The students of Manuel Barrueco standing in a line

Andrea Gonzalez Caballero (Spain)

Considered one of today’s most acclaimed young guitarists, Andrea stands out for her character and sensitivity. She has received more than twenty international prizes such as the First Prize and the Special Prize “Carla Minen” at the “XL International Competition F. Sor” in Rome, First Prize at the “XIII Alhambra International Guitar Competition,” being the youngest guitarist to achieve it, and the Honorary Prize David Russell for young talents to name a few.

She has been invited to perform in festivals such as the Guitar Festival of San Diego (USA), International Guitar Festival of Szeged (Hungary), Guitar Festival of Monterrey (Mexico), Festival Isaac Nicola in Havana (Cuba) and Viva la Guitarra in Düsseldorf (Germany) where she played as soloist with the “Sinfonietta Ratingen” orchestra the and the conductor Thomas Gabrisch, and in 2016, Andrea was selected by the International Guitar Foundation of London, for a UK tour with concerts in venues such as King’s Cross in London and in 2017 she made her debut in China in a concert tour spanning six cities around the country.

In 2017 Andrea released a CD on Naxos combining new guitar compositions dedicated to her by J. Clerch, and works by Albéniz, Tárrega, and Britten.

Andrea has been supported by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), AIE (Society of Performing Artists of Spain) and Provincial Council of Guipuzcoa to study at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf (Germany), where she graduated with honors. Andrea is now pursuing a Graduate Performance Diploma in the studio of Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory.

Jennifer Kim (USA)

Hailed by Pepe Romero as a “wonderful musician and guitarist” who he believes will “grow into a great artist,” Jennifer Kim is already developing an international reputation at the young age of seventeen for her stunning virtuosity and sensitive musicality.

She was a Grand Prize Winner of the 25th annual Spotlight Awards held in May 2013, won the first prize in the Indiana International Guitar Competition Senior Youth Division, a shared first prize at the Pacific Arts Guitar Competition, the American String Teachers Association California State and Regional Junior competitions, and recently, she was a prize winner at the inaugural Classics Alive Competition. At the young age of eleven, Jennifer was awarded fourth place in the Guitar Foundation of America International Youth Competition and was selected as a finalist in the 2011 ASTA National Competition. In 2012, Jennifer was awarded 3rd place in the Christopher Parkening International Young Guitarist Competition, at 13, the youngest competitor.

Jennifer’s concerts include performing the “Concierto de Aranjuez” by Rodrigo at the 90th Gala Celebration of the American Guitar Society in 2013, and again in March of 2014 with the Mill Valley Philharmonic under conductor Laurie Cohen.  In 2015, Jennifer toured for the Piatigorsky Foundation, and during the 2016-2017 season, Jennifer makes her debut with the Bartlesville Symphony in addition to several solo recitals throughout the season.

Jennifer began classical guitar studies with her father when she was eight, and from2008 until 2016 she has studied with Jack Sanders. Currently, Jennifer is in the studio of Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree.

Junhong Kuang (China)

17-year-old Junhong Kuang, has achieved tremendous notoriety in a very short amount of time. He began receiving professional training in classical guitar under the guidance of Professor Xu Bao in 2009. Two years later, he won first prize in the Thailand International Guitar Competition, and shortly thereafter, he was awarded a prize for best interpretation of a Spanish work and a work by J. S. Bach, at the Iserlohn International Guitar Competition in Germany. In May 2016, he won the Peggy and Yale Gordon Concerto Competition at Peabody.

In 2017, Junhong Kuang was the youngest prizewinner in the history of the prestigious ARD Music Competition in Munich, Germany, where he received the 2nd prize (1st vacant), as well as the Audience Prize and the ifp-Music Prize.

Junhong Kuang has given almost a hundred concerts in his young life, including a New York debut recital at Carnegie Recital Hall, Oriental Art Centre Hall in Shanghai, and Beijing Poly Theatre, to name a few. In August 2014 he was invited to give the opening concert at the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium in Germany.

Junhong has worked with conductors such as Hu Yongyan, Fu Long, Peng Jiapeng, and Chen Lin, and has performed as soloist with the Symphony Orchestra of Dance and Theatre in Beijing, the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Sichuan Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Junhong Kuang was accepted into college at the age of 15, and is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Music degree at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, under the tutelage of the legendary maestro, Manuel Barrueco.

Mengyi Li (China)

Mengyi Li was born in Huaihua, in the province of Hunan, China in 1993. He began studying the classical guitar at the age of 4 with his father.

