Benjamin Verdery, guitarist & composer
Described by the NY Times as “an iconoclastic player” and “an American original, an American master” by Sound Board Magazine, Benjamin Verdery has been hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career.
In a recent interview, Ben brought us up to date.
“2017 was an exciting year that began with a world premiere of a gorgeous piece written for me by one of my dearest mentors, Seymour Bernstein entitled Searching for a Chorale. I’m thrilled to say that the piece has been published by Doberman-Yipan with a video available on You Tube. Beat Box champion/vocal artist Mark Martin and the Michiyaya Dance Company, who choreographed a group of my Etudes, joined me for a few East Coast concerts. I was honored to write the competition piece the rain falls equally on all things for the Changsha International Guitar festival (China). It was a wonderful festival and am thrilled that Doberman has published the piece. The piece will appear on my forth coming CD featuring all of my own compositions recorded at Elm City Records. Solomon Silber and I continue to release exciting new videos of a variety of performers for Elm City Records.
A highlight of 2018 will be the world premiere of a new piece by Bryce Dessner for string quartet and guitar with the fabulous St. Lawrence Quartet at the 92 Y on May 10. In addition, I will be recording Bryce’s piece along with my own new arrangement of Leonard Bernstien’s Clarinet Sonata for guitar and string quartet.
I’ve been commissioned by Javier Farias to write a new piece for his wonderful Chilean Guitar Ensemble and the brilliant singer / songwriter Nano Stern. Come see the premier in Santiago in November!
Finally, a book entitled Benjamin Verdery A Montage of a Classical Guitarist, published by Hamilton Books and written by Thomas Donahue, including several of my own essays, will be released in May.
I’m into my 33nd year as the guitar professor at the Yale School of Music, my 10th year as Artistic Director of 92Y’s Art of the Guitar series and the 19th year of my Maui Summer Master Class! And, I have just accepted the position of Artistic Director of the Connecticut Guitar Festival. I look forward to curating this event annually.
As always, Peace, Love and guitars!!”
Benjamin Verdery's tours regularly take him throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, performing at venues and 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. He has recorded and/or performed with such diverse artists as Andy Summers, Frederic Hand, William Coulter, Leo Kottke, Anthony Newman, Jessye Norman, Paco Peña, Hermann Prey, John Williams, hip-hop artist Billy Dean Thomas, beat box/vocal percussionist Marc Martin and Nano Stern.
Ben’s discography includes over 15 recordings. In addition to recent releases, recordings include Happy Here with William Coulter; Branches, featuring works of Bach, Strauss, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart and the traditional Amazing Grace; Start Now (2005 Classical Recording Foundation Award); Some Towns & Cities (winner of Guitar Player Magazines Best Classical Guitar Recording 1991) and collaborations with John Williams (John Williams Plays Vivaldi) and Andy Summers (First You Build a Cloud). Future recordings include Searching For A Chorale, music by and inspired by J.S. Bach, and a recording featuring his classical guitar arrangements of Randy Newman, Neil Young, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Eddy Vedder, The National, Cream and Elvis Presley.
Many of the leading composers of our time have created music for Ben, including Ezra Laderman, Daniel Asia, Martin Bresnick, Bryce Dessner, Javier Farrias, Aaron Kernis, John Anthony Lennon, David Leisner, Hannah Lash, Ingram Marshall, Anthony Newman, Roberto Sierra, Van Stiefel, Christopher Theofanitis, and Jack Vees. Of particular note was the commission by the Yale University Music Library of a work by Ingram Marshall for classical and electric guitars. Ben Verdery and Andy Summers premiered this work, Dark Florescence, at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra. Bryce Dessner (guitarist with The National) has been commissioned to compose a work for guitar and string quartet that will premiere in 2018 with the St Lawrence String Quartet.
A prolific, published composer in his own right, many of Ben’s compositions have been performed, recorded and published over the years. He has been commissioned to compose works for The Assad Duo, guitarist David Russell, John Williams and John Etheridge, The Changsha International Guitar Festival, The Chilean Guitar Ensemble, the Pensacola Guitar Orchestra (FL), Kyo-Shin-An Arts (NY), Wake Forest University, Thomas Offermann and the guitar ensemble of the Hochschule for Music and Theatre (Rostock, Germany) and the score for the documentary film Corida Goyesque. Ben’s Scenes from Ellis Island, for guitar orchestra, has been extensively broadcast and performed at festivals and universities in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Europe, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet included it on their CD, Air and Ground (Sony Classical). Doberman-Yppan (Canada) is currently publishing his solo and duo works for guitar, and Alfred Music distributes the solo pieces from Some Towns & Cities as well as instructional books and video. See Sheet Music page.