Gonzalo Arias Contreras was born in 1989 in Los Andes, Chile. Arias Contreras started working towards his bachelor of arts with a concentration in classical guitar at the age of 14 at the University of Chile in Santiago, under the care of the master Romilio Orellana.
Arias Contreras has received many prestigious awards and top prizes in national and international competitions, among them The Parkening Young Guitarists Competition in Malibu, USA; the Split Guitar Festival and Competition in Croatia; the Jose Tomas Guitar Competition in Almeria, Spain; the Youth Liliana Perez Corey competition in Santiago, Chile; the Concerto Competition at Pepperdine University in Malibu, USA; the Concurso Juvenil Momento Musical Op. 2009 in Asunción, Paraguay; and the Guitar Foundation of America International Youth Guitar Solo Competition in Los Angeles, USA.
Gonzalo Arias Contreras has played with the Pepperdine Symphonic Orchestra in the USA, and he was invited to play in the Ventura Music festival in California, and the Allberville Conservatory in France.
He has participated in master classes with renowned guitarists Elliot Fisk, Zoran Dukic, Carlo Marchione and Hubert Kappel, and he participated in the Seminar 15 Internationales Pfingstseminar in Koblenz, Germany, and the Twents Festival in Enschede, Netherlands.
In 2007 and 2008, Arias Contreras won a scholarship to study at Pepperdine University in California under Christopher Parkening in the Parkening Artist Program.
Currently he is continuing his education at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, under the care of Manuel Barrueco.
Petrit Çeku was born in 1985 in Prizren, Kosovo, where he received instruction from Luan Sapunxhiu. In 2002, he moved to Zagreb, Croatia, where he continued his music education under the instruction of Xhevdet Sahatxhija and later entering Darko Petrinjak’s class at the Music Academy in Zagreb, from where he graduated in 2008.
Çeku has won top prizes in numerous competitions. Among them first prize in the All-Croatian Competition in Dubrovnik in 2003 as well as first prize in the international guitar competition Anna Amalia in Weimar, Germany. The following year he won the Emilio Pujol guitar competition in Sassari, Italy, as well as the Andrés Segovia in Velbert, Germany. Also in 2004, he represented Croatia in the European Music Prize for Youth in Dubrovnik and won first prize, as well as the Croatian Composers’ Union prize for the performance of a work by a Croatian composer. He was the only guitarist in the international young music artists’ competition Ferdo Livadic in Samobor, Croatia, and won first prize by unanimous decision of the jury. He also won the annual prize of The Croatian Music Youth in the year 2005.
Petrit Çeku was awarded the Silver Medal in The Parkening Competition in Malibu, California, and second prize in the Printemps de la guitare in Charleroi, Belgium in 2006. By winning the Pittaluga Competition in Alessandria, Italy (2007), Petrit Çeku established himself as one of the leading guitarists of the young generation. In 2008, Petrit Çeku was awarded the annual prize of The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra as The Best Young Musician of the Year 2008, and his first solo CD was released on the Naxos label.
He currently studies with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, USA.
A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Jeremy Lyons began studying the classical guitar at a young age with his father Glenn Lyons, who is the professor of classical guitar at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Along with the guitar, Lyons studied the cello growing up with Ovidiu Marinescu, who is a professor of cello and orchestral conductor at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Lyons graduated with a bachelor of music degree in guitar performance (summa cum laude) from the Florida State University where he studied for four years with Bruce Holzman. While attending Florida State University, he also studied the viola da gamba with professor Pamela Andrews, the Renaissance lute with Anthony Rooley, and the gu-zheng (an ancient Chinese zither) with Haiqiong Deng. He was a member of the FSU Viols, the FSU Chinese Ensemble, and he regularly accompanied the FSU Early Music Ensembles, under the direction of Dr. Jeffery Kite-Powell.