From 2009 to 2015, Mengyi studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, with professor Chen Zhi and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree.

Mengyi completed his Master of Music degree at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in 2017, and is now continuing his studies in the Graduate Performance Diploma program with Manuel Barrueco.

Connor Milstead (USA)

Connor Milstead was born in Richmond, VA, and grew up in Annapolis, MD, and Bradenton, FL. He began studying classical guitar at the age of eleven with Douglas Seth and Rex Willis. In 2017, he received his Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance and Music Theory at Florida State University where he studied with renowned pedagogue Bruce Holzman.

Connor has had the privilege of performing as a soloist with the Treasure Coast Guitar Society, being featured in several events by the Sarasota, Seven Hills, and Florida State guitar societies, as well as performing in master classes led by Pavel Steidl, Judicaël Perroy, Thomas Kirchoff, among many others. He now lives in Baltimore, MD, and is pursuing a Master’s in Guitar Performance with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory.”

Ruben Portillo (Uruguay)

Renowned for his dedication and sincere love for guitar music, Ruben Portillo has been praised as “one of the most gifted guitarists” by Berta Rojas. Ruben has won a number of competitions in his native Paraguay, including first prizes in the Momento Musical Competition, Young Talent Competition and Takuare’e Competition. Other top awards include an Honorable Mention by the Lago Ypacarai Festival and the Organization of Takuare’e.

Ruben is frequently invited by different organizations/foundations to play. He also was a member of the Ensemble “Pu Rory” directed by Berta Rojas and had been doing collaborations with other guitarist such as Connor Milstead and Jennifer Kim.

Ruben Portillo comes from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, and started playing guitar at the age of 7. He first studied with Agustin Zaracho and Marcos Quevedo in his city Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. In 2012 he decided to start traveling every weekend to another city of his country called Asunción to study with Felipe Sosa, Marcelo Sosa, and Berta Rojas. In 2017 he moved to United States to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree in the studio of Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Institute.

Shon Stelman (Israel-USA)

Shon Stelman was born in 1996 in Hadera, Israel. At the age of 10, he discovered a passion for classical music and was encouraged by his parents to start playing a musical instrument. He chose the guitar and began taking lessons from Dalit and Marcelo Raij.

In December 2007, he immigrated with his family to the United States and continued his guitar lessons with Mikhail Sytchev.

In 2009, Shon received first price in the Granquist Memorial Music Competition, and he has participated three times in the International Youth Competition held annually by Guitar Foundation of America, where he received second place in 2012, as well as first place at the SAM Competition in Chicago.

In his senior year in high school, Shon had the honor and privilege of performing solo on Chicago’s classical music radio station WFMT, and later that the year he performed Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” with his school orchestra.

Shon has achieved high scores for participating in IHSA for his school and has participated in several master classes for Brian Torosian and Eliot Fisk at the Boston Guitar Festival, where he also took part in a competition.

He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in the studio of Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.

Jonathan Zwi (Brazil-USA)  (DIP)

Originally a violinist, Jonathan Zwi began playing the classical guitar at the age of 18, when he found a passion for the instrument during his undergraduate studies at Indiana University-Bloomington. He completed his Bachelor of Music degree under the direction of José Antonio López, Julio Ribeiro, and Ernesto Bitetti.

In addition to his degree in music, Jonathan also received degrees in philosophy and cognitive science. He was the recipient of several research fellowships at both Indiana and Yale Universities and has presented his work at research conferences across the United States. In 2002, he won a grant from the NIH to conduct research on the structural connectivity of the macaque cerebral cortex with Olaf Sporns, with whom he co-authored a paper that was subsequently published in Neuroinformatics.

In June of 2007, Jonathan moved to Brazil to focus on the guitar and re-identify with his heritage, and, in July, he won first place in the first Eustáquio Grilo International Guitar Competition. As part of his award he toured Brazil, performing concerts in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia.

During his time in Brazil, Jonathan was a student at the School of Music at the Federal University of Bahia under the guidance of Mario Ulloa. He was also enrolled in the University’s School of Fine Arts, specializing in printmaking, silkscreen, and photography and has shown his work in various exhibits and galleries throughout Salvador, Bahia. He has continued to exhibit his work upon returning to the United States.

Jonathan Zwi has been the recipient of the Richard Franko Goldman Prize for Performance as well as the Presser Foundation Award. He completed his master’s degree under the guidance of Ray Chester and is currently a candidate in the doctoral program under Manuel Barrueco.

Jonathan Zwi is on the faculty at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.