Brad Richter (he/his) is the executive director and co-founder of Lead Guitar. Equal parts performer, composer, and educator he has made nearly one-thousand concert appearances in North America and Europe - more than fifty of which were aired on NPR’s Performance Today. Since completing his Master’s degree in classical guitar at The Royal College of Music in London, Brad has performed around the globe with artists such as nine-time Grammy winner David Finckel. Brad is the winner of the National Fingerpicking Championship, the International Composer’s Guild Competition, and the National Music Teachers Association’s commissioned composer award, and he was the first guitarist ever to win the Royal College of Music’s Thomas Mohrherr Prize. He is a sought-after collaborator with artists such as cellist Viktor Uzur with whom he tours as the Richter Uzur Duo, his former mentor from the Royal College of Music, Carlos Bonell, and Broadway star Ben Vereen, as well as The Pacifica String Quartet and The Phoenix Chorale. Brad also enjoys several long-term collaborations as an artist-in-residence, including more than a decade with the Aspen Music Festival and School.
As a composer, Brad is known for his own brand of genre-mashing chamber music. Winner of the International Composer’s Guild Competition, his major commissions have included Navigating Lake Bonneville, a concert-length work for Weber State University; Duo Concerto for Cello and Guitar, co-written with Viktor Uzur for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra; Fragments Transcending, premiered by David Finckel; Devil in the Details, commissioned by the National Music Teachers Association; and the musical score for an episode of the Emmy award-winning PBS series The Desert Speaks. Brad’s collections of concert music for solo guitar are published by Mel Bay, Acoustic Music Records, GSP, and Sky Island Music.
In his role as Director of Outreach for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona, Brad collaborates with CFA faculty and leaders in the field of arts education to develop and operate the CFA in Schools programs, based on the Lead Guitar model. Between Lead Guitar and CFA in Schools, he oversees a carefully selected staff of 23 part- and full-time arts professionals in operating programs in 60 schools in five states.
Holly Holmes, Director of Operations
Holly Holmes (she/hers) is Lead Guitar's primary administrator, managing everything from scheduling and communications with our partner schools to finance and grant-writing. She has worked as an administrator for both non-profit and for-profit arts organizations, including as a jazz programming intern for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Holly earned a PhD in ethno-musicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and conducted dissertation research in Brazil as a 2011 Fulbright Scholar. Holly has taught jazz voice, music theory, and world music courses at universities and conservatories in the US and the UK and in Brazil she did so in fluent Portuguese. She has released two albums as a jazz vocalist.
Having benefited from excellent arts classes in the public schools of her native state of Wisconsin, Holly is impassioned to build upon Lead Guitar's arts education programming for those students most in need.
Marina Jarrette, Program & Events Manager
Marina Jarrette (she/hers) is an active actress, singer-songwriter, and director who believes strongly in arts accessibility and the transformative power of music.
Marina earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Music
Theatre from Arizona State University, as well as certifications in State, Foundational, and
Federal Grant Writing from the ASU Lodestar Nonprofit Center. She has performed with
multiple regional companies, including The Phoenix Theatre Company, Arizona Broadway
Theatre, and The Phoenix Symphony. Her work as a singer-songwriter debuted at the
Rockwood Music Hall in New York City, and she wrote and composed a new musical
(Legendary) which was a finalist at the Headwaters New Play Festival in Colorado, a semifinalist
for the Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference, and an invitational recipient
for the ASCAP New Musical Workshop with Stephen Schwartz in Los Angeles. She has
directed for projects like the Seattle 48-Hour Film Festival, Parade, and ROAR! A Celebration.
She has also worked with The Bridge Initiative, an Arizona-based nonprofit
advocating for gender equity in the arts, attending board meetings and serving on the audience building committee and the artistic selection committee for the Bechdel 2.0 New Works Festival.
Marina is passionate about the inherent value of artistic expression in all forms, and is excited to be helping Lead Guitar champion accessible music education for everyone.
Mara Sandroff, Marketing & Development Associate
Mara Sandroff (she/hers) first discovered the world of arts education as a teenager, where she worked as a teen liaison to a local nonprofit community theatre. Upon graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, she attended Columbia Publishing Course at the University of Oxford and has worked with numerous New York publishing companies, including as a social media administrator at Oxford University Press. She is also a former PR Intern with Broadway in Tucson and Arizona Arts Live.