As a guitarist, Jeremy Lyons has performed in several master classes for artists including Marcin Dylla, Franco Platino, and Jerome Ducharme. Most recently he won first prize in the 2009 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society Student Competition in the collegiate division.
Jeremy Lyons is currently completing his master of music degree in guitar performance and pedagogy at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he studies with Manuel Barrueco.
Piotr Pakhomkin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia is 1985.
Atypically for a classical musician, he began to formally study the guitar when he was already 17 years old, with Paul Moeller at the Levine Preparatory in Washington, D.C.. A year later, he became the first guitarist to win the Marlin Engel Solo Instrumental Competition in the U.S. and had performed at the Kennedy Center and D.A.R. Constitution Hall. His debut recital was reviewed by the Washington Guitar Society as “sensational.”
Recently, Pakhomkin has performed in solo recital for the Waterford Series, New Zealand Embassy, Canadian Embassy, Dutch Embassy, Annapolis State House, and Peabody’s Thursday Noon Series. Continuing the tradition of developing the guitar as a true concert instrument has been met with awards from the Grammy Foundation and the Theodore Presser Foundation.
At age 18, he received a scholarship to study at the Peabody Conservatory with guitar icon, Manuel Barrueco. In addition to his teacher, Pakhomkin has received one on one training from countless luminaries including Ben Verdery, Sergio & Odair Assad, Raphaela Smits, Ray Chester, Risa Carlson and Franco Platino, and as well as chamber coachings with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
Piotr Pakhomkin is currently receiving his master’s degree under the tutelage Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory.
Marco Antonio San Nicolas was born in Murcia, Spain, where he completed his musical studies at the Rafael Orozco Superior Conservatory of Music with honors, in addition to his private lessons with the Spanish master, Jose Tomas. He has performed in master classes with such masters as Manuel Barrueco, David Russell, and Leo Brouwer.
San Nicolas has earned top prizes at major national and international competitions: First prize in the Isaac Albeniz National Guitar Competition; first prize in the Ruperto Chapi National Competition (string division); first prize in the Francisco Tarrega International Guitar Competition in Villareal; first prize in the Cantabria International Guitar Competition; and first prize in the Cordoba International Guitar Festival Competition to name a few.
San Nicolas has performed in concert throughout Spain and Europe and his recitals have been broadcast on Spanish radio and television. At the Cordoba International Guitar Festival, he shared top bill with artists such as B. B. King, Pat Metheny, George Benson, and Manuel Barrueco. The Cordoba Diary described Mr. San Nicolas as a “…solid concert guitarist, his sound has body and richness of color, and as a guitar player, he has all the technical means to completely develop all of his musical potential, which is substantial.”
San Nicolas has collaborated on a CD with the winners from the other divisions of the Ruperto Chapi National Competition, where he recorded music of the Spanish composer Federico Moreno Torroba.
He was a professor of guitar at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory and the Antonio de Nebrija Institute of Music for several years.
In 2009 Marco Antonio San Nicolas was awarded the “Solomon H. Snyder Annual Scholarship in Guitar,” the “Augustine Foundation Annual Scholarship,” and a scholarship by the Spanish government to study at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he is currently enrolled in the graduate performance diploma program with Maestro Manuel Barrueco.
Called “une grande musicienne…pleine de sensibilité et de couleurs,” by composer Jacques Hétu, Tracy Anne Smith is garnering increasing praise for her expressive performances, rich tonal palette and musical control. Cuban composer and conductor Leo Brouwer praised her “polyphonic hands” and “tremendous sound” while American virtuoso Benjamin Verdery commended her “ability to express the emotion of a work to its core.”
Her playing has brought her to the concert platform in Germany, England, France, Italy, Spain, the USA, Mexico, and her native Canada. In demand for solo recitals and master classes as a visiting artist, she has performed and taught at the Alexandria Guitar Festival and the International Festival of Guitar in Mexico, and as Artist-in–Residence at the Strathmore Performing Arts Center.
