As SoloDuo, Matteo Mela and Lorenzo Micheli have performed throughout Europe, Asia, the USA, Canada and Latin America, and have been acclaimed everywhere – from New York's Carnegie Hall to Seoul's Sejong Chamber Hall, from Kiev's Hall of Columns to Vienna's Konzerthaus – as one of the best ensembles ever heard. About one of their performances, The Washington Post wrote: "the duo's playing was nothing less than rapturous – profound and unforgettable musicianship of the highest order." In addition to classic, romantic and modern repertoire, Matteo and Lorenzo – joined by lutenist Massimo Lonardi – enjoy exploring the early literature for baroque guitar and theorbo. Together, Matteo and Lorenzo have recorded François de Fossa's Three Quartets, op. 19 (Stradivarius 2004), a CD of 17th century Italian music for baroque guitar, archlute and theorbo ("La Suave Melodia", Stradivarius 2008), "Solaria", an anthology of 20th century masterpieces for two guitars (Pomegranate 2007), the Duos Concertants by Antoine De Lhoyer (Naxos 2007), a collection of chamber works by Mauro Giuliani (Amadeus 2008), a collection of 19th century pieces for two guitars ("Noesis", Pomegranate 2009), the Sonatas of Ferdinand Rebay (Stradivarius 2010), the Arias and Cantatas of Alessandro Scarlatti (Stradivarius 2013) and the 24 Preludes and Fugues by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Solaria 2012), as well as a dozen solo recordings on the labels Naxos, Brilliant Records, Kookaburra, Mel Bay, and Stradivarius. Matteo resides in Geneva, Switzerland, where he teaches at the Conservatoire Populaire. Lorenzo lives in Milan, Italy, and teaches both at the CSI Conservatory in Lugano, Switzerland, and the Conservatory of Aosta, Italy.
Matteo Mela was born in Imperia in 1971. A student of Renzo Doria Miglietta in his hometown, he moved to Cremona to pursue his studies of musicology at the University. In Cremona he met Giovanni Puddu, who played a major role in his musical education; at the same time, he had the chance to attend the classes of Angelo Gilardino, Alirio Diaz, Oscar Ghiglia, David Russell, the Assad brothers. Moreover, he studied chamber music at the Accademia Pianistica di Imola with Dario De Rosa, Alexander Lonquich, and Pier Narciso Masi.As a member of the Mela-Bandini duo Matteo won – between 1991 and 1998 – the first prize in several prestigious chamber music competitions, such as the Aram (Rome) 1992, the F. Cilea Competition in 1993, the GMI in 1994, the Città di Gubbio, Città di Caltanissetta and Perugia Classico Competitions in 1995. Recently he has been enjoying regular collaboration with Lorenzo Micheli in a number of projects. In 2002 they formed a duo that has already performed throughout Europe, Asia, the US, Canada and Latin America, and has been acclaimed everywhere – from New York's Carnegie Hall to Seoul's Sejong Chamber Hall and Vienna's Konzerthaus – as one of the best ensembles ever heard. About one of their performances, The Washington Post wrote: "Extraordinarily sensitive, with effortless command and an almost unbearable delicacy of touch, the duo's playing was nothing less than rapturous – profound and unforgettable musicianship of the highest order." A teacher at the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique in Geneva (Switzerland), Matteo records regularly for the labels Naxos, Mel Bay, and Stradivarius.
Lorenzo Micheli, theorbist and guitarist, has taken up a busy concert career throughout the world since winning the first prize in some of the most prestigious guitar competitions (Gargnano, Alessandria, Guitar Foundation of America). He has played more than 500 concerts all over Europe, in hundreds of US and Canadian cities, in Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a researcher and scholar, he has written articles and contributions for a number of music journals, including Il Fronimo and Guitar Forum". His discography includes the music of Dionisio Aguado, the Quartets, op. 19, by François de Fossa, the Sonatas by Ferdinand Rebay, a CD of 17th Century Italian music for baroque guitar, archlute and theorbo and a collection of Arias and Cantatas by Alessandro Scarlatti (Stradivarius); the complete guitar Concertos by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Brilliant); a selection of guitar music by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the complete works by Miguel Llobet and the Duos Concertants by Antoine de Lhoyer (Naxos); an anthology of chamber works by Mauro Giuliani (Amadeus), two collections of 19th and 20th century masterpieces for two guitars (Noesis and Solaria, Pomegranate), the album Morning in Iowa (with David Knopfler) and Castelnuovo-Tedesco's 24 Preludes and Fugues for two guitars (Solaria). Lorenzo is guitar professor at the Conservatory of Aosta (Italy) and the CSI in Lugano (Switzerland).
