Douglas James has appeared as a classical guitarist throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Latin America. He has been a featured recitalist at such notable venues as Italy's L'Estate Chitarristica sul Lago Maggiore, the Great Lakes Classical Guitar Festival at Oberlin Conservatory, Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto festival, and New York's Carnegie and Merkin Halls. Soundboard magazine has noted his performances to be filled with"...appealing intensity and obvious enthusiasm." The Arizona Daily Star described his Bach as "...warm and ornate," and his Spanish pieces "...downright sexy...". Of another recent engagement, Violao Intercambio (Brazil) wrote: “an impeccable performance, the sound clear and clean with beautiful interpretation from the first to the last piece.”
A noted proponent of period instrument performance, Dr. James uses 19th century guitars when playing music of the Classical and Romantic periods. In 1992 he was the top prize winner in the Arturo Toscanini Solo Guitar Competition (Italy) for 19th c. guitar performance. He has twice been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Fellowship, and has received touring grants from Arts International and several state arts commissions. In addition to solo concertizing, he has played in duo with the Italian guitarist Pasquale Rucco since 1995. The Rucco-James Duo is recognized world-wide for their sophisticated interpretations of the 19th c. guitar duo literature. “Thinking to Presti-Lagoya duo, Abreu duo and Assad duo, we think that the inseparable Italian/American pair will be successfully on the same line as this important progeny, becoming their filological equivalent.” Musica magazine.
Always an active performer, James' recent concert schedule has included engagements at the Oberlin Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, numerous American guitar societies, Piccolo Spoleto, and the Stetson International Guitar Workshop. Dr. James has served in the Artists-in-Residence program of the State of North Carolina, and as a touring artist for the Southern Arts Federation and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He frequently serves as a judge for important guitar competitions, including such events as the Guitar Foundation of America International Solo Guitar Competition and the GOLD Competition at Oberlin Conservatory. As a radio recitalist, James has been featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today, as well as special broadcasts on the major classical stations of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
James’ critically acclaimed CD of Italian Romantic solo guitar music was followed by the release of two duo CD’s with Italian guitarist Pasquale Rucco, Early Romantic Music for Two Guitars and A Night at the Opera. All discs are on the Cala Vista label. Gitarr och Luta (Sweden) notes that "Douglas James' playing on the record is for my taste totally splendid. His enthusiasm to explore the early guitar repertoire is obvious, and he has an ability to use the old instruments to their full capacity, with all of their timbral possibilities. He plays intensely and sensitively with flow, ease and elegance." Classical Guitar (England) states "Douglas James clearly has a great deal of sympathy for this repertoire and a carefully worked out approach to its interpretation. . . . everything is animated by concern for the life of the music on its own terms and in its own time. This is a welcome addition to the choice of 19th century repertoire played on genuine instruments of the time."
The Amadeus Guitar Duo
Fascination of the Guitar: The Amadeus Guitar Duo
They are counted among the top-class international guitar duos, receiving enthusiastic reviews from all over the world. Canadian Dale Kavanagh and her German partner Thomas Kirchhoff have made up the Amadeus Guitar Duo since 1991. The secret of their success, regularly documented by more than 70 concerts per year, is the complete devotion of the two artists to their instrument. Hence they did not limit themselves to playing as a duo, but began to concentrate on the repertoire for guitar and orchestra. Thanks to their commitment, this genre was soon able to emerge from its niche. In more than 100 cities, they played their "Spanish Night" recital, featuring concertos for one, two and four guitars and orchestra by Joaquin Rodrigo and the world-famous pan flautist Gheorghe Zamfir.
The Amadeus Guitar Duo has so far appeared in more than 1.000 concerts in some 50 countries in Europe, Central, South and North America, and Asia. The duo has always been able to delight its audience with its exuberant temperament, virtuoso performance, sensitive creative power and a fulsome, warm, carrying guitar tone. They regularly play together with the Prague, Mainz and Mannheim Chamber Orchestras, the Halle Philharmonic State Orchestra, the International Philharmonie, the Gotha-Suhl Thuringian Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Hungarica, the Capella Cracoviensis, the Ankara President Orchestra and the South Westphalian Philharmonic.
Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchhoff have recorded a large number of productions for radio and television (BBC, ZDF, CBC, WDR, BR, TRT, etc.). They have also recorded 16 CDs (Haenssler-Classic) which document the high quality of the Amadeus Guitar Duo. The two artists' stirring commitment and inspiring style of playing have enabled them to considerably broaden the repertoire for guitar, especially for guitar and orchestra. Such renowned composers as Harald Genzmer, Gheorghe Zamfir, Roland Dyens (Paris), Jaime Zenamon (Curitiba), Christian Jost (Cologne), Carlo Domeniconi (Berlin), Gerald Garcia (Oxford), Martin Herchenröder (Siegen) have written orchestral concertos for them. Stephen Dodgson (London), Harald Genzmer (Munich), Jaime M. Zenamon (Curitiba) and Christian Jost (Cologne) have dedicated compositions for two guitars to them. All works have been published by Schott‘s, Mainz - Edition Margaux, Berlin, Edition Peters, Frankfurt, and Verlag Hubertus Nogatz, Essen.
In 1992 they founded the International Guitar Symposium in Iserlohn, which is today one of the most important festivals of its kind in Europe, with more than 200 participants from more than 40 countries, concerts featuring world-famous stars, master courses, lectures, exhibitions and many other activities (www.guitarsymposium.com).
In the 2012-13 season, these successful musicians have been invited to tour the U.S.A., Canada, South-Korea, China, England, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Turkey, Romania and Poland. Today, Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchhoff live with their daughter Melissa-Rachel in Germany, and both are professors who have been teaching at the newly launched guitar class of the Detmold Music School since 2003 (www.hfm-detmold.de). The Amadeus Guitar Duo plays exclusively D'Addario strings on guitars made in Germany by Toni Mueller, Aarbergen.
- "Surely one of the most innovative duos in the world" (Gitarre & Laute, 1998)
- "Real professionals for guitar and orchestra" (Musikmarkt, 2003)
- "Any Rodrigo connoisseur will be thrilled with this." (American Record Guide, USA, 2001)
- "A great success!" on the Spanish Night 1 CD (Zupfmusik, 2001)
- "Once again, thoroughly commendable" on Spanish Night 2 (Acoustic Guitar Mag., 2004)
Heralded by The New York Times for his “effortless virtuosity with intelligence and good taste,” by The Tallahassee Democrat for his “sweet, pure sound, technique to burn and strong sense of musical and poetic phrasing,” and by (Puerto Rico’s) El Nuevo Dia as a “magnificent North American guitarist, full of virtuosity, magnificent technical precision, and a masterfully delivered diverse range of sound,” Stephen Robinson tours extensively as a recitalist, chamber musician and orchestral soloist. He has appeared as guest soloist with orchestras including the Cincinnati Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras, and conducts master classes at leading musical institutions and festivals worldwide.
Robinson’s recordings for Clear Note Records, Centaur Records and Lakeside Records have received unanimous critical acclaim. Of his disc, “Stephen Robinson,” Munich’s Fonoforum states, “A guitarist of the first order . . . Robinson fills the melodic lines with a great individual emotion. Technically, the New York guitarist is at the top level: his scales are light and clean, his chords are clear as glass.” His solo CD, “An American Record,” features the debut recording of works by Samuel Adler, Harold Blanchard and Harold Schiffman, which Soundboard calls “masterful and poetic.” Lakeside Records’ release of “Under the Influence” is the recording of Robinson with flutist Angeleita Floyd. Classical Guitar (UK) notes “the sound created by this brilliant duo is almost orchestra. One of the most delightful to come my way . . . I cannot recommend highly enough.” “Grand Solos” (Lakeside Records) contains works by Albeniz, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Barrios, Rudnev, Sor, Ponce and Willis. Classical Guitar says “Robinson reveals himself as a quality purveyor, neat and nimble fingers capturing all the necessary brilliance and flourish.” “A Christmas Feeling,” features Christmas works commissioned by or dedicated to Robinson by some of today’s most renowned guitarist composers, including Roland Dyens and Andrew York. Robinson’s release on Clear Note Records, “Felicidade,” is an eclectic mix of music. Soundboard’s Richard Long writes, “Stephen is a guitarist who invariably reminds me of why I fell in love with the guitar many years ago; to put it simply, he plays beautiful music, and he plays it beautifully.” And Steve Marsh of Classical Guitar said “Occasionally a CD comes along in the review stack in which the featured performer immediately stands out from amongst the others for their sheer musicality, technical virtuosity and ‘listenability’ factor – and this new release from North American guitarist Stephen Robinson is such a CD. Everything about this disc smacks of quality. The more astute amongst you will have gathered by now that I liked this new disc enormously, and with a recording quality second to none, Felicidade is indeed a jewel in the crown of the Clear Note Publications CD catalogue and is to be highly recommended.” Clear Note Records has just released Robinson’s newest CD, “Découpage,” a collection of works spanning nearly 3 centuries, combining recent jewels with timeless standards. Steve Marsh of Classical Guitar notes, “This CD has to be one of the most attractive ones I’ve listened to in quite a while. Robinson’s musicianship is of the highest calibre, his effortless technique allowing him the freedom to do with this music just about anything he wants and what he does do is exceptionally good from every angle. This is music making of high order.”
