Renowned guitarist Benjamin Verdery

Renowned guitarist Benjamin Verdery

Kahului, Hawai‘i – Virtuoso guitarists Ian O’Sullivan, Ray Zhou, Arash Noori will perform a free noon concert at UH Maui College on Friday, July 25. The program, sponsored by the UH-Maui College Music Department, will include baroque guitar, classical guitar, and ‘ukulele, and will take place in the science building lecture theatre (‘Ike Le‘a 144) at 12:00 PM. The concert is a special event in the week-long guitar masterclass taught by the renowned American guitarist and chair of the guitar department at the Yale School of Music, Benjamin Verdery. This year marks the 15th year that Mr. Verdery has held a guitar masterclass on Maui. Over that time, over 125 guitarists have come from across the United States and around the world to Maui to study with Mr. Verdery, many of them returning multiple times. The class includes one-on-one instruction not only with Mr. Verdery but also with world-famous guest teachers, including this year John Dearman of the acclaimed Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. The class also includes the performance of ensemble music, with the 15 to 20 guitarists in the class performing as a guitar orchestra. Each year, the orchestra performs at least one piece of music written by a Hawaiian composer. This year, that piece will be Bailey Matsuda’s “Born and Raised,” in an arrangement by Ian O’Sullivan.

O‘ahu-based Guitarist Ian O'Sullivan

O‘ahu-based Guitarist Ian O’Sullivan

The concert at Maui college will feature three extraordinary young performers, all of whom have studied with Mr. Verdery, either on Maui, at Yale, or both. Ian O’Sullivan grew up on the north shore of Oahu, where became proficient at a young age on the ukulele. After being introduced to the classical guitar at UH Manoa by Hawaiian classical, jazz and slack-key guitarist Jeff Peterson, Ian first attended Mr. Verdery’s class in 2004. He returned to Maui for the class every year for several years, and eventually become the first Hawaiian guitarist ever admitted to the prestigious guitar program at Yale, where he won the coveted Elliot Fisk Award. He returned to Oahu in 2012, accepting a position as lecturer in classical guitar from his alma mater. Since then, he has released his first CD, Born and Raised, which features his own compositions as well as music by Hawaiian composers such as Bailey Matsuda, Darin Au, Byrn Yasui, and Jeff Peterson. For this recording, Ian was a finalist in the 2014 Na Hōkū Hanohano awards. The other performers on the concert at Maui College will be two current Yale School of Music students of Mr. Verdery, Ray Zhou and Arash Noori. Mr. Noori is currently pursuing the Yale School of Music’s most advanced and extensive degree, the Doctorate of Music. In recent years, Arash has developed a passion for early plucked stringed instruments, including the baroque guitar, which he will be playing in this concert. In September, Mr. Zhou will begin Yale School of Music’s highly competitive Artist Diploma program. He is currently working on a CD of new guitar music, including a piece of Mr. Verdery’s that Ray has adapted for the 7-string classical guitar, which he will be playing in this recital. In addition to his classical playing, Ray has a wonderful reputation as a virtuosos electric guitarist and has taught many electric guitar workshops over the years.

Other events in this year’s week-long masterclass include:

  • An opening concert, the “Maui Guitar Extravaganza,” on Tuesday, July 22, at 7:00 PM at Makawao Union Church in Paia, featuring solo and ensemble music by Benjamin Verdery, John Dearman, Jeff Peterson, and Ian O’Sullivan.
  • A special concert on Sunday, July 27, at 2:00 PM at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kula, featuring Ray Zhou and Arash Noori.
  • Student concerts featuring solo and ensemble performances by class participants on Tuesday, July 29, at 7:00 PM, at the Lahaina Jodo Mission, and on Wednesday, July 30, at 7:00 PM, at Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena.
  • Masterclass sessions will be taught from Wednesday, July 23 to Wednesday, July 30, at Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena, taught by Benjamin Verdery and John Dearman.

For more information, please contact John Olson at verderyclass@gmail.com.