The Six String Theory Competition is the inspiration of legendary Grammy® award-winning guitarist/composer and producer, Lee Ritenour, who has been playing the guitar for over 50 years and is known worldwide for his musical accomplishments. Ritenour debuted the International Competition in 2010 with the release of his all-star guitar CD, “6 String Theory.” The contest was a great success and the guitar winner recorded a track on Ritenour’s “6 String Theory” and won a 4 year scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Yamaha endorsement & guitar plus many other prizes and performance opportunities. The 2010 winner, Shon Boublil, has since graduated from Berklee College of Music and performed and recorded with Lee Ritenour.
Ritenour explains the history and progression of the competition:
“It actually started a few years ago with my album, 6 String Theory. In 2010, I had been playing guitar for 50 years. It was an anniversary, and since the guitar has been such a great gift for me, I wanted to do something to celebrate that. So I made an album with a lot of guitar greats like B.B. King, George Benson, Slash and Steve Lukather, along with some younger talent like Andy Mckee and Guthrie Govan. Then I thought it would be cool if we could get some really new talent and round it out. We would have someone like B.B. King (who’s in his 80s) all the way down to someone who was just starting their career. That started the ball rolling for the 6 String Theory Competition.”
Due to its popularity, Mr. Ritenour again held the guitar competition in 2011 offering Berklee scholarships, Yamaha instrument & endorsement, performance, recording and mentoring. In 2012, the competition expanded to include three additional instruments: bass, piano/keyboard, and drums. Prizes included Berklee College of Music scholarships, Yamaha instruments and endorsements, Crown of the Continent Guitar foundation scholarships, as well as other prizes provided by other sponsors. In addition, the winners of the rhythm competition recorded a track on a Ritenour album entitled “Rhythm Sessions.” The album also included a veritable ‘who’s who’ of all-star rhythm players including Chick Corea, Nathan East, Will Kennedy, Dave Weckl, George Duke, John Beasley, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Grusin, George Duke, Stanley Clarke and more.
No contest was held in 2013 as it was decided to be a biennial (every two years) competition as the prize fulfillment would run into the next calendar year.
In 2014, the Competition grew ever larger and more global with applications from 70 countries. Joining Lee Ritenour as Legendary Advisory Board Judges were greats such as: Steve Lukather, Joe Bonamassa, Daryl Stuermer, Joe Satriani, Dave Grusin, John Scofield, Dave Weckl , Harvey Mason, Sonny Emory, Will Kennedy, Chris Coleman, Patrice Rushen, John Beasley, John Patitucci, Nathan East and many more.
The four winners performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, giving them a huge career opportunity. The guitar winner recorded a track on Ritenour’s 2015 “Twist of Rit” album. Berklee College of Music provided scholarships to qualified winners. The 2010 winner graduated in 2014 from the Berklee College of Music with the aid of the scholarship he was awarded in the first competition.
For some time Mr. Ritenour has been concerned with the future state of music artistry and business. Although there are many talented young musicians throughout the world, whose skills and talents cover multiple instruments across various genres (e.g. jazz, blues, rock, classical, etc.), Mr. Ritenour is concerned that they will have trouble becoming professional musicians without more opportunities and music education. He wishes to give back to the music profession and believes giving young, talented aspiring musicians professional and educational opportunities is a way to do it.
Mr. Ritenour has operated the competitions on a non-profit basis. His goals were to provide young musicians with opportunities to perform and additional opportunities to obtain a more varied and intensive music education.
The Six String Theory Competition was incorporated as a nonprofit benefit corporation on July 29, 2014, with the objective of promoting, supporting, and encouraging musical mastery, artistry, and education for individuals seeking careers in live and recorded musical performance. Offices are located in Los Angeles, California.
Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Competition Office is located in: Los Angeles, CA
501(C)(3) Tax Identification Number: 47-1921669