest, and Sharon Isbin, a multi-Grammy-winning classical guitarist celebrated for her virtuosity and wide-ranging repertoire.

Brazil’s Yamandu Costa adds a Latin flavor with his mastery of the 7-string guitar and fusion of South American styles. Tosin Abassi and Jake Eddy bring a progressive touch, melding metal and modern jazz, while Yasmin Williams and William Tyler contribute their innovative guitar techniques to create an exploratory musical journey. Surf-rock vibes will be provided by The Surfrajettes, with their beachy and retro charm.

Adding to the diversity of the festival are the soul-stirring sounds of the Stephane Wrembel Band, known for their gypsy jazz and world music influences, and Roosevelt Collier, a master of the pedal steel guitar, whose performances are rich in groove and bluesy undertones. Together, these artists enrich the festival, reflecting the multifaceted world of guitar music and ensuring a truly eclectic and engaging musical experience.

Apart from the extraordinary lineup, attendees will be able to enjoy food and drinks from local establishments and a musical instrument “petting zoo.” It’s a celebration of not only music but also community.

The Ellnora | The Guitar Festival is more than just a concert; it’s a tribute to the power of music to bring people together, to inspire and to heal. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a gathering of some of the most influential and talented musicians in a celebration of the artistry of the guitar. Some events require tickets which can be purchased online. Tickets cannot be purchased in person or over the phone. If you have issues purchasing tickets, you can call the ticket office at 217.333.6280 or email them at [email protected]

Ellnora | The Guitar Festival
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
500 S Goodwin Ave
September 8th and 9th
Ticket $10 – $80

Music Editor

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