Kaufman Music Center Announces 25th Annual New York Guitar Festival

Article Contributed by Shore Fire Media | Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Today, Kaufman Music Center announces the 25th annual New York Guitar Festival, which will be held at KMC’s esteemed venue, Merkin Hall from June 14-15th, 2024. The festival is co-presented by Kaufman Music Center, World Music Institute, New York Guitar Festival, and New Sounds Live.

Exploring virtually every aspect of the guitar’s personality since 1999, the New York Guitar Festival has presented many of the world’s most influential guitarists at iconic NYC venues large and small. From multi Grammy-winners to emerging artists, NYGF performers have included masters of the classical repertoire as well as blues, jazz, pop, indie, folk and Americana as well as sounds of Central and South America and genre-defying innovators.

The festival is hosted by WNYC’s John Schaefer and will include a wide range of performances across the two days from artists like Marc Ribot & Leyla McCalla, Yasmin Williams, Neel Murgai, Kunal Prakash, Medicine Singers, Lee Ranaldo, Yonatan Gat, Maalem Hassan BenJaafar, Mamady Kouyaté and additional special guests.

Buy tickets here: https://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/

Friday, June 14th’s programming is hosted by WNYC's John Schaefer and will include performances from Marc Ribot & Leyla McCalla, Yasmin Williams, Neel Murgai & Kunal Prakash.

**The duo of Marc Ribot, the New York guitarist, and Leyla McCalla, the New Orleans cellist and banjo player, may seem unlikely at first. Ribot is known for his work with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, his own avant-noise trio Ceramic Dog and much more; McCalla writes songs that draw on the African-American string band tradition, Cajun music and her own Haitian heritage. But Ribot was also a student of the Haitian classical guitarist/composer Frantz Casseus, and the two musicians share a strong genre-agnostic streak.

**Yasmin Williams has extended the “tapping” technique into a whole new way of approaching the guitar, and occasionally adds tap shoes and kalimba to the sound, becoming a literal one-woman band.

**Sitarist Neel Murgai, co-director of the globally-inspired Brooklyn Raga Massive, is accompanied by Jeff The Brotherhood guitarist Kunal Prakash.

Saturday, June 15th’s programming includes the Medicine Singers, Lee Ranaldo & Yonatan Gat, Maalem Hassan BenJaafar, Mamady Kouyaté and additional special guests.

**Medicine Singers is the name of an ongoing collaboration between Yonatan Gat, the wildly virtuosic Israeli-born, New York-based guitarist, and the Eastern Medicine Singers, an Eastern Algonquin pow wow group from Rhode Island.

**Now joined by the legendary Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Medicine Singers combines ancient trance and spirituality with modern psychedelia, and makes inventive use of the similarities – and differences – between the steady pulse of Indigenous American drumming and the rhythms of rock.

**Maalem Hassan BenJaafar is the lead singer and Artistic Director of Innov Gnawa. As Maalem he teaches the other members of the band and they perform in clubs, festivals, museums, universities, schools and other venues in the New York area and throughout the USA, including Coachella, Lincoln Center and Red Rocks Amphitheater. Internationally, they perform in venues including La Renaissance Theater in Rabat, the Ganga Gnawa Festival in Taroudant, Morocco and the Amare Gnawa Festival in The Hague. In November, 2017 Maalem Hassan and Innov Gnawa were nominated for a Grammy in Dance/Electronic for Bonobo Featuring Innov Gnawa: Bambra Koyo Ganda, a song that Maalem Hassan adapted from traditional repertoire.

**The Mandingo Ambassadors was founded in New York City by griot-guitarist Mamady Kouyaté in 2005. As a veteran of the great orchestras of the golden age of Guinean dance bands, Mamady Kouyaté is a living library of musical science inherited from his ancestors and from a half century of experience as an arranger, band leader, accompanist and soloist. Kouyaté carried this heritage with him to New York, where he has collaborated with members of the West African diaspora and Western musicians to continue the great tradition and sound of Guinean Afro-jazz. Since 2008 the group has been in residence at Barbes, performing every Wednesday night at this well-known Brooklyn venue. In addition, they have performed at many clubs, events and festivals including Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Celebrate Brooklyn and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.


Kaufman Music Center is the premier destination for learning and listening to music in New York City. Their schools offer outstanding education in music, dance, and theater to people of all ages and experience levels, along with their intimate performance hall that presents world-renowned artists. Established with the mission of providing access without barriers, the Center proudly programs a comprehensive musical experience for students, performers and audiences in New York and beyond. Merkin Hall, the Center’s performance venue, provides unparalleled access to today’s most compelling artists, workshops and competitions, offering students, artists and audiences alike the chance to share music at the highest level. Its acclaimed Artist-in-Residence program also gives those performers the resources to develop groundbreaking, multidisciplinary projects as well as educational opportunities to mentor and inspire. Kaufman Music Center continuously cultivates and nurtures new generations of artists through Special Music School, New York’s only K-12 public school prioritizing an intensive, immersive and musically-focused education without financial barriers, as well as Lucy Moses School, Manhattan’s largest community performing arts school for students of all ages.