Hailed as “one of the world’s most forward-thinking guitar festivals,” (Fretboard Journal) ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival held at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on the University of Illinois campus September 5-7 celebrated its fifth installment this past weekend. With nearly 30 performances – including 11 free shows and 11 ticketed events – the biennial event hosted a truly international cast of players in the vibrant micro-urban city of Champaign-Urbana, IL and welcomed more than 11,500 music fans throughout the weekend.Renowned for incredible acoustic spaces, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus offers an enviable variety of state-of-the-art performance spaces. Every other year, ELLNORA brings an amazingly diverse hand-picked lineup to these incredible venues, offering a “festival” experience unlike any other.This year’s highlights included the spirited Opening Night Party with soulful Aussie Fiona Boyes, a picking party with the Sam Bush and Del McCoury duo, striking gypsy-Jazz offerings from Stephane Wrembel, and the “get up and dance” rhythms of The Lee Boys. The weekend carried on with driving flamenco energy from Del Castillo, the indie-rock styling’s of J. Spaceman, eclectic jams from John Scofield UberJam Band, and a captivating performance by legendary bluesman Buddy Guy – to name a few. ELLNORA 2013 was rounded out on the final day by a performance with moving Hindustani slide-guitar master Debashish Bhattacharya, Andalusian flamenco ambassador Paco Peña, the rocking Zappa Plays Zappa, the raw country guitarist Lucinda Williams and much more. Please click here to see the full lineup for this year’s event.Austin-based dobro/steel master and now four-time festival alum Cindy Cashdollar rounded out the festival lineup as ELLNORA’s second-ever Artist-in-Residence. Cashdollar lent her imaginative virtuosity to collaborations with Fiona Boyes, The Lee Boys, Luther Dickinson and The Wandering, and Kaki King. She also stopped by local spot Corson’s Local Guitar Store for a lap-steel workshop, and hosted a Talkback with Australian guitar-bouzouki hybrid player Andreas Aase and South African nylon-string classical guitarist Derek Gripper.This year’s installment of ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival also reflected Krannert Center’s authentic involvement of the local Champaign-Urbana community. This commitment to the local music landscape was evident not only in the many free shows offered by ELLNORA but by several other elements of ELLNORA’s programming. Beloved family-musician Dan Zanes participated in three days of community youth programming in Champaign-Urbana’s local elementary schools, which included a variety of workshops and events for children of all ages. Tuesday night saw local rockers Timmy D and Blind Justice, Brandon Washington, Gloria Roubal and Paul Sabuco ignite the ELLNORA stage. In a similar vein of community pride, The Art Theater Co-op presented Robert Zimmerman’s CU music scene documentary, Out of Nowhere.