A STUNNING guitar masterclass by a former member of 80s chart-topping band The Police was the highlight of this year's North Wales Jazz Guitar Festival.
The sixth Wrexham Festival and Summer School featured the talent of Andy Summers, one-time band mate of Sting during a successful pop career. Now a major player in jazz guitar circles, Summers proved a big crowd puller as organisers Trefor Owen and Maureen Hopkins tried to bring more newcomers to the event.
'We wanted to get Wrexham people who had never really listened to jazz before to come and experience it,' said Trefor. 'Having Andy Summers not only meant we had a really great jazz guitarist on the bill but it also helped us get increased media coverage and a wider range of people coming to our events.
'We are funded by the Arts
Council and we want to get as many different people visiting as possible. People still think the festival is only open to people who are studying with the summer school, but it's open to everyone.'
The week-long Festival attracted more than 1,000 people.
Trefor said: 'This is talked about all over the US and we have people coming across the Atlantic as well as from Ireland, Finland and many other countries who come to watch gigs or take part in the summer school.'
The summer school and festival runs as two separate, but simultaneous, events.
In the evenings there were gigs at the Memorial Hall and in the afternoon at Yales Cafe Bar and these were interspersed with masterclasses by performers at Yale College.
'Andy Summers took a masterclass and blew people away with what he could do with the guitar,' said Trefor.
'He was happy to pass on tips and advice and students took a lot from it.'
The festival and summer school proved a great success but they will remain in Wrexham and won't expand.
'We have no plans to make the festival bigger,' said Maureen. 'It is a very specialist festival and is already the biggest of its kind in the world. But more importantly it is a labour of love for Trefor and me.
'We organise it together. To make it bigger we would need to bring in staff and helpers and it would lose the personal touch that we bring to it at the moment.
'We want to diversify our audience and introduce new people to jazz through the festival.'