National Fingerpicking Championship won by Classical Virtuoso
Michael Chapdelaine, who chairs the Guitar Department at the University of New Mexico, took First Prize at the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship in at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas on September 17, 1998.
Prior to winning the Championship, Chapdelaine had also won top honors in four international guitar competitions, including First Prize in the Guitar Foundation of America Competition. He has been awarded two National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Fellowships and holds a Master of Music degree from Florida State University.
Chapdelaine, who has studied with Andres Segovia, earned the distinction of winning this 20th annual fingerstyle championship, traditionally dominated by steel string players, while playing on a nylon string classical guitar. He bested an international field of 38 guitarist by playing a broad spectrum of musical genres ranging from traditional South American dance music to his own fingerstyle compositions, which included a blues number he calls Blue Chile. "The biggest thrill about winning Winfield was seeing how much people like my new pieces," Chapdelaine said. His original compositions, which he has only recently introduced to the public, bring together a broad variety of musical styles from classical to country to blues. "I grew up playing pop music in Navy clubs....I needed to find a way to mix the groove and fun of that music with the discipline and expressive beauty of classical music."
The release of his Sonata Romantica CD (recently acquired by Sony) brought Chapdelaine's artistry to the attention of the president at Time-Life Music and led to the signing of a three double CD contract to arrange, produce and record a collection of romantic popular favorites. The first 4 CDs, called Guitar by Moonlight and Romantic Guitar, sold several hundred thousand copies in just the first two years of retail sales. "I am thrilled with this project", Chapdelaine said, "I get notes from people from all over the world...it's not important to them that I studied with Segovia or that I'm a professor, they just love the music..what could be better than that?"
Chapdelaine's newest CD project of original compositions entitled "Land of Enchantment, is what he describes as "a musical portrait of my life in New Mexico, fashioned from the experiences, musical styles and techniques that I have known over the years."