On September 10, 11, and 12, 2015, a stunning display of the world’s most remarkable and significant guitarists will gather for the sixth installment of ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival, presented by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Situated in a vibrant micro-urban setting, the internationally recognized, biennial event features, “a prodigious array of the world’s most distinctive and influential guitarists” (Premier Guitar) from around the globe, including for 2015 artists rooted in Mali, Australia, China, Spain, Palestine, India, Mexico, and from throughout the United States.  Tickets are on sale now at www.ellnoraguitarfestival.com

ELLNORA is anything but your typical music festival. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts incorporates seven unique, state-of-the-art performance spaces—both indoor and outdoor, both formal and informal—that make it particularly well suited to showcase the festival’s impressive range. This year’s incarnation of ELLNORA incorporates 11 individually ticketed events including performances by Rodrigo y Gabriela, Punch Brothers, Los Lobos, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Dan Zanes, and Drive-By Truckers, along with at least 11 free shows (including concerts by John Scofield and Jon Cleary, Valerie June, Andy McKee, Earth, David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot, and Jessica Lea Mayfield).

For 2015, ELLNORA will once again feature an artist-in-residence. Triple Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin is an ELLNORA alum whose incredible career has included over 25 albums and the distinction of founding the Juilliard School’s guitar department, in addition to currently helming the guitar department at the Aspen Music Festival. Isbin, whose work spans baroque, Latin, and jazz-fusion, is also a noted author, recipient of Guitar Player’s “Best Classical Guitarist” award, and subject of the one-hour documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour which will be shown along with a question and answer session featuring Isbin herself at The Art Theater in Champaign the evening before ELLNORA begins.

 2011’s artist-in-residence Luther Dickinson will also return, this time with brother Cody for an opening night Southern blues set by their North Mississippi Allstars incarnation. The $5 Opening Night Party will also include sets of electrifying sacred steel blues from the AJ Ghent Band, Terakaft’s genuine desert-blues rock, John Jorgenson Quintet filling the Amphitheatre with gypsy jazz, and Mia Dyson, one of Australia’s “top 25 guitarists” sharing her blues-rock riffs in an open-air set.

ELLNORA, which bears the name of its venue’s visionary founder, Ellnora Krannert, provides a vital showcase for some of today’s most prominent female artists. In addition to Sharon Isbin and Mia Dyson, female artists for 2015 include Valerie June and her “organic moonshine roots music,” the first lady of the banjo Abigail Washburn (alongside husband Béla Fleck), bluegrass virtuoso Rhonda Vincent, Hawaiian hula dancer and chanter Moanalani Beamer (alongside the slack key artistry of Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson), pipa player Min Xiao-Fen, and noir-rocker Jessica Lea Mayfield, among others.

 Originally known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival before being rechristened ELLNORA in 2009, the event is organized by Krannert Center’s director, Mike Ross, and his staff in collaboration with curator and artistic advisor David Spelman, who is also founder/artistic director of the world-renowned New York Guitar Festival. In the years since its debut, ELLNORA has served as a model for other events in the United States and around the world.


(Descriptions available at EllnoraGuitarFestival.com and KrannertCenter.com)

 Thursday, September 10

6pm Opening Night Party, $5 for all

6:30pm Terakaft, Lobby Stage 6 

7pm Mia Dyson, Amphitheatre on the west terrace

7:30pm AJ Ghent Band, Lobby Stage 5

8:30pm John Jorgenson Quintet, Amphitheatre on the west terrace

8:45pm North Mississippi Allstars, Lobby Stage 6   

 Friday, September 11

Noon Valerie June/Andy McKee, Lobby Stage 5, free 

2pm Squonk’s Pneumatica, Amphitheatre/west terrace, free 

3pm Keynote: A Conversation with Sharon Isbin, Foellinger Great Hall

4pm Star Rover, Sonic Garden, free 

5pm David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot, Lobby Stage 5, free 

6pm Squonk’s Pneumatica, Amphitheatre/west terrace, free 

6:15pm Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Foellinger Great Hall, $10-$29

7:30pm Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, Colwell Playhouse, $10-$44

9pm Drive-By Truckers, Tryon Festival Theatre, $10-$49

10:30pm Earth with Dylan Carlson, Sonic Garden, free 

 Saturday, September 12

9:15am Squonk’s Pneumatica, Amphitheatre/west terrace, free 

10am Dan Zanes and Friends Celebrate Lead Belly!, Tryon Festival Theatre, $5-$15

10am Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson with Moanalani Beamer, Lobby Stage 5, free 

11am Sharon Isbin with Colin Davin, Foellinger Great Hall, $10-$39

Noon Squonk’s Pneumatica, Amphitheatre/west terrace, free 

1pm Min Xiao-Fen, solo pipa: Mao, Monk, and Me/Simon Shaheen, Sashank Navaladi, and Juan Pérez Rodriguez, Colwell Playhouse, $10-$29

2:30pm Punch Brothers, Tryon Festival Theatre, $10-$44

4pm Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Foellinger Great Hall, $10-$44

5:30pm Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, Lobby Stage 5, free 

6:30pm Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sonic Garden, free 

8pm Los Lobos, Tryon Festival Theatre, $10-$34

9:30pm Rodrigo y Gabriela, Colwell Playhouse, $10-$49

10:45pm Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint with Dither, Mark Stewart, and Friends, Sonic Garden, free 

11pm John Scofield and Jon Cleary, Lobby Stage 5, free 


 Krannert Coffeehouse

Intermezzo cafe at the north end of the Center’s Lobby is an ideal place for patrons to unwind and recharge with the Center’s signature coffee blends, tempting desserts, and daily organic specials.

 Outdoor Food Vendors

Local food vendors will offer everything from appetizers to full meals to desserts in a large tented area on the southeast terrace for the Opening Night Party.

 Studio Store

The Studio Theatre, located at the north end of the Center, will become the official festival store, featuring merchandise, sponsor tables, and meet-and-greets with artists.

 Sonic Garden

Refresh in an outdoor, tented performance atmosphere on the southeast terrace of the Center. This space will resonate with a casual vibe for mingling, refueling, and experiencing experimental sounds.



 Single Event Tickets and Festival Passes are on sale now at www.ellnoraguitarfestival.com.


Festival Pass (includes access to 10 ticketed events; excludes Dan Zanes and Friends on September 12): General $330 / Senior Citizen $285 / Student $140 / University of Illinois Student & Youth $95

Single Event Ticket prices vary. Visit EllnoraGuitarFestival.com for details.

Donations are welcome throughout the festival to help make ELLNORA programming possible.


Ticket Office Information

Phone: 217/333-6280 or 800/KCPATIX (527-2849)

TTY: 217/333-9714 (for patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired)

Online: KrannertCenter.com/BuyTickets

Email: [email protected]

Mail: Krannert Center Ticket Office

500 South Goodwin Avenue

Urbana, Illinois 61801-3788


In person: Krannert Center Ticket Office, 500 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois, from 10am to 6pm every day (sales begin at 10am on August 15).






FestPop Editorial Team

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