Rene Izquierdo, a native from Cuba, graduated from the Guillermo Tomas, Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Art in Havana. In the United States, Mr. Izquierdo earned a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma degrees from the Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. While at Yale he represented the university in an exchange program with the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse du Paris and worked with guitarists Olivie Chassain and Roland Dyens. As one of America's finest up and coming talents, Rene has appeared as a guest soloist and in chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Cuba and Europe. He has shared the stage with prestigious guitarists including Eliot Fisk, Benjamin Verdery and Jorge Morel, as well as renowned flutist Ransom Wilson, soprano Lucy Shelton, David Jolley and Paquito d'Rivera. Renowned composers such as Jorge Morel and Carlos Rafael Rivera have dedicated works to him.
Mr. Izquierdo is a recipient of numerous awards. He is a winner of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition in 2004, the Extremadura International Guitar Competition, the Schadt String competition, and the Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition among others. His playing has earned him numerous accolades. Classical Guitar Magazine has applauded him for his "unforgettable versatility, sensitivity and sublime musicianship."
He is currently a professor of classical guitar at the Wisconsin State University in Milwaukee and an active solo performer and chamber musician. Rene has studied with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Eli Kassner, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, David Starobin, Eduardo Fernandez, Jorge Morel, Robert Beaser and Anthony Newman among others.
Sharpe Zohn Duo The musical relationship between guitarists Robert Sharpe and Andrew Zohn began in 1997 as student and teacher. Robert received his first guitar lesson from Zohn at the age of 12 and would continue under his direction at the Schwob School of Music (Columbus State University). Upon Sharpe's joining the faculty of the Schwob School in 2012, the two formed this exciting duo and have since performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and China. Performances by the Sharpe Zohn Guitar Duo have been broadcast on National Public Radio (USA), Dutch National Radio (Opium 2), and Romanian National Television (Iasi). The duo has been featured artists at prestigious international guitar festivals including The Changsha and Shenyang International Festivals (China), Festival De La Guitarra De Sevilla (Spain), and the Texas A&M International Symposium (USA). Andrew Zohn is recognized internationally for his work as a performer, instructor, and composer. He has performed concerts on five continents including venues in Beijing, Cairo, New York, Rotterdam, Paris, Vancouver, Honolulu, Buenos Aires, Atlanta, Toronto, and Puerto Rico. He has also served as a guest artist at many of the world's most prestigious music festivals including the Festival of New Music (Central Conservatory of Music, China) the Guitar on the Mediterranean Guitar Festival (Italy), the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium (Germany), the National Guitar Workshop (USA), and the Sauble Beach Festival (Canada). Students of Andrew Zohn have won prizes in several international competitions and have been featured on National Public Radio. Original compositions and transcriptions by Andrew Zohn are published through Les Productions d'Oz, Canada, Tuscany publications Theodore Presser), and FJH Publications. His recordings for Clear Note and Centaur Records have received wide acclaim from American Record Guide, Classical Guitar Magazine, GuitArt Magazine, Soundboard, Guitarra Magazine, and Rosewood Review. Since his national radio debut on National Public Radio's acclaimed program From the Top, Robert Fielding Sharpe has received top prizes in national and international competitions. He has been a guest artist at the East Carolina University Guitar Festival, the Tennessee State University Classical Guitar Seminar, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society, the Greater Cincinnati Guitar Society, the Virtuoso Showcase Classical Guitar Series, and the Fort Worth Guitar Guild. International performances include concerts at the Guitar Festival on the Mediterranean in Italy, the Sauble Beach Guitar Festival in Canada, and the Kras Guitar Festival in Slovenia. Sharpe has served on the faculty of the Tennessee State University Classical Guitar Seminar and the East Carolina University Guitar Festival. Recently, he joined the music faculty at Columbus State University's Schwob School of Music. Sharpe holds a Bachelor of Music from Columbus State University, a Master of Music from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Kithara Duo (Olga Amelkina-Vera and Fernand Vera) was formed in 2002, when they were graduate students at the University of North Texas. Since then, they have performed nationally as well as in Europe and South America. Kithara Duo's critically acclaimed debut CD, Beings, was released by Soundset Recordings in 2011. The duo is home to an international award-winning composer (Olga), and their first album is a world premiere recording of her music for guitar duo. In addition to Olga's original compositions, Fernand and Olga regularly contribute to guitar duo repertoire through arrangements and transcriptions of music by such composers as Albeniz, Ferrabosco, Soler, and Vivaldi.Many of their arrangements are featured on their second CD, to be released in 2015. Kithara Duo are faculty at Collin College in Plano, Texas, where Fernand directs the award-winning Guitar Studies program, and Olga teaches in the guitar, theory, and composition areas. They organize the Collin College Guitar Festival, held each spring semester. For more information, please visit www.kitharaduo.com and www.facebook.com/kitharaduo.
