Press review

Erotic on 22 guitars

Graz. - Sometime I really heard flutes: In the well visited Stephaniensaal there was also a version of the "Bolero" in the yearly program presented by the guitar orchestra under Manfred Steflitsch Such arrangements were at earlier times quite usual - both, Mozart and Vivaldi, would have liked the vivid presentation of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and the choral effects in Vivaldi's "d-major concert". And also Maurice Ravel's erotic ecstasy in sound is noticeable on 22 guitars. Is it because of Steflitsch's intelligent arrangement that sometimes each instrument could be distinguished differently in the confusion and that even the tender flute melody could be heard clearly sometimes? The fact that the people's hearts were captured by the more vivid half of the two-part concert could not be hidden, and faithfully to Robert Schumann's slogan "the heart reigns" the 22 women played tremendous works such as Gerd Schuller's "Giulia". Four extras - impressively the expressive sable-rattling in Khatschaturians "Säbeltanz". You can't deny it anymore - guitars don't always sound the same!

Hagen Kunze
5. December 1995
Kleine Zeitung, Graz

A man with 132 strings

Once a young savage wanted to play Beethoven's symphonies on the e-guitar.

Since its childhood music determines the life of the guitar teacher of the Grazer Ursuline College and the BAKIP college in Hartberg, Manfred Steflitsch. As a member of some Lavanttaler bands he had already arranged and composed works for them as a teenager. But he couldn't make his dream to play Beethoven's symphonies on the e-guitar come true at that time. In logical consequence he came immediately to Graz in order to study classical guitar at the college of music Graz after having passed his A levels in Wolfsberg.
An employment at the Ursuline College for girls was then the start of a unique project. As a voluntary afterschool musicclub - "which unfortunately was cancelled nation-wide later on because of the saving politics of the Austrian government", as says Steflitsch - the Grazer guitar orchestra of the Ursuline College came to life. 22 girls and as many guitars should reform the world of music. In 1988 the breakthrough was done on their first live concert.
What was first done to give the girls the possibility to practise music together, was in the end the fulfilling of a dream for the teacher living in Styria nowadays.
(There are 60 orchestra scores for guitar and lately even scores for guitar orchestra and solo instruments arranged by him so far) When the afterschool club was cancelled 5 years ago, Steflitsch, who also published the series "Highlights for guitars", founded the "Guitar Ensemble Graz" (GEG) with the same 22 girls. And he turned the former schoolband into an orchestra whose quality can already be seen and heard for the 5th time on the 16th of December in the Grazer Stefaniensaal.
Mussorgskij's "Pictures at an Exhibition", Bach's "Brandenburgische Konzerte", Vivaldi, Bizet's "Carmen-Suite" or Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" are only a small part of the repertory that Manfred Steflitsch arranged for the guitar orchestra. Nevertheless he is not satisfied with only classical works yet, so he invited musicians like Dieter Ribitsch, Gerd Schuller or Klaus Melem to compose and even play for the orchestra. "Rhythm - star" Manfred Josl, for example, always plays the "Bolero" with them.
How Manfred Steflitsch succeeds in keeping all the girls "to the strings"? "Well, I teach them that music is the only language in the world understood by everyone. I translate this language - and the girls speak it. That's it !"

7. December 1997
Kleine Zeitung, Graz

Atmosphere guaranteed "string by string"

When you hear these 22 guitars, then your mind swings in harmony as well!

Sometimes school initiatives surpass themselves and then prove successfully, how much creative potential is hidden in those teenagers: in the eighties Manfred Steflitsch could observe this in his voluntary afterschool musicclub at the Ursuline College Graz and now he presents the result: The guitar orchestra Graz, 22 young ladies, who literally have the music in their fingertips.
Two CDs have already been published, and for the live performances they only play original arrangements and compositions, which Steflitsch arranged for guitars. At the Grazer annually main concert - the new concert program is presented for the fifth time now - Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" is the main attraction. Likewise arrangements of Francisco Tárregas' works are performed for the first time.

13. December 1997
Kleine Zeitung, Graz


Graz. - In the sold out Grazer Stefaniensaal the 22 young ladies of the guitar orchestra Graz once more proved to be technically perfect and musically absolutely articulate. Above all Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" - arranged by conductor Manfred Steflitsch for the GEG - turned out to be an extraordinary hearing experience. In addition, Manfred Josel, Martin Nestl, double- bass player Klaus Melem and particularly the young, extremely talented violin solo player Berni Mallinger participating as guest musicians proved to be a veritable enrichment.

Werner Egger
18. December 1997
Kleine Zeitung, Graz

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