2018 Viola Award Finalist for Community Impact (Organization)

On March 31, 2017, the Grand Canyon Guitar Society presented the world premiere performance of By Chants with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) and Arizona Guitar Orchestra.

Grand Canyon Guitar Society (GCGS) enlisted Grammy Winning composer (and former member of LAGQ) Andrew York to compose a new work for this occasion. Fresh off a GCGS performance in Flagstaff and a visit to the Grand Canyon, Andrew York wrote a musical composition based upon musical themes from the Havasupai Indian Tribe in the Grand Canyon called ‘By Chants.’ The title itself is a play on words- the theme used for the composition is a gaming song from the Havasupai Tribe, and he presents the theme, first heard in the LAGQ part, in a chant-like manner of past musical eras. GCGS raised funds from various sources including the Tucson Guitar Society and the participating University Guitar Programs to pay for the composition.

GCGS took the extra step and brought Andrew York to Flagstaff and Phoenix for performances and instruction before the LAGQ concert so that the students could study the new work with the composer in advance of the performances.

On March 31, the world premiere took place in Flagstaff, with LAGQ and the Arizona Guitar Orchestra. The guitar orchestra had university students from across the state, with the only high school participants coming from Flagstaff! The students played a three city Arizona tour with LAGQ.

The planning for this event took well over 2 years and culminated in performances in Flagstaff, Tempe and Tucson in the spring of 2017. Nothing has ever been attempted like this for guitar orchestras, and this was one of the biggest efforts the Grand Canyon Guitar Society has undertaken in its 15 year history. It resulted in Arizona students playing together alongside world class guitarists of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. The performances were magnificent and a huge gift to the arts community and the participants.

This series of events was covered internationally in Acoustic Guitar Magazine in a three page spread which included their pictures and exceptional recognition of the music community in Flagstaff and in Arizona.

The Grand Canyon Guitar Society continues to expand offerings to students with masterclasses from world class performers. Each year, their visiting artist conduct classes and educational outreach in the Flagstaff Community from of charge to the participants, and frequently the young students are then invited to perform as the opening acts for the concerts.

The Grand Canyon Guitar Society continues a solid record of valuable contributions to the Flagstaff community for the past 15 years.

GCGS website >

Video >

AZ Daily Sun article >