"Their work is outstanding. They have a beautiful sound, a wide range of tone, a subtle and broad control of dynamics, perfect ensemble, and a subtle and expressive phrasing.This is some of the finest guitar duo work I've heard since the Assads, and I look forward to hearing more from this pair." American Record Guide
Born in Houston, TX to a French mother and an Ecuadorian father, Fernand Vera is an active performer, event organizer, educator, author, and arranger. He holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Music from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of North Texas. Since 2012, Fernand has directed the thriving Guitar Studies program at Collin College in Plano, TX. He is the Artistic Director of the annual Collin College Guitar Festival, held each spring semester. He is also the creator and director of the annual Collin College Guitar Competition, the only event of its kind specifically for Texas community college students, held every fall semester.
As an educator and author, Fernand has written several guitar method books: The Beginning Guitar Method, Vol. 1, now in its fifth edition (co-written with Olga Amelkina-Vera), The Beginning Guitar Method, Vol. 2 for continuing guitar students, and Guitar Fitness: Technical Studies for the Advancing Guitarist.These publications are used as guitar studies curriculum at Collin College for class guitar and applied lessons.Fernand's students have won prizes in solo and ensemble competitions, most recently at the 2013 Hill Country International Guitar Ensemble Competition and the 2014 University of Texas at Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Competition. Fernand continuously contributes to the guitar ensemble repertoire through his numerous arrangements and transcriptions.
Guitarist and composer Olga Amelkina-Vera grew up in Belarus and moved to the United States in 1997. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree Summa Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, and her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of North Texas. An active performer and award-winning composer of works with guitar, she has performed with several chamber ensembles and received commissions for solo guitar and guitar ensemble music, as well as for compositions for guitar with other instruments and voice. In 2013, she won first prize in the Japan Guitar Ensemble Composition Competition for her guitar quartet Cattywampus Rompus (Texas Tarantella) and was interviewed in Gendai Guitar during her trip to Tokyo. She was the first prize winner of the Austin Classical Guitar Society Composition Competition in 2009 and 2012 for her guitar quartets Ninochka and Nebulae. Her compositions are published by Productions d'Oz, including two works selected for the Frank Koonce Series. Olga's works have been recorded by Kithara Duo, Presti, Valerie Hartzell, and Matt Palmer. She maintains a busy touring schedule with Kithara Duo, her guitar duo with Fernand Vera.
Olga strives to expand the guitar repertoire through arrangements and new compositions. Her interest in early music has led her to study and arrange, for guitar, the lyra viol music of seventeenth-century England. Olga's scholarly articles have been published in Soundboard. She is currently working on her Master's in composition at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she also teaches part-time in the theory department. She is faculty at Collin College in Plano, TX, where she teaches guitar, composition, music theory, and music history.
2014 Competition winner Alec Holcomb began playing the guitar at the age of 6 under the guidance of his father.At age 11, Alec was awarded the Myra Jackson Blair Music Scholarship to study as a pre-collegiate student with John Johns at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University.Beginning at age 13 and throughout high school, Alec studied with Dr. Andrew Zohn.During this time, Alec was awarded first prize in several high school division competitions, includingthe 2010 East Carolina Guitar Competition, the 2011 Columbus State Guitar Competition,the 2011 Appalachian Guitarfest, and the Parkening International Young Guitarist Competition in 2012.Alec has performed on NPR's From the Top radio broadcast, and was named a 2013 YoungArts National Finalist.Alec was a finalist in several collegiate competitions, including the Columbus State Guitar Competition and the Texas A&M International Guitar Competition, and most recently won first prize at the East Carolina Guitar Competition in 2014.Alec is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Music degree at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studies with David Starobin and Jason Vieaux.