THE 18th MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Guitar Competition

March 15-17, 2024

2024 Featured Historical composer

John Dowland – England (1563-1626)

2024 Commissioned composer



MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Guitar Competition, formerly MGI Beatty Competition – is an educational program of Marlow Guitar International. Since it was founded in 2007, The MGI Competition has provided hundreds of young guitar students the opportunity to enhance their musical talents and develop their confidence through public performance, while making lifelong friendships. The Competition is committed to making the event accessible, so it is open free of charge to guitarists 18 and under who reside in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. This annual event takes place over a weekend, beginning on Friday evening with a light supper and introductory meeting of contestants, parents, and judges. The playing competition begins on Friday and concludes on Sunday evening with the finals. Each round is open to the public to be an audience member. Please see the rules for eligibility and application due dates.


At its core, MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Competition is about education and encouragement, so after each round the contestants meet individually with each judge to receive feedback and suggestions for improvement. Cash prizes for scholarship are awarded to every finalist, while the grand prize winner is invited to perform a piece at a Marlow Guitar Series concert. Participants and parents are encouraged to listen to all performances to support fellow young talents. In addition to encouraging performance achievement, The Competition fosters an appreciation in young players for the music of contemporary composers. Every year we commission composers of national and international renown to write new set pieces for each age category. We have to date supported composers in the creation of 36 new works for solo guitar, which have entered the guitar repertoire for players to enjoy. We are proud that so many past participants have gone on to attend such prestigious schools as the Cleveland Institute of Music, Peabody Conservatory, and Florida State University, and that others credit MGI Youth Guitar Competition with providing the experience of setting and achieving goals which has served their various educational paths.


MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Guitar Competition came about in 2007 as the perfect intersection between the philanthropic wishes of John and Susie Beatty and their devotion to music, the desire of board member Dr. Amy Crews Cutts to expand the programs offered by the International Conservatory of Music (now Marlow Guitar International) to make a greater contribution to the community, and the vision of classical guitarist Berta Rojas to create a positive, educational competition for young players. Dr. Cutts has produced the competition since its inception – managing applications, the timetable, the sponsors, the travel plans for the judges, the duties of the large volunteer corps, and more. She is the day-to-day face of the competition. Berta Rojas served as artistic director for the first three years, and the competition enjoys the lasting legacy of her leadership, including the judge-competitor feedback sessions, the prizes to honor historic composers, and the design of the “guitar man” logo. In 2010 Dr. Glenn Caluda picked up where Berta left off. His dedication to the educational aspects of the competition is strongly felt through his selection of judges who are experienced players and respected teachers from across the US. From 2008-2012 the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featured Competition winners in a recital on the Millennium Stage. The competition was sponsored for the first 12 years by the Beattys and we are forever grateful for their generosity and support. In 2019, Myrna Sislen became our major sponsor and we look forward to many more great years of the competition with her support. Here are is the recital from the 2012 winners:


Each year MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Competition Composer’s Prize celebrates an important historical composer of classical guitar music. The prize encourages contestants to explore and perform the music of these extraordinary contributors to guitar repertoire.

These are the composers featured by MGI Youth Competition to date:


  • 2008 Honoring Agustín Barrios (1884-1944), Paraguay

  • 2009 Honoring Antonio Lauro (1917-1986), Venezuela

  • 2010 Honoring Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), Brazil

  • 2011 Honoring Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), Mexico

  • 2012 Honoring Fernando Sor (1778-1839), Spain

  • 2013 Honoring Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829), Italy

  • 2014 Honoring Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909), Spain

  • 2015 Honoring the Vihuelists: Luis Milán (Spain, 1500-1561), Alonso Mudarra (Spain, 1510-1580), Luis De Narváez (Spain, 1500-1555), Miguel de Fuenllana (Spain, 1500-1579), Estevan Daza (aka Estevan Daça, Spain, 1537 – between 1591 & 1596), Enríquez de Alderrábano (Spain, 1500-1557), Diego Pisador (Spain, 1509-1557), and Francesco da Milano (Italy, 1497-1543)

  • 2016 Honoring Julio Salvador Sagreras (1879-1942), Argentina

  • 2017 Honoring Napoléon Coste (1805-1883), France

  • 2018 Honoring Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856), Austria-Hungary

  • 2019 Honoring Leo Brouwer (1939 – ), Cuba

  • 2020 Honoring Roland Dyens (1955-2016), France

  • 2021 Honoring Justin Holland (1819-1887), United States of America

  • 2022 Honoring Jorge Morel (1933-2021), Argentina

  • 2022 Honoring Emilia Giuliani Guglielmi (1813-1850), Italy


The MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Competition thanks Carol and Chris Espinosa of Portola Valley, CA for sponsoring the annual commissioning of these pieces. All contestants are required to play the set piece for their division in the first round of the competition.

