2019 Artists & Performers
The Alturas Duo - Javier Farias - Paul Green - Mak Grgic - Joe Kiernan - David Madsen - Andy McKee -
Arlen Roth - Hiroya Tsukamoto - Benjamin Verdery (artistic director)
* premiers of works by Gwyneth Walker, Javier Farias
The Alturas Duo
The Alturas Duo is one of the most engaging ensembles performing in the chamber music world today. The only group of its kind, the Duo was formed to bring together the worlds of South American folk, traditional classical and new music on the unusual combination of viola, charango and guitar. Founded by Canadian guitarist, Scott Hill and Chilean violist and charango player, Carlos Boltes, the Alturas Duo has performed extensively in Europe as well as North, Central and South America at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, the Smithsonian Institute, the Music Mountain Chamber Music Series, La Guitarra California, La Maison de Mai in Paris, and the 34th International Viola Congress. Always interested in collaborations and new musical experiences, the Duo has worked with artists and ensembles as diverse as guitarist and composer, Horacio Salinas; charango virtuoso, Ernesto Cavour; flutist, Nicole Esposito; quena virtuoso, Marcelo Pena-Lobo; pianist, Polly Ferman; Argentine bandoneón legend, Daniel Binelli; the Voce Choir of Hartford and the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. Throughout their career, they have been passionate proponents of new music. This earned them the 2010 CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and has led them to premier dozens of pieces including recent works by Javier Farías, Frank Wallace, José Lezcano, Russell Nadel, Thomas Schuttenhelm and Ronald Pearl. The Duo took First Prize at the 2006 New England International Chamber Music Competition and are currently "Artists in Residence" for the Intake Organization in Stamford, CT.
Chilean composer and guitarist Javier Farías has led a prominent musical career composing extensively for the guitar, having his music performed by some of the main exponents of this instrument including; Eliot Fisk, Ben Verdery, David Tanenbaum, Eduardo Isaac, Emanuele Segre, Ricardo Cobo, legendary rock guitarist of The Police, Andy Summers, and jazz fusion guitarist Mike Stern.
His catalogue as a composer includes more than eighty compositions, emphasizing his numerous works for solo guitar, as well as duos, quartets and ensembles for guitar. He has also written numerous works for orchestra, jazz ensemble, mixed choir, bandoneon, flamenco guitar, electric guitar, charango and other instruments. Some of his music has been premiered in Carnegie Hall, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Instituto Cervantes in New York, Kennedy Center, Tsuda Hall in Japan, George Mason Center for the Arts, Salle Cortot in Paris, Ateneo de Madrid, Meistersaal in Berlin, and MATCH-Houston among other big venues.
He is the recipient of many awards and grants from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, New Music USA, Maryland State Individual Award, and the Chilean National Endowment for the Arts among others. Some of his compositions have also won first place in some of the world’s leading composition competitions for the classical guitar including; the «Andrés Segovia» Competition in Spain, and the International «Michele Pittaluga» Composition Competition for Classical Guitar in Italy. In 2008 his work for symphonic orchestra Canta la Tierra won the first place at the XIV «2 Agosto» International Composing Competition. His music has been premiered, performed and or recorded by; L’ Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, Aspekte New Music Ensemble of Salzburg, VOCE Choir, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonie Baden-Baden, The Chamber Music Society of Sacramento, Apollo Chamber Players, Camerata Argentina de Guitarras, San Francisco Conservatory Guitar Ensemble, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Ensemble Forestare, Alturas Duo, bandoneonist of Astor Piazzolla’s sextet: Daniel Binelli, Andy Summers, Mike Stern, and classical guitarists; Eliot Fisk, Ben Verdery, David Tanenbaum, Ricardo Cobo, Emanuele Segre, José Antonio Escobar, Carlos Perez, Joaquín Clerch Díaz, Gabriel Bianco, Roberto Limon, Marcelo de la Puebla, Piraí Vaca, and Orellana & Orlandini Duo among many others.
He served as professor of composition at Escuela Moderna de Música y Danza, in Chile, from 2001 to 2012. In August of 2012 he moved to Washington DC and during 2013 he did a Residence as a Composer at the Catholic University of America, in its Latin American Music Center. His music for guitar has been published by Berben (Italy), E.M.E.C. (Spain), Doberman-Yppan, and Les Productions d’OZ (Canada).
