Over three days this March, the Southwest Guitar Symposium (SWGS) will return to UTSA to showcase the versatility of the classical guitar and enable networking among musicians, guitar makers and music lovers alike. The symposium, San Antonio’s largest classical guitar festival, will include performances and masterclasses led by internationally renowned guitarists and highly competitive solo guitar contests between rising artists of all ages.

The symposium will also welcome guitar luthiers and shops. They will display and sell their beautiful instruments on campus during the symposium’s Southwest Luthier and Vendor Expo.

“I am excited to welcome our guest artists and Symposium participants to our annual guitar celebration here at UTSA,” said Isaac Bustos, the symposium’s artistic director. “The Southwest Guitar Symposium is now on its fifth edition, and this year we’re bringing artists from Mexico and Costa Rica including Grammy award-winning American guitarist William Kanengiser.”

The guitar event traces its roots in a history spanning more than two decades. It was originally established as the Southwest Guitar Festival in 1991 by guitar professors Gerald Klickstein (UTSA), Adam Holzman (UT Austin), and William Gangel (Texas State). At the time, it was the only festival of its kind in Texas.

Former UTSA guitar professor Matthew Dunne took over as the festival’s director in 1995. Dunne built on the success of his predecessors to make the event the largest acoustic guitar festival in the United States, spanning over six different venues across San Antonio in 2000. Bustos himself was a competitor in the festival’s 2007 edition and was later invited back as a guest performer in 2009. Following Dunne’s retirement in 2018 and a long nine-year hiatus, Bustos brought the event back in 2020 to its current incarnation as the SWGS.

UTSA will hold the symposium March 8-10. This year’s featured En Vivo Guest Artists include Pablo Garibay, William Kanengiser, Jay Kacherski and Cuarteto de Guitarras de la Ciudad de México. Faculty artists performing include Dúo Fortis (Alejandro Montiel and Isaac Bustos) and Tracy Cowden, who will all perform on the symposium’s first night on Friday, March 8.

The 2024 Southwest Solo Guitar Competition will take place throughout the weekend as young guitarists compete for prizes in two rounds; both will be open for public viewing. It features competitors in two categories, High School and Open Division. The first-place winner of each division will receive a paid return engagement at Southwest Guitar Symposium 2025. Adrian Montero and Wyatt Green, who won the Southwest Solo Guitar Competition last year, will be giving their return performances at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.

Additionally, all second-round finalists in the Open Division contest will receive cash prizes. First place finishers in that competition will earn paid performance opportunities at Austin Classical Guitar and Lone Star College.