In December 2008, Smith released a debut CD, featuring 20th and 21st century masterpieces including the 2009 Prix d’Eté winner Lilac.Star.Bird, a work written for her by the talented Taiwanese composer, Ying-Chen Kao. In addition to her solo endeavors, she plays with Canadian guitarist Rob MacDonald as ChromaDuo, an ensemble with a deep focus on the creation and performance of new music.
Tracy Anne Smith is currently completing a doctor of musical arts degree at the Peabody Conservatory under the guidance of Manuel Barrueco and Julian Gray. She earned a master’s at Yale University School of Music, and her undergraduate degree at University of Toronto, where she studied with Jeffrey McFadden and Norbert Kraft. In September 2007, she joined the faculty at the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C.. In the spring semester of 2009, she taught undergraduate and graduate guitar students at the University of Akron, Ohio.
Born in the coastal city of Qingdao, in the province of Shandong, China in 1988, Meng Su demonstrated her artistic gifts as an exceptionally talented guitarist from an early age.
Embarking on an exciting guitar career as one of the most outstanding guitarists of her generation, Meng Su began her training in classical guitar with renowned Professor Chen Zhi at the age of nine, where she quickly began attracting attention as a remarkable young talent. Before graduating from the High School of the Central Conservatory of Music of China in 2006, Su had already won many awards, including the 5th Vienna Youth Guitar Competition, the 48th Tokyo International Guitar Competition, the Christopher Parkening Young Guitarist Competition, and the 2nd Iserlohn International Guitar Competition in Germany.
In her short time as a performing artist, she has performed solo, duo, and quartet concerts across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Austria, Germany, Korea, Japan, and China, in which she has impressed audiences with an ability and artistry that exceeds her years.
Su’s discography includes a live CD and DVD release of a 2005 guitar concert in Korea as well as a release of Four Angels in Korea.
Meng Su formed a duo with Yameng Wang, and their first duo recording as the Beijing Guitar Duo, called Maracaípe, is schedule to release in the fall of 2009.
As a recipient of the “Solomon H. Snyder Award,” Su will do her New York debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in April of 2010.
Su, a recipient of the “Fanny B. Thalheimer Memorial Scholarships,” recently obtained her performer’s certificate from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, USA, and is currently continuing her studies with guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco, in the graduate performance diploma program.
Born in Qingdao, China in 1981, Yameng Wang fell in love with the classical guitar at a young age and began studying with the leading guitar professor in China, Chen Zhi, when she was 10 years old.
Utilizing her significant talent, she became the youngest champion of the 36th Tokyo International Guitar Competition at the age of 12. She went on to win second prize in the 28th Michele Pittaluga International Guitar Competition in Italy at the age of 13, and at the age of 14 she was invited by Radio France to perform at the 27th Paris International Guitar Art Week and won second prize in La Infanta Doña Cristina International Guitar Competition in Spain. Classical Guitar magazine noted that at the age of 14, she already played like a “seasoned professional.”
Wang has given acclaimed recitals across the US, France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia both as a soloist and in chamber music setting.
Her first album, Caprice was recorded when she was 16 years old. A Very Special Album was released in 1999, and in 2003 she contributed GHA’s album, The Best of Classical Guitar. In 2005 Classic Guitar – Aquarelle, Un Sueño en la Floresta was released.
Her latest recording Maracaîpe is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2009. On it she performs Brazilian music with her duo partner Meng Su. This is the first recording they release as the Beijing Guitar Duo.
After graduating from the Central Conservatory of Music of China in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree, Wang, a recipient of the “Sylvia Friedberg Nachlas Endowed Scholarship,” enrolled in the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore with a full scholarship. There, she finished her master of music degree in 2008 and is currently finishing her graduate performance diploma with guitar great Manuel Barrueco.
As a recipient of the “Solomon H. Snyder Award,” Yameng Wang will do her New York debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in April of 2010, with her duo partner Meng Su.