Mara is a prolific fiction writer and alumna of One Story’s 2019 Summer Writers Conference and Kenyon Review’s 2021 Writers Workshop. She has worked with writers Angie Cruz, Nathan Englander, Carolyn Ferrell, David Hollander, Lisa Ko, Darin Strauss, Matthew Thomas, and John Freeman, among others. She is currently finishing her M.F.A. in creative writing at NYU’s Writers Workshop in Paris, where she is working on a novel about a young girl’s coming-of-age before the apocalypse.
Regional Director for Chicago, IL
Highly praised by the international press, Denis Azabagic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (he/his), performs concerts around the world, maintaining a balance between his solo recitals, chamber music with the Cavatina Duo and Fandango quartet as well as engagements as soloist with orchestras.
Azabagic’s love for performing extends to sharing with others his knowledge of music making. He frequently offers master classes while on tour, teaches at the University of Illinois and is the head of the guitar department at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
He has won twenty-four prizes in international competitions and Mel Bay has published a book based on his experience and insights on the subject of competitions. Azabagic has recorded 13 CDs for international labels such as Naxos, Cedille, Opera Tres, Bridge records, Neos and Orobroy, as well as two DVDs for the Mel Bay Company. His recordings and live performances are highly praised by music critics, for his elegant approach to music and his unique way of communicating and reaching the audiences’ hearts.
As a guest instrumentalist and soloist Azabagic has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Sacramento Chamber Orchestra, Madrid Symphony, Traverse Symphony, Monterrey Symphony, L’Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Mons, among many others. He has also collaborated with the Casals Quartet, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Civitas Ensemble and Music Now.
His repertoire includes solo and orchestral music from the Baroque era to the present. As half of the active Cavatina Duo (with Eugenia Moliner, flute), he has performed a vast repertoire including many works written expressly for the duo.
Denis Azabagic uses D'Addario strings.
Regional Director for Phoenix, AZ
Andrew Lesley Smith (he/his) is a classical guitarist based in Phoenix, Arizona, where he performs both as a solo artist and as a founding member of the Augustine Strings sponsored ensemble Petrichor Duo. Recent notable performances include the Pinnacle Chamber Series, the Spirit of the Senses Concert Series, and former Senator John McCain’s state funeral at the personal request of the First Lady of Arizona. His playing is influenced by his interest in both very old and very new music for the guitar. In addition to performing his own compositions for solo guitar, Andrew frequently collaborates with composers to develop, premier, and publish new repertoire. Published works dedicated to Andrew can be found through Productions d’Oz and Tradurre Musica. He has been awarded travel grants to both perform and study internationally in Spain and Quebec.
As an educator, Andrew has taught guitar and music theory both privately and in the classroom to students of all ages and has spent multiple years on the teaching staff of the Texas Music Festival - Classical Minds. With Lead Guitar, Andrew works with hundreds of public school students in Phoenix and throughout Arizona each week, often traveling to the Apache and Navajo reservations. Andrew holds a Master of Music in Guitar Performance from ASU, where he taught undergraduate music majors as a Teaching Assistant for the renowned scholar Frank Koonce. Andrew began studying the guitar with the French guitarist Valerie Hartzell, and he completed his undergraduate degree with honors under Steve Kostelnik at Southwestern University. In addition to playing and teaching guitar, Andrew also builds guitars in his spare time. He has built both electric and classical guitars, and recently studied classical lutherie under master builder Sergei de Jonge. When he is away from the guitar, Andrew enjoys hiking, camping and backpacking throughout the southwest.
Regional Director for Los Angeles, CA
Jaxon Williams (he/his) began the study of classical guitar at the age of seven. He has won prizes in numerous classical guitar competitions including the OSAA Classical Guitar Competition, Sierra Nevada International Guitar Competition, San Francisco Bay International Guitar Competition, Pacific Guitar Festival and Competition, and most recently a winner of the Beverly Hills National Auditions. Jaxon is also an alumni of the Aspen Music Festival, where he studied with Juilliard's Sharon Isbin, and he holds a Master's of Music in Guitar Performance from Arizona State University with Frank Koonce, where he was the sole recipient of the Burns Guitar Scholarship and also was awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. He is also a 2015/16 Fulbright Scholar, winning the grant to study Flamenco and Spanish repertoire in Seville, Spain. While there he studied with Francisco Bernier, Zoran Dukic, and Judicael Perroy as part of an International Performance program, while simultaneously studying Flamenco guitar at the renowned Fundación Cristina Heerén.
