Once again, NIU will present a series of recitals featuring some of the most talented guitarists in the world.
The 2023-2024 Northern Illinois University International Guitar Series begins, Sunday, September 24 with Waller and Maxwell Guitar Duo, at 3 p.m. in the Recital Hall in the NIU Music Building.
Mark Maxwell and Anne Waller are a husband and wife duo who are both faculty members of the Northwestern University School of Music. They have toured together for more than 30 years.
The Waller and Maxwell Guitar Duo has explored the repertoire for two guitars and contributed to it through their arrangements of works for other instruments. Also, they enjoy sharing their interest and advocating for nineteenth-century guitar duo music performed on original instruments. Soundboard magazine wrote of Anne Waller and Mark Maxwell, “Great playing! This duo delivers the goods from moment to moment and piece to piece.”
Since joining forces in 1981, the Waller and Maxwell Guitar Duo have been presented in a wide variety of concert venues, including the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.; Guitar Foundation of America festivals; the Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festivals; The Rantucci Festival in Buffalo, New York; Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts and Mostly Music, Inc. in Chicago as well as by guitar societies in Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Memphis, and North Carolina.
The series continues, Sunday, November 5 at 5 p.m. in the Recital Hall with French classical guitarist Gabriel Bianco. Bianco is widely acknowledged as an esteemed classical guitarist of our time, having garnered First Prize in several esteemed international competitions, including the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Guitar Competition in 2008 and the Koblenz International Guitar Competition in 2007.
In 2011, he was honored with the distinguished title of “Révélation Classique” by ADAMI (Society for the Collective Administration of Performers’ Rights in France). Throughout his career, Gabriel has graced over forty countries with his performances, captivating audiences in renowned festivals and prestigious concert halls worldwide.
On Thursday, February 29, Benjamin Verdery, chair of the guitar department at the Yale University School of Music will perform at 5 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Verdery is lauded for his innovative and eclectic musical career, antours regularly throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, performing at venues and festivals including Ottawa ChamberFest, 92Y Kaufmann Auditorium, Verona Guitar Festival, Guitar Festival of Belgrade, International Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Taxco (Mexico), Theatre Carré (Amsterdam), the International Guitar Festival in Havana, Wigmore Hall (London), and Metropolitan Opera in New York.
As a recording artist, Verdery has released more than 17 albums and 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.
The series concludes, Friday April 5 at 5 p.m. in the Recital Hall with a performance by Bokyung Byun, a guitarist from Seoul, South Korea. Byung was the recipient of the 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Bokyung Byun enjoys a reputation as one of the most sought-after guitarists of her generation. Bokyung holds the distinction of being the first female winner of the prestigious JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, where Falletta herself described Bokyung’s performance as “stunning, showcasing her gorgeous tone, immaculate technique, and sophisticated musicianship.” Other recent honors include the grand prize at the 2021 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition and the Montreal International Classical Guitar Competition.
Bokyung’s debut recording in 2020 has been praised by Soundboard Magazine as, “a very beautiful disc…We are treated to extraordinary musicianship, technical assurance, and beauty of sound.” In 2022, American Record Guide chose her Naxos Laurate Series recording as the Critics’ Choice Album, remarking her style as “very reminiscent of Andres Segovia.”
Bokyung is currently on the guitar faculty of University of North Texas. She is an Augustine Strings artist and plays a guitar by Dieter Mueller (2019).
All four concerts in this series are open to the public and free of charge. For more information on performances at the NIU School of Music and the College of Visual and Performing Arts visit the events calendar at calendar.niu.edu/cvpa.