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Sharon Isbin


One of our century's best musicians.

In her hands the guitar takes on the precision of a diamond, each note a clear, shining facet that catches, prism-like, a glint of the spectrum.
New York Times


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Acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility, multiple Grammy Award winner Sharon Isbin has been hailed as ‘the pre-eminent guitarist of our time.’ Winner of the Madrid, Toronto, and Munich competitions, and Guitar Player’s ‘Best Classical Guitarist’ award, Ms. Isbin gives sold-out performances throughout the world in halls including New York’s Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls, London’s Barbican, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein, Munich’s Herkulessaal, and Madrid’s Teatro Real. She has served as Artistic Director/Soloist of festivals she created for Carnegie Hall and New York’s 92nd Street Y. On September 11, 2002, Ms. Isbin performed at Ground Zero for the internationally televised memorial. In November 2009, she performed a concert at the White House by invitation of the President and First Lady. She performed as featured soloist in the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award winning film, The Departed. She has been profiled in periodicals from People to Elle, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, as well as on the cover of more than 40 magazines.

Ms. Isbin’s catalogue of over 25 recordings – from Baroque, Spanish/Latin and 20th Century to crossover and jazz-fusion – reflects remarkable versatility. Sharon Isbin received a 2010 Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist for her CD Journey to the New World (Sony), a musical voyage from the British Isles to the New World with guests Joan Baez in songs and violin virtuoso Mark O’Connor in the world premiere of his folk-inspired suite for violin and guitar. With Dreams of a World she won the 2001 Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist, making her the first classical guitarist to receive a Grammy in 28 years. Her Latin Grammy-nominated recording with the New York Philharmonic of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and concerti by Ponce and Villa-Lobos marked the Philharmonic’s first-ever recording with guitar and followed its Avery Fisher Hall performances with Isbin as its first guitar soloist in 26 years.

Sharon Isbin has expanded the guitar repertoire with some of the finest new works of the 20th century and her recordings have been characterized by the noteworthy contributions of renowned composers and collaborators. Her world premiere recording of concerti written for her by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun, received both a 2002 Grammy Award and Germany’s Echo Klassik Award for Best Concert Recording. Her American Landscapes features concerti written for her by Corigliano, Schwantner, and Foss (in November 1995, it was launched in the space shuttle Atlantis and presented to Russian cosmonauts during a rendezvous with Mir). Others who have written for her include Tower, Diamond, Rorem, Kernis and Brouwer. In 2005 she premiered a duo by rock guitarist Steve Vai in their joint concert in Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet.

Ms. Isbin has appeared as a soloist with over 160 orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Baltimore, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St. Louis, New Jersey and Honolulu Symphonies, London Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Scottish Chamber, Zurich and Lausanne Chamber Orchestras, BBC Scottish, Gulbenkian, Toscanini, Prague, Milan, Mexico City, Jerusalem, and Tokyo Symphonies. Festival appearances include Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Ravinia, Interlochen, Santa Fe, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Montreux, Strasbourg, Ravenna, Ravello, Paris, Athens, Istanbul, Prague Spring and Budapest International Festivals. She toured with jazz greats Laurindo Almeida, Larry Coryell, Herb Ellis, Stanley Jordan, and the late Michael Hedges, and has performed with Nigel Kennedy, Denyce Graves, the Emerson String Quartet, among others. She shared the stage with celebrities from Aretha Franklin to Muhammad Ali.

Sharon Isbin is the director of guitar departments at the Aspen Music Festival and the Juilliard School, which she created in l989 becoming the first and only guitar instructor in the institution’s 100-year history.

Born in Minneapolis, Sharon Isbin began her guitar studies, and later studied with Andrès Segovia and Oscar Ghiglia. A former student of Rosalyn Tureck, Ms. Isbin collaborated with the noted keyboardist in preparing the first performance editions of the Bach lute suites for guitar (published by G. Schirmer). She received a B.A. cum laude from Yale University and a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music.

In her spare time, Ms. Isbin enjoys trekking in the jungles of Latin America, motorcycling through Greek islands, cross-country skiing, snorkeling and backpacking.