Jaxon is currently a Doctoral Candidate at USC’s Thornton School of Music, where he was awarded the position of Graduate Teaching Assistant. There, he teaches introductory guitar courses and studies performance with William Kanengiser of the renowned LAGQ, as well as Scott Tennant and Brian Head. He also studies Flamenco with virtuoso guitarist Adam del Monte.
As a performer, he stays busy playing solo recitals and performing chamber music in various groups. Jaxon also plays Flamenco guitar, and has gives performances in both the USA and Spain.
As a teacher, Jaxon has worked with Lead Guitar in over 12 different schools in 3 different states, with hundreds of collective students. He was recently promoted to Lead Guitar's Regional Director for California, where Jaxon also works at USC as the Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching undergraduate level guitar courses.
As a recording artist, Jaxon has 3 albums: his self-titled debut album, his album La Catedral, which features works from Spain and Latin America, and his most recent album Far and Away. Jaxon also works as a studio guitarist, writing songs for commercials and/or adding guitar parts into music for original artists.
Regional Director for Colorado
Nick Lenio (he/his) has dedicated the past 10 years to music education in public schools and has been teaching with Lead Guitar since 2013. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in Instrumental Conducting from Messiah College. Nick served as Director of Bands at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, PA for three years before moving to Colorado to be the Director of Bands at Basalt Middle School and Basalt High School.
During the 7 years that Nick directed the 5th-12th grade bands at Basalt, the program grew from ~150 students to over 330 students. In 2015, Nick was named “Music Teacher of the Year” by Jazz Aspen Snowmass. In 2016, he was nominated and became a semi-finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award.
His New Orleans-style street band, the Basalt StreetHorns, has performed for many local events and as an opening act for groups such as Train, Andy Grammer, Michael Franti, and Lionel Richie. As a local musician, Nick is in high demand; performing on guitar, bass guitar, and trombone.
Outside of the classroom, Nick spends as much time as possible trail running, rock climbing, mountain biking, and snowboarding with his wife and pups.
Alfredo "Freddy" Vazquez
Regional Director for Tucson, AZ
Alfredo "Freddy" Vazquez (he/his) has been amazing the stage since the age of 17 after his solo debut in Salzburg, Austria. Mr. Vazquez has won and placed in numerous guitar competitions such as the William Wolf, Thomas Schaffer, Maricopa County Artist of Promise competitions and, most recently, the Memphis International Competition.
Along with competing and performing, Mr. Vazquez has been a dedicated educator for many years. While in his early music education at Glendale Community College, under the tutelage of Charles Hulihan in classical guitar performance, he was a tutor and section leader for beginning guitar classes and ensembles. While studying with Prof. Tom Patterson and Dr. Renato Serrano at the University of Arizona while earning his Bachelors' Degree in Music, Mr. Vazquez had the opportunity to have multiple lessons with Grammy award winners David Russell, Sergio Assad, and Odair Assad each year. Mr. Vazquez has performed in master classes with world-renowned artists, such as Marcin Dylla, Judicael Perroy, Rene Izquerdo, Carlos Perez, and Vladimir Gorbach. In 2014, Mr. Vazquez won 1st Place in the William Wolf Competition, winning a 2015 Jeremy Cooper guitar.
Mr. Vazquez has premiered pieces and worked with many composers, such as Brad Richter’s guitar duo concerto “Last Man Standing” commissioned for the Tucson Guitar Society Orchestra and Phil Moloso’s “Guitar Trio.” During his graduate career at Oklahoma City University, studying with Matt Denman, Stephan Lochbaum, and Lynn McGrath, he had the opportunity to dive even deeper into music education. Being a part of two teams: one that created a local guitar curriculum for local high school programs; and a second that was associated with the guitar curriculum for ASTA (American String