Wilson Center
Guitar Competition & Festival

The Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival is an annual, multi-genre competition which features four different categories—Rock/Blues, Fingerstyle, Jazz, and Classical. Four competitions, one festival. Contestants compete for $22,000 in prize money!

Congratulations to the 2014 Guitar Competition & Festival Winners!


First Place: Jernej Bervar (Maribor, Slovenia)
Second Place: Mark Mendoza
(Whitefish Bay, WI)
Third Place: Christopher Schuck
(Brookfield, WI)


First Place: Gabriel Andrews (Avonsleigh, Australia)
Second Place: Brock Camden
(Burlington, Canada)
Third Place: Rachael Carlson
(Milwaukee, WI)


First Place: Gabriel Condon (Penfield, NY)
Second Place: Robert Andrew Corder, Jr.
(Los Angeles, CA)
Third Place: Matthew Rotker-Lynn
(Milwaukee, WI)


First Place: Steve Cowan (Montreal, Canada)
Second Place: Mark Edwards
(Baltimore, MD)
Third Place: Xavier Jara
(Arlington, MN)

Guitarists from seven countries and 21 states competed in the second annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival, which took place August 14-16 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

The competition showcased guitarists competing in four separate genres—classical, jazz, fingerstyle and rock/blues. First place ($3,000 cash prize), second place ($1,500 cash prize) and third place ($1,000 cash prize) winners were awarded in each genre.

The first place winner of the classical competition was Canadian Steve Cowan, a Montreal-based guitarist currently pursuing his DMA with master teacher Jerome Ducharme. American Gabe Condon was the first place winner of the jazz competition. Condon is a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music, and has an upcoming CD titled I’ve Never Been in Love Before (Like I am Now). Australian Gabriel Andrews, who studies locally with UW-Milwaukee guitar department chair John Stropes, took first place in the fingerstyle competition. Taking first place in the rock/blues competition was Jernej Bervar, a Slovenian guitarist studying at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA.

In addition to the competition, the festival featured evening performances. Milwaukee guitarist Greg Koch headlined the festival on Friday, August 15, and Canadian rumba flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook performed on Saturday, August 16 at the Wilson Center’s Gerlach-Haack Outdoor Theater.

This year’s festival activities also included free master classes by jazz guitarist Jack Grassel and classical guitarist Anne Waller, and a question and answer session with featured performer Jesse Cook. 

Local music vendors were showcased in the Kuttemperoor Grand Hall, filling the space with almost 100 fine instruments. Featured vendors included Cascio Interstate Music, who presented the 60th Anniversary Stratocaster display by Fender; Hartland Music, who displayed Breedlove Guitars; luthiers Bruce and Matt Petros; and classical guitar dealer Jonathan Marshall.

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