Our Mission

The Alternative Guitar Summit, founded in 2010, is a yearly festival of daring, inventive players who emphasize new and unusual approaches to the guitar. The music we present celebrates the guitar’s enormous range, beyond style or genre.

The AGS seeks to commission new work, whether improvised, notated, or both, and is devoted to promoting new music through education and performance in the New York City metropolitan area and beyond. We specialize in creating opportunities for lesser known, non-commercial musicians.

Lifeforce Arts Inc., a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Joel Harrison in 2013, is the fiscal sponsor for the Alternative Guitar Summit

Board of Advisors: Pat Metheny, Vic Juris, Elliot Sharp, Dave Tronzo, Bill Milkowski, Ben Monder, Nels Cline, Fred Frith

Want to host your own Guitar Summit? Joel harrison will help you design and curate one!


“When Nels Cline and Fred Frith played their first public duet it didn’t always sound like guitar music. It sounded, at times, like a sanitation truck’s trash compactor, like a collapsing carillon, like a slowed down train wreck. That’s the beauty of the Alternative Guitar festival…which features guitarists who don’t just pick and strum.”
– Jon Pareles, The New York Times

“What a wonderful festival – Harrison outdid himself.”
– Fred Frith

What Our Audience is Saying

“Tonight was an unparalleled experience for me as a guitarist, musician, artist, father, son, husband, human being, everything. I feel that my entire spirit has been somehow healed or made more whole by this entire experience.”
– Sebastien, concert-goer

Specific Goals for the Future

  1. Build solo repertoire, whether nylon string, steel string, or electric.
  2. Create unique pairings of players whose primary focus is improvisation, hopefully leading to long-term collaboration.
  3. Commission work for multiple electric and/ or acoustic guitars.
  4. Commission work for individual jazz guitarists in unusual instrumental combinations where the focus is not on the typical bass/drums/guitar format.
  5. Commission fully-notated works for guitar in chamber music settings and orchestras.
  6. Commission work that combines guitar and non-western string instruments such as kora, sarode, sitar, ngoni, oud, etc.