Commissioned Composers and set piece titles:


  • 2009 Mr. Vincent Lindsey-Clark, United Kingdom –  Pulsar, Free Fall, and Troubadour
  • 2010 Mr. José Luis Merlin, Argentina – Bailongo Campero, Beso de Luna, and Un Paseo a Caballo
  • 2011 Mr. Gerald Garcia, United Kingdom –  Antonio, Milonga, and Havabanera
  • 2012 Mr. Julio César Oliva, Mexico – Columbia, Fiesta Mexicana, and Son de la Paloma
  • 2013 Mr. Frank Wallace, United States of America –  I. Round the World, II. Don’t Say Goodbye, and III. Par 9
  • 2014 Mr. Ernesto Cordero, Puerto Rico – Las Niñas, Niebla, and El Caminante
  • 2015 Dr. Glenn Caluda, United States of America – Small Chaconne for the Great Whales, Song for the Rain Forest, and Celebration
  • 2016 Mr. Mark Anthon y Cruz, United States of America – Chiesa di Santa Maria, Chiesa di San Francesco, and I Guardiani
  • 2017 Dr. Raphael Scarfullery, United States of America –  Moon Dance, Rain Dance, and Sun Dance
  • 2018 Mr. Sergio Assad, Brazil – Transparent Color, Wandering Shepard, and Irregular Mirror
  • 2019 Mr. Guy Van Duser, United States of America – Ten Movements, Crocus Waltz, and The Butterfly Maker
  • 2020 Ms. Dale Kavanagh, Canada – A Breeze through the Leaves, Washing Waves Against the Stone, and A Day on Sylt
  • 2021 Mr. Kareem McCullough, United States of America –  Under Quarantine: Isolation, Under Quarantine: Boredom, and Under Quarantine: Music for Tomorrow
  • 2022 Mr. Kevin Cope, United States of America, – Shifting Sands No. 1, Shifting Sands No. 2, and Shifting Sands No. 3
  • 2023 Ms. Candice Mowbray, United States of America – Prestissimo: Homage to Ida Presti, Mimita: Homage to Maria Luisa Anido, Little Songbird: A Viennese Fantasie in Homage to Luise Walker

The Juries of the MGI Myrna Sislen Youth Guitar Competition



  • 2007 Dr. Glenn Caluda (VA), Dr. Michael Quantz (TX), & Mr. Rene Gonzalez (FL)

  • 2008 Dr. Glenn Caluda (VA), Mr. Rene Gonzalez (FL), & Mr. Nat Gunod (CT)

  • 2009 Mr. Nat Gunod (CT), Dr. Matthew Hinsley, & Mr. Jeff Cogan (CA)

  • 2010 Mr. Manley Mallard (IL), Ms. Kami Rowan (NC), & Mr. Jeff Cogan (CA)

  • 2011 Dr. Matthew Hinsley (TX), Ms. Kami Rowan (NC), & Mr. Manley Mallard (IL)

  • 2012 Mr. Ernesto Cordero (PR), Mr. Frank Wallace (NH), & Mr. John Arnold (PA)

  • 2013 Mr. Ricardo Iznaola (CO), Mr. Rupert Boyd (NY), & Mr. John Arnold (PA)

  • 2014 Mr. Rodney Stucky (OH), Ms. Kim Perlak (MA), & Mr. Petar Kodzas (NY)

  • 2015 Ms. Joanne Castellani (NY), Mr. Frank Koonce (AZ), Mr. Yuri Liberzon (CA)

  • 2016 Mr. Kerry Alt (LA), Ms. Andrea Cannon (TX), & Mr. Michael Andriaccio (NY)

  • 2017 Mr. Jeremy Lutty (MD), Mr. John Arnold (PA), Mr. Timothy Olbrych (VA), Dr. Raphael Scarfullery (VA), Ms. Michele Horner (NY), & Mr. Joseph Mayes (NJ)

  • 2018 Ms. Pamela Kimmel (IL), Mr. Christopher Ladd (CT), & Ms. Lynn McGrath (NY)

  • 2019 Ms. Kathleen Hayes (NJ), Mr. Denis Azabagic (IL), & Mr. Bruce Holzman (FL)

  • 2020 Ms. Gohar Vardanyan (NY), Ms. Laura Oltman (NJ), & Mr. Michael Newman (NJ)

  • 2021 Ms. Kathrin Murray (MD), Mr. Kevin Cope (PA), & Mr. Troy King (MD)

  • 2022 Ms. Berta Rojas (MA), Ms. Magdalena Duhagon (MD), Dr. Olga Amelkina-Vera (TX), & Mr. Thomas Kikta (PA)

  • 2023 Dr. Elina Chekan (WI), Dr. Andrew Zohn (GA), & Mr. René Izquierdo (WI)

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Instrument of Peace

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