Semi-Finalists Announced for Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival

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Brookfield, WI (July 1, 2015) As part of an eclectic celebration of some of the world’s best guitar players, 59 competitors have been selected as the semi-finalists in the third annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival (Guitar Competition & Festival) taking place Thursday, August 13, 2015, through Saturday, August 15, 2015, at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts (Wilson Center). An international, multi-genre festival that features four different competitions—Rock/Blues, Fingerstyle, Jazz, and Classical—the Guitar Competition & Festival is open to competitors of all ages and features $22,000 in prize money.

From the pool of YouTube and DVD applications received this spring, a jury of renowned artists from each genre selected the semi-finalists who will perform in the live semi-final round at the Wilson Center, located within Mitchell Park in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The number of competitors advancing to the final round will be determined by the semi-final round adjudicators. For each of the four genres, the first-place cash prize is $3,000; the second-place cash prize is $1,500; and the third-place cash prize is $1,000. First-place winners in each genre will also perform live on Saturday, August 15. Semi-final and final competition rounds, as well as master classes offered throughout the weekend, a stage featuring young, local guitarists, and access to vendor booths are free and open to the public. A complete schedule of Guitar Competition & Festival events is available at

“In addition to the guest artists and guitar industry vendors on site, the educational elements of the Festival— masterclasses and clinics—are a significant element of the activities scheduled. While the semi-finalists are the only players who can perform in the masterclasses, the public is invited to attend, observe, and learn—free of charge,” said Wilson Center President & CEO Jonathan Winkle. “This is a world-class educational opportunity for young players, amateurs, and guitar aficionados.”

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Rock/Blues semi-finalists include Robert Brandolino (Milwaukee, WI), Frank Cara (Salerno, Italy), Brandon Doherty (Menomonee Falls, WI), Noah Gershwin (Wyncote, PA), William Groff (Wausau, WI), Stephen Hull (Racine, WI), Mark Mendoza (Whitefish Bay, WI), Andre Reilly (Algonquin IL), Eric Ruiz (Oconomowoc, WI), Roger Schaumann (Paynesville, MN), Chris Schuck (Brookfield, WI), and Alex Patrick Wilson (Fairport, NY).

Fingerstyle semi-finalists include Ryan Ayers (Playa Del Rey, CA), Sam Balistreri (Milwaukee, WI), Adam Bjoraker (Milwaukee, WI), Brian Burke (Milwaukee, WI), Thomas Leland Cantwell (Nashville, TN), Rachael Carlson (Milwaukee, WI), David Duneman (Albuquerque, NM), Michael Fenner (Milwaukee, WI), Rick Flores (San Leandro, CA), Kevin Goodwin (Conway, AR), Tom Kraemer (Minneapolis, MN) Jetro Merilainen (Tampere, Finland), Casey Olson (Rio, WI), Nikola Stajic (Serbia/Somerville, MA), and Steven Weiner (West Lafayette, IN).

Jazz semi-finalists include Josh Berenzweig (Gaithersburg, MD), David Colon (Whittier, CA), Yoav Eshed  (Israel/Boston, MA), Noah Gershwin (Wyncote, PA), Felix Lemerle (France/Brooklyn, NY), Danny Nagy (Clarksville, TN), Yoshie Nakagawa (Fukuoka-shi, Japan), Justin Poon (Boston, MA), Jordan Rattner (Brown Deer, WI), Matthew Rotker-Lynn (Milwaukee, WI), Victor San Pedro (North Hills, CA), Marcos Souza (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Nikola Stajic (Serbia/Somerville, MA), Alex Patrick Wilson (Fairport, NY), Hajime Yoshida (Japan/Astoria, NY).

Classical semi-finalists include Mark Akin (St Louis, MO), Ian Baker (Brentwood, TN), Chase Bernard (Minneapolis, MN), Roberto Borbone (San Francisco, CA), Nathan Bredeson (Shorewood, WI), Jack Cimo (Arlington Heights, IL), Isabel Diaz Bello (Milwaukee, WI), Erik Gibelyou (Madison, WI), Kevin Ginty (Tallahassee, FL), Samuel Hines (Long Beach, CA), Brandon Kempf (Milwaukee, WI), Minh Nguyen (Milwaukee, WI), John Oeth (Ridgeland, MS), Paulina Puljek (Croatia/Austin, TX), Jone Ruiz (Milwaukee, WI), Hector Alfonso Torres (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico), and Xiaoxuan Wu (Chicago, IL).

The festival weekend also includes three ticketed festival concerts, including Croatian virtuoso classical guitarist Ana Vidovic on Thursday, August 13, at 7:30pm; internationally renowned guitarist Troy Stetina and American jazz guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg on Friday, August 14, at 7:30pm; and fingerstyle legend Leo Kottke with special guest, Canada-based guitarist Antoine Dufour on Saturday, August 15, at 7:00pm. Tickets range from $23-$70, including a $2/ticket facility fee and Wisconsin State sales tax, and may be purchased online at or through the Wilson Center Box Office at 262-781-9520.

“We know the festival headliners will be amazing. Stetina, Kreisberg, Vidovic, Dufour, and Kottke are each significant, even seminal players within their respective genres, but I am also incredibly excited about the guitarists who have made it to the live semi-final round of the competition,” said Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival Manager Don Sipe. “This year’s crop of talent is the most impressive that we’ve seen, and audiences who take advantage of the free admission to the semi and final rounds of the competition are in for a treat.”

The 2015 Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival is sponsored by Cascio Interstate Music, Enterforce,, the Wilson Family Foundation, Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, The Les Paul Foundation, and D’Addario Foundation (in-kind sponsor). Visit Brookfield is the 2015 Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival Tourism Partner. For more information, visit

Images of the 2015 Guitar Competition & Festival artist headliners are available upon request. A video from the 2014 Guitar Competition & Festival that includes interviews with competitors, judges, instructors, and performing artists may be viewed online at

About the Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival

The Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival is an annual, multi-genre festival that features four different competitions—Rock/Blues, Fingerstyle, Jazz, and Classical. Featuring $22,000 in prize money, the competition is open to competitors of all ages. Semi-final and final rounds take place at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, located in Brookfield, Wisconsin. In addition to evening concerts by some of the world’s greatest guitar players, the festival weekend also includes master class and clinic opportunities for participants and auditors. The entire festival—including semi-final and final competition rounds, master classes, vendor booths, and a stage featuring young, local guitarists—is open to the public. For more information, visit

About the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts

The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary cultural arts center that presents performances by world-renowned artists and ensembles, offers arts education opportunities, and curates the Ploch Art Gallery, which features both national and Wisconsin-based fine artists. In August, the annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival celebrates the world’s leading classical, rock/blues, jazz, and fingerstyle guitarists. Wisconsin fine artists are showcased at the Hidden River Art Festival each September. The Wilson Center nurtures lifelong learning through innovative programs and classes for all interests, ages, and abilities in state-of-the-art studios and classrooms. Some of Southeast Wisconsin’s finest arts organizations offer professional instruction at the Wilson Center, including First Stage Theater Academy and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. The Wilson Center is just minutes west of Milwaukee, located in Brookfield’s Mitchell Park off of Capitol Drive, just west of Brookfield Road. For information about the Wilson Center, call 262-781-9470 or visit

For more information, contact:

Nichole Cooper, Vice President-Marketing & Public Relations
262-373-5034 | [email protected]

Don Sipe, Guitar Competition & Festival Manager
262-439-5681 | [email protected]


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