Paul Green is a master guitar teacher, record producer, film producer, entrepreneur, and founder of the Paul Green Rock Academy (PGRA). PGRA is Paul’s dream school, a small audition-only school for the most dedicated music students, with branches in Philadelphia and Southwestern Connecticut.
Paul is responsible for changing the way rock music is taught in this country. He is known primarily as the founder of School of Rock, the international corporation music school franchises, which offer performance-based education. He is also the inspiration for the Jack Black/Dewey Finn character in the movie. After overseeing the growth of the company to 57 locations, Paul decided to leave the corporate world in 2010 to return to his true love, teaching students.
Since then,he has hosted his own radio show, been part of the production of two documentary films, been the music director for the Woodstock Film Festival, managed/tour managed/advised national musical acts, played the bass for the national touring band "Gene Ween Does Billy Joel", produced countless fundraisers and special events with numerous guest starts, and has worked on the creation of a college level program called Woodstock Music Lab in partnership with Steve Vai and Michael Lang.
Touted as a “gifted young guitarist” by the New York Times, and “a guitarist to keep an eye on” by the Washington Post, Mak Grgic is emerging as a star on the worldwide stage. An expansive and adventurous repertoire attests to his versatility and wide-ranging interests: from the Baroque and Renaissance to music of the cinema; from ethnic music of his native Balkans to extreme avantgarde and microtonal music, Mr. Grgic’s extraordinary talents and tastes as soloist, collaborator, and recording artist are fueled by his curiosity, imagination, and boundless energy.
As a concert artist, he averages eighty-five performances a year — nearly two bookings per week — as both soloist and collaborator. He is a founding member and active performer in two duos— the Flamenco-style “Duo Deloro” with Adam Del Monte, and the new music-focused “FretX Duo” with Daniel Lippel, guitarist of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). As Young Artist in Residence with the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, he founded “DC8,” an octet declared “an inspiring addition to the contemporary music landscape in Los Angeles” by the Los Angeles Times. Other ongoing collaborations include the JACK Quartet, Martin Chalifour (concertmaster, LA Philharmonic), cellists Jay Campbell and Joshua Roman, The Assad Brothers, and John Sant’Ambrogio (St. Louis Symphony).
In 2009 at the age of 22, Mak Grgic made his debut in Russia, performing the Rodrigo Concerto de Aranjuez with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Lande. The following spring, while on tour in the U.S. as a member of the Zagreb Guitar Quartet, he performed with Christopher McGuire, guitarist and artistic director of the popular Allegro Guitar Series in Austin, Texas. That summer, at the Lancaster Festival in Ohio, he performed Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre with the Festival Orchestra under Gary Sheldon, as well as Boccherini’s famous Introduction et Fandango with the Festival String Quartet.
A month-long tour recently took him to China, Japan and the Balkans. Other engagements include performances and residencies at several venues in Portugal; in Castilla-Leon/Spain, at the Teatro Cervantes de Bejar; the Sarajevo Music Academy; at several venues in Slovenia; the Paris Guitar Foundation; Zurich University of the Arts, and the Hong Kong International Guitar Festival.
In North America, he has performed at the Austin Classical Guitar (in recital with Martin Chalifour); Beyond Microtonal Music Festival/Pittsburgh, the Dallas Opera (with chamber orchestra) in performances of Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse; Dumbarton Concerts/Washington, D.C.; Kitchener-Waterloo/Ontario; Lancaster Music Festival/Pennsylvania; the National Gallery of Art; NAMM Show/California; Strathmore Hall/Maryland; the New York Classical Guitar Society; Triangle Guitar Society/North Carolina; and numerous other venues and guitar societies across the globe.
Also an active entrepreneur and educator, Mr. Grgic is director of EuroStrings, a consortium of seventeen guitar festivals in Europe; as well as the European Guitar Festival Collaborative; Zabreb Guitar Festival; Roots & Notes Interactive Music Festival in Croatia; and the Music@Rush Hour/Los Angeles. He also serves as director of the Elemental Guitar in Santa Monica, an exciting program for youth, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles.
An enthusiastic recording artist, Mak Grgic’s albums capture a probing and continuous exploration of the world of guitar and all its possibilities. His latest recordings, “Balkanisms“ for Naxos Music and “MAKrotonal” for MicroFest Records, explore a vast repertoire spanning ethnic music, microtonal, new music and early music on re-fretted instruments, such as a “zig-zag fretted Bach prototype guitar” that captures the temperaments of the Baroque period. Other albums in progress include an homage to Ligeti spotlighting gamelan-inspired guitar arrangements.
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1987, Mr. Grgic studied guitar in Zagreb with the revered Ante Cagalj at the Elly Basic Music Academy. By the age of 14, he was balancing his world champion status in karate with his love for the guitar. Throughout his high school years, he concertized in Ljubljana and Zagreb, splitting his weeks between the two cities, as well as competing in professional martial arts contests across Europe and Asia. Following an injury to his left thumb, he made the decision to focus solely on a career in music, going on to complete a bachelor’s degree with Alvaro Pierri at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.
Pursuing advanced studies in the U.S., Mak Grgic was one of the first students to apply for USC Thornton’s new Arts Leadership graduate program, which he incorporated into his doctoral studies in guitar. He has been a student of William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, in addition to Brian Head, artistic director of Guitar Foundation of America. In the fall of 2017, he began the Artist Diploma program at USC, the first guitarist in the university’s history to be admitted to this elite program.
Mr. Grgic proudly plays and endorses an array of fabulous concert guitars made by diverse craftsmen, including German Antonius Muller, Chinese master luthier Hanson Yao, Bosnian Slavko Mrdalj, Slovenian Samo Sali, as well as a historic 1966 Jose Ramirez, all of this in addition to other quirky re-fretted and remodeled guitars.
Joe Kiernan earned his bachelors degree at the Crane school of music, SUNY Potsdam With a major in music education and a minor in classical guitar. His Masters is in educational leadership from the University of Bridgeport where he minored in jazz guitar. Joe Kiernan has played in taught throughout the country and internationally in Canada and South America. Joe Kiernan has played with Les Paul, Ronnie Earl, and most recently with Bernie Williams. Joe Kiernan is also a composer with his own CD labeled Inventory . Joe Kiernan is in established jazz and funk and blues guitarist with students to have gone to music schools on full scholarship including Berkeley College of music. JoeKiernan has also taught at the National Guitar Workshop and Camp Jam. Currently, Joe Kiernan is the band director and teaches all the general music classes at the discovery magnet school in Bridgeport as well as a Saturday program for the KEYS foundation and has his own private studio of students.
Joe Kiernan can be seen and heard at local bookstores and restaurants throughout the Tri-state area, where he plays with his own jazz trio and solo.
David Madsen founded what is now The Hartt School Community Division (HCD) Suzuki Guitar Program in 1991. The program presently includes sixty students and two faculty members. He is Chair of HCD's Guitar and Harp Department. Madsen graduated with a Bachelor of Music in performance from the University of Connecticut, studying with David McLellan and Ed Flower.
He has since studied with David Leisner and Pepe Romero. His Suzuki studies have been with Bill Kossler and Frank Longay. In 2000 David became the third registered Teacher Trainer in guitar with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has conducted training courses throughout North America and in Peru, Puerto Rico, and Argentina. In January 2016, David began training in Suzuki Early Childhood Education (birth to three) with Lynn McCall. Madsen currently serves on the Teacher Development Advisory Committee for the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA), and is also a member of the SAA Guitar Committee.
Self-described as "just this guy from Topeka, Kansas, who kind of blew up on the Internet about a week before Christmas", McKee became one of Candyrat Records' best-selling artists after their video of "Drifting" was promoted by users at Digg. For a time, three of McKee's videos were concurrently the three most watched on YouTube. In the wake of this exposure, he appeared by invitation on Woodsongs as well as Last Call with Carson Daly. He also contributed to Josh Groban's 2007 Grammy-nominated Christmas album, Noël, playing guitar on the song "Little Drummer Boy". Groban's album went on to become the best-selling CD of 2007 in the U.S., hitting #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
In 2012, McKee played alongside Prince on his Welcome 2 Australia tour. He played with Prince's band during the concert on Purple Rain, Sometimes It Snows in April, Mountains, Dance Electric, and Love, Thy Will Be Done. He also kicked off the Melbourne concert with Ebon Coast, Drifting, and The Friend I Never met.
Drew Pinto is a 25-year old musician based out of Monroe, Connecticut. Locally known as a “fingerstyle guitarist” for his use of rhythmic tapping and acoustic harmonic techniques, Drew has performed at venues in Trumbull, Newtown, Danbury, Brookfield, Sandy Hook, Bridgeport. He has performed at the Ives Concert Park and at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, during several Full Moon Festivals. With styles spanning rock, folk, indie and alternative, Drew pushes to compose songs that capture both emotion and groove. He is currently working on his first full length album.
There is so much to say and tell about Arlen Rothas a musician and as a man, it would be impossible to write it in one short Bio. (He is, however, currently working on a real autobiography of his life!)
This guitar legend is considered one of the most influential guitarists of all time, Arlen has toured the world with countless acts and recording with them as well. This includes artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Phoebe Snow, Levon Helm, Ry Cooder, John Sebastian, Janis Ian, Eric Andersen, The Bee Gees and so many more. His teaching and creation of Hot Licks Video pioneered music and guitar education all over the world, and his videos have sold in excess of 2.5 million copies. His current online lessons and blogs for Gibson.com have over 1 million followers! Arlen was also the man behind the legendary Blues film, Crossroads, creating the guitar parts, directing the guitar scenes, and working alongside Ry Cooder and Ralph Macchio for seven months in Mississippi and in L.A. He was voted in the Top 50 Acoustic Guitarists of All-Time by Gibson.com, and in the Top 100 Most Influential Guitarists of All-Time by Vintage Guitar Magazine. He has 8 best-selling books to his credit, and his book Hot Guitar, is a compilation of 10 years of his wildly popular column for Guitar Player Magazine of the same name. From 2007 to 2012, Arlen was also the creator of over 1000 online lessons and blogs for Gibson Guitars.
Born in the Bronx, NY, Arlen quickly got turned on to the guitar at the age of 9, and was deeply encouraged by his father, New Yorker Magazine cartoonist, Al Ross, who saw that Arlen was learning very quickly by ear. He began to take classical guitar lessons in Greenwich Village, but was told to leave after he bought an electric guitar! From that point on, he simply learned in real life, in front of audiences, in studios and simply by playing and teaching. In 1970, his band Steel, from White Lake, NY performed for 8 hours at the 1st Anniversary Woodstock Reunion Concert at Yasgur’s Farm in Bethel, NY, and soon after, he moved to the actual town of Woodstock, NY, where he quickly jump-started his career. His 1st published book was Slide Guitar, on Oak Publications when he was only 21 years old, and has since published numerous well-known books such as How to Play Blues Guitar, Nashville Guitar, Arlen Roth’s Complete Electric Guitar, Arlen Roth’s Complete Acoustic Guitar, Rock Guitar for Future Stars, Heavy Metal Guitar, Hot Guitar and Masters of the Telecaster.
Hiroya Tsukamoto is a guitarist and composer originally from Kyoto,Japan. In 2000, he received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the US. Since then, he has been performing internationally including several appearances with his group at Blue Note in New York and released six albums as a leader. And he also performed and appeared on major televisions internationally such as NHK (Japanese National Television) and EBS in Korea. In 2018, Hiroya won 2nd place in International Finger Style Guitar Championship.
Ben Verdery - artistic director
Artistic director of 92nd Street Y’s Art of the Guitar series since 2006, chair of the guitar department at the Yale University School of Music and artistic director of the bi-annual Yale Guitar Extravaganza since 1985, Benjamin Verdery is hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career.
Since 1980 he has performed worldwide in theaters and at festivals, including Theatre Carré (Amsterdam), Maverick Concerts (NY), the International Guitar Festival in Havana, Wigmore Hall (London), Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Taxco (Mexico), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Opera in New York. His tours regularly take him throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. He has recorded and performed with such diverse artists as Andy Summers, Frederic Hand, William Coulter, Leo Kottke, Anthony Newman, Jessye Norman, Paco Peña, Hermann Prey and John Williams.
Ben Verdery has released more than 15 albums, his most recent being Happy Here with William Coulter; and Branches, featuring works of Bach, Strauss, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart and the traditional Amazing Grace. His CD, Start Now, won the 2005 Classical Recording Foundation Award, while other recordings of note include Some Towns & Cities and his collaborations with John Williams (John Williams Plays Vivaldi) and Andy Summers (First you Build A Cloud). Future recordings include one featuring Yale composers and one featuring his classical guitar arrangements: Randy Newman, Neil Young, Prince, Hendrix, John Lennon, Eddy Vedder, The National, Cream, Elvis and others yet to be arranged.