Jazz Guitarist Emmet Sher Places Second in 2019 Śmietana Competition

July 8, 2019

Conservatory Communications Staff

guitarist Emmet Sher
Photo credit: courtesy Emmet Sher

Avid performer took part in final rounds held in Kraków, Poland.

Jazz guitar major Emmet Sher ’20 participated in the third Jarek Śmietana Competition in Kraków, Poland, earning second place among a field of 50 participants. Sher was one of 11 who advanced to the semifinals in Kraków, where the competition was held from June 26 through 29, 2019.

“We all had to play a short set in front of a small audience and in front of six judges, including Mike Stern and Peter Bernstein, who are two of the most renowned guitarists alive,” says Sher. “We all had to play three songs in total: One required composition by Jarek Śmietana, a famous Polish jazz guitarist [after which the competition is named], and two pieces of our choice. A rhythm section was provided, so everyone performed in a trio. We all watched each other’s auditions, which was stressful, but it was also really interesting to hear other musicians from all over the world with similar interests and influences.”

Six guitarists were selected to move on to the finals, in which each participant played a different three-song set. 

“After the finals, we all had a jam session and hung out until they announced the awards at midnight," Sher says. "All the finalists got some type of award because the jury felt the level of talent was too high overall to not recognize all of the guitarists.” 

For the rest of his summer, Sher will be heading to California to teach at the Brubeck Institute summer jazz colony and taking part in a Midwest tour with the Oberlin student-founded band Frisson.

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