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Fifteen Competitors Selected for 2019 Parkening Guitar Competition

Parkening International Guitar Competition - Pepperdine UniversityThe world's preeminent classical guitar competition, the Parkening International Guitar Competition, has selected 15 standout competitors for its fifth triennial competition. Representing six countries, they will vie for the largest prize purse among guitar competitions, performing at Pepperdine University from Thursday, May 30, through Saturday, June 1, at the Malibu campus. 

Renowned guitar virtuoso Christopher Parkening, the competition's namesake and artistic director, is a distinguished professor of music at Seaver College. The competition honors his lifetime commitment to fostering musical excellence in young artists as demonstrated by his mentor, Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia.

“We are thrilled to bring such a diverse range of young guitarists from all over the world here to Southern California for what is sure to be an extraordinary week of music,” says Rebecca Carson, executive director for the Parkening International Guitar Competition and managing director for the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts. “Our competitors are united by their passion for classical guitar and by their love of music. We are looking forward to welcoming all of them to Pepperdine.”

The 15 competitors, who range in age from 19 to 29 years old, are among the international community's most talented guitarists:

  • Bokyung Byun, 24

Los Angeles, California, United States

  • Riccardo Calogiuri, 29


  • Javier García Verdugo, 25


  • Samuel Hines, 27

Mora, Minnesota, United States

  • Alec Holcomb, 23

Carmel, Indiana, United States

  • Junhong Kuang, 19 

Baltimore, Maryland, United States

  • Beiyan Liu, 20


  • Christopher Mrofchak, 27 

Tallahassee, Florida, United States 

  • Cody Noriega, 26

Riverside, California, United States

  • Alex Park, 26 

Culver City, California, United States

  • Miguel Checa Paz, 20


  • Sergey Perelekhov, 21 


  • Andrea Roberto, 23 


  • Marko Topchii, 28 


  • Tengyue Zhang, 25


Judging the competition will be Mia Bongiovanni, assistant general manager of media and presentations for the Metropolitan Opera; Charlotte Lee, president and founder of Primo Artists; Steve Schoen, former vice president of Sony Music Masterworks and Sony/BMG; David Thomas, recording producer; and Pablo Sáinz Villegas, classical guitar virtuoso and winner of the 2006 Parkening International Guitar Competition.

Three of the competitors will advance to the final round on Saturday, June 1, to perform a concerto with the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra before a live audience at Smothers Theatre. The gold, silver, and bronze medalists will be announced at the conclusion of the final round.

In addition to the Parkening International Guitar Competition, Pepperdine will present the Parkening Young Guitarist Competition on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 28 and 29, to 10 competitors: 

  • Hilbert Chen, 10 

Cupertino, California, United States

  • Maggie Grether, 15 

Pasadena, California, United States 

  • Joseph Malvinni, 11 

Santa Barbara, California, United States 

  • Mira Morales, 14

Los Altos, California, United States 

  • Evelyn Nguyen, 16 

Monrovia, California, United States 

  • Garrett Podgorski, 17 

Burbank, California, United States 

  • Nikolas Rejto, 17 


  • Eric Wang, 14 

San Jose, California, United States 

  • Darren Wu, 16 

San Jose, California, United States

  • Hui Chan Yun, 16 

South Korea                

About the Parkening Competition

The competition, which debuted in 2006, offers the largest prize purse of any classical guitar competition in the world, with competitors vying for cash awards that total in excess of $65,000. After three days of intense public performances, the winner of the Parkening International Guitar Competition receives a gold medal, the Jack Marshall Prize of $30,000, and the most prestigious title in classical guitar. The 2019 Parkening Competition is made possible by a generous grant from Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, as well as Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy.

Christopher Parkening is celebrated as one of the world's preeminent virtuosos of the classical guitar. For over 40 years his concerts and recordings have received the highest worldwide acclaim. Parkening is recognized as heir to the legacy of Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia. He has performed at the White House, appeared with Placido Domingo on Live from Lincoln Center, participated in the Carnegie Hall 100th anniversary celebration, and performed twice on the internationally televised Grammy Awards, and has appeared on many nationally broadcast television programs. 

The celebrated guitarist has collaborated with composers John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Joaquin Rodrigo, F. Moreno Torroba, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and premiered new concert works in an effort to keep the guitar in the musical forefront. He has been guest soloist with the finest orchestras in the United States, including the Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Minnesota orchestras, the Chicago, Pittsburgh, and National symphony orchestras, the Detroit, Houston, Oregon, and St. Louis symphonies, the New York Philharmonic, the St. Paul and Los Angeles chamber orchestras, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

Parkening is the recipient of two Grammy nominations in the category of Best Classical Recording for Parkening and the Guitar and The Pleasures of Their Company, a collaboration with soprano Kathleen Battle. He was given the acclaimed American Academy of Achievement Award for excellence in the field of music. He also was presented with the 2000 Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Classical Guitarist and the 2003 University Musical Society's Distinguished Artist Award.

For additional information about the Parkening International Guitar Competition, visit the Center for the Arts website.