ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival Unveils 2019 Artist Lineup

Article Contributed by LiveLoud | Published on Tuesday, April 30, 2019

On September 5, 6, and 7, 2019, a diverse and exciting curation of the world’s most remarkable guitarists will gather for the eighth installment of ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival, presented by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Situated in a vibrant micro-urban setting, the internationally recognized, biennial event features “a prodigious array of the world’s most distinctive and influential guitarists” from around the globe (Premier Guitar). 2019 ELLNORA artists hail from Madagascar, Niger, Korea, Gambia, France,  Bosnia, China, Brazil, Germany, and throughout the United States, representing a broad spectrum of musical genres, instrumental traditions, and playing styles.

This year’s ELLNORA features nearly 30 performances, including 15+ free events, across seven stages. In addition to the four indoor theatres of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Center’s expansive 1.5-acre lobby is perfectly suited to hosting performances—both informal and formal—that showcase the festival’s impressive range. This incarnation of ELLNORA hosts 13 ticketed events including performances by award-winning blues legend Buddy Guy, French-born gypsy jazz musician and ELLNORA alumnus Stephane Wrembel, ever-revolutionary musical influencer Pat Metheny, classical guitarists Bokyung Byun and Jason Vieaux, and genre- and culture-fusing Rafiq Bhatia. Uncommon combinations also abound at ELLNORA with both a guitar/clarinet performance (Anat Cohen and Marcello Gonçalves) and the Balkan music guitar/accordion duo Aritmia (with Merima Ključo and Miroslav Tadić).

Grammy Award-winning slack key guitar player Jeff Peterson, avant-garde jazz trio The Messthetics, and family-friendly favorite Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band are among the artists featured in the 8+ free performance-based events. Special festival amenities for 2019 include Sonic Meditation events, a live podcast with Steve Dawson (an ELLNORA alumnus who performed his own composition with the Jupiter String Quartet at Krannert Center’s 50th-anniversary weekend in April 2019), a live broadcast of Illinois Public Media’s program The 21st, Saturday morning yoga with live accompaniment, a workshop and panel discussion with luthier Rachel Rosenkrantz, and more.

The free Opening Night Party on Thursday, September 5, kicks off with music by Madagascar-based supergroup Toko Telo, whose members perform sparkling, island-inspired folk compositions. Niger-born artist Bombino follows with a sizzling set of North African desert blues. ELLNORA alumni Luther Dickinson and Samantha Fish will close out the Opening Night Party with rollicking tunes that showcase Dickinson’s powerful slide style and Fish’s scorching blues. The event marks the start of Krannert Center’s 50th season.

ELLNORA, which bears the name of its venue’s visionary founder, Ellnora Krannert, provides a vital showcase for some of today’s most prominent female artists. The lineup for 2019 includes the first professional female kora player, Sona Jobarteh, multidisciplinary explorer Kaki King (performing the Krannert Center co-commissioned DATA NOT FOUND), cumbia- and Latin-inspired ensemble Sávila featuring She Shreds founder Fabi Reyna, rock-and-roll band The Bluebonnets, the return of 2017 ELLNORA standout Samantha Fish, bluegrass phenom Molly Tuttle, folk guitarist Julia Toaspern, and other exciting performers.

Originally known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival before being rechristened ELLNORA in 2009, the event is organized by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ director, Mike Ross, and the Center’s staff in collaboration with curator and artistic advisor David Spelman, who is also founder/artistic director of the world-renowned New York Guitar Festival. In the years since its debut, ELLNORA has served as a model for other events in the United States and around the world.

View a short film about ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmyByay0y2c


(Descriptions available at EllnoraGuitarFestival.com and KrannertCenter.com)


6pm Opening Night Party

6pm & 7:30pm Toko Telo 

6:30pm Bombino 

8pm Samantha Fish with Luther Dickinson

9:30pm Spontaneous Combustion with Luther Dickinson, Steve Dawson, Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, and Molly Tuttle


11am The 21st Live with Niala Boodhoo

12pm Across the Sea: Jeff Peterson, Greg Sardinha, Tsun-Hui Hung

1:30pm Panel Discussion with Fabi Reyna

2:45pm Live Podcast—Music Makers and Soul Shakers with Steve Dawson

4pm Panel Discussion with Rachel Rosenkrantz, luthier: Innovation in Playing, Innovation in Building

5pm Sona Jobarteh

6pm Molly Tuttle and Steve Dawson

7:30pm Kaki King: DATA NOT FOUND

8pm & 10pm Stephane Wrembel Band

9pm Pat Metheny Side Eye

10:30pm The Messthetics


9am Yoga with GLOW by Lola

10am Danny Weinkauf and the Red Pants Band

10:15am Stephane Wrembel Solo

11am Bokyung Byun and Jason Vieaux

11am Workshop with Rachel Rosenkrantz, luthier: Anatomy of Sound

12:30pm Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley

1:30pm Sávila

2:30pm Anat Cohen and Marcello Gonçalves; Aritmia: Merima Ključo and Miroslav Tadić

2:30pm & 4pm Danilo Brito Quartet

5pm The Bluebonnets

5pm & 8pm Sonic Meditation

6pm Tony McManus and Julia Toaspern

7:15pm & 9pm Rafiq Bhatia

8:30pm Buddy Guy

10pm Brandon T. Washington and Friends


Event tickets go on sale to the public at 10am on Saturday, July 20.

Ticket prices vary. Visit EllnoraGuitarFestival.com for details.

Donations are welcome throughout the festival to help make ELLNORA programming possible.