A top prizewinner in five major international competitions, including the XXIII Concours International de Guitare in Paris and the VI Concurso Internacional de Guitarra in Venezuela, Robinson is an alumnus of the distinguished Affiliate Artists Touring roster and a member of the State of Florida Touring Program. He has received numerous awards, fellowships and grants, including two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Solo Recitalists Awards, an NEA Recording Award, a Fulbright Fellowship for Performance and Research in Music to Canada, two Hand Enrichment Awards, an MTNA Foundation Prize, nine Stetson University Professional Development Awards, a Koger Foundation Award, a Root Foundation Grant, and two of Stetson University’s Hand Awards for Excellence in Research and Creativity for his performances and recordings as well as for his outstanding work with children and seniors.
A native of New York, Stephen Robinson began his guitar studies with Bruce Holzman at Florida State University, and worked closely with Andrés Segovia, who called him “a magnificent guitarist, one of the most brilliant guitarists of our times.” After pursuing graduate work at the Yale School of Music, Florida State University awarded Robinson the first Doctor of Music Degree in Guitar Performance.
Stephen Robinson is Professor of Music at Stetson University in Florida, where he is the founding director of the Guitar Program (since 1983). His graduates have excelled in the finest graduate programs of Yale University, The Eastman School of Music, The Peabody Conservatory, Florida State University, and The University of Southern California, among others, and many now hold prominent positions in the professional music world. Of his multi-faceted career, Guitarra Magazine says “Robinson’s career as a teacher is well known. He founded and runs the guitar program at Stetson University. At the same time, he has won a bunch of competitions, recorded a score of CDs, and continues touring regularly. What you have with Robinson is a player who has married the two opposite ends of the guitar experience (teaching and performing) by finding a way to express the impetus for both simultaneously. It’s a remarkable feat and one to aspire to.” Stephen Robinson resides in DeLand, Florida with his wife, Patrece, and together they have raised four sons.
Dieter Hennings's musical endevaours span from new music on guitar to early music for lute, baroque guitar, and theorbo.
Mr. Hennings has been a soloist with Canada’s New Music Concerts Ensemble, Eastman BroadBand Ensemble, Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, the University of Arizona Philharmonia, and the Orquesta Juvenil de Sonora, Mexico. Mr. Hennings has won several prestigious competitions including the 2008 Aaron Brock International Guitar Competition, 2005 Eastman Guitar Concerto Competition, the 2002 Villa de Petrer, Alicante (Spain) International Competition, the 2001 Portland Guitar Competition, among others.
Mr. Hennings is an active proponent of new music, particularly that of Latin America, having recently worked with composers Mario Davidovsky, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Juan Trigos and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Mr. Hennings has recently premiered works by composers Jake Bancks, Wes Matthews, John Aylward, Beth Wiemann, Hebert Vazquez, Luca Cori, Juan Trigos and Scott Worthington. He recently performed Synchronisms no. 10 for guitar and tape for Mario Davidovsky in a concert dedicated to the composer's work. Mr. Hennings has received grants from the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music and the Fondo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes to commission and premiere contemporary works for guitar.
Recent engagements include concerts with pop-singer Natalie Merchant and baroque vioinist Monica Huggett as well as appearances at the Mexican Embassy in Rome, Festival SpazioMusica of Cagliari, Conservatorio de las Rosas in Morelia, Mexico, University of Chicago, Festival Internacional de Chihuahua, New York’s Joyce Theater, Julliard’s Paul Hall, and New England Conservatory. Mr. Hennings is a resident artist at the East Coast Composers Ensemble and the Eastman Broad Band Ensemble, with whom he maintains an active performing schedule.
In 2005 and 2007 he participated in the modern premieres of the baroque operas "Apollo and Daphne" and “La virtù de’stralli d’Amore” by Francesco Cavalli, both directed by Paul O'Dette. Mr. Hennings recently performed recitals on baroque lute and guitar at Milan’s Spazio Tadini, the Arizona Early Music Society and the Rochester Early Music Society among many others.
Current recording projects include an album of works by Silvius Leopold Weiss for baroque lute and the guitar works of composers Juan Trigos and Luca Cori. Recently he collaborated in a recording project with singer Natalie Merchant which also featured musicians like Winton Marsalis, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and producer Anders Levin.
Dieter Hennings received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona School of Music in Guitar Performance in 2004. The following year he was awarded a Master’s degree in Early Plucked Instruments with world-renowned lutenist Paul O'Dette at the Eastman School of Music. He has recently completed the residency for his Doctoral degree in both Guitar Performance and Early Plucked Instruments at Eastman.
Composer/guitarist/educator, Alan Hirsh, worked for many years with Aaron Shearer, collaborating on the three-volume Learning the Classic Guitar series, published by Mel Bay. Hirsh is presently the Music Director and Fine Arts Dept. Head at Bishop McGuinness High School in North Carolina and guitar instructor at Wake Forest University. In addition, he is the director and founder of the Piedmont Guitar Orchestra and founder of the Winston-Salem Guitar Septet. He has composed and arranged extensively for solo guitar and guitar ensemble with works performed throughout the world. His original works published with Mel Bay include Twenty Etudes in fixed Positions, Aaron Shearer's Learning the Classic Guitar Part II, New Music for Classic Guitar, and a four-book series of guitar ensemble music. His compositions have been recorded by James Reid and Joe Pecoraro.
In 2012 Hirsh collaborated as composer and editor with Thomas Kikta (Duquesne University) on a new series, The Shearer Method; the first book, Classic Guitar Foundations, is now available through Alfred Music. His main body of guitar ensemble compositions and arrangements is available at: guitarensemblemusic.com.
Musician, Audio Engineer, Producer, Professor and Author,Thomas Kikta is a versatile artist who has been the director of Classic Guitar and Recording Arts and Sciences atDuquesneUniversityinPittsburgh,PA.for over twenty four years.
A native of Pittsburgh, he studied Classic Guitar performance with Aaron Shearer at both the Peabody Conservatory and at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He has performed around the country and for such dignitaries as Mia Angelou and Tony Morrison and has worked with such artists as Ricardo Cobo, and Manuel Baruecco. As an audio engineer and producer Mr. Kikta’s credits include The New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Visa /Mastercard, Family Guy, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Starkist, Dr John, MCG Jazz, BMG Classics, Leonard Bernstein, Pepe Romero, Sean Jones, Jacob TV,Jeff Bergmanand the New Century Saxophone Quartet, to name a few.
After working closely with Aaron Shearer for over 28 years he with Mr. Shearer coauthored the 3rd edition of the best selling and benchmark work “Classic Guitar Technique Vol1” published by Alfred Publications, which was nominated for “Best Instructional Book or Video for 2009” by Music and Sound Retailer.
He was invited to write “The Complete Idiots Guide to Classical Guitar Favorites” which was published by Alfred Publications in 2010. This work provides supplementary lessons to 30 favorite selections for a student working with a method book. It also gives historical perspective to the authors and selections with fun facts and a guitar historical time line. His newest work, “The Shearer Method Classic Guitar Foundations” includes over 200 pages of insightful information, 75 new compositions as well as 63 high definition videos explaining the Shearer approach.
As a Co-founder and Board Chairman of the Guitar Society of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh audiences have enjoyed a decade of world class guitar music as well as free music lessons for underprivileged children. Thomas Kikta along with members of the Shearer family have founded The Aaron Shearer Foundation an organization dedicated to preserving and propagating the teachings and legacy of the revolutionary guitar pedagogue, Aaron Shearer.
Thomas Kikta is an artist endorsee for Alhambra Guitars, Alfred Publishing, D’Addario Strings and Fishman Electronics visit him on Facebook or at www.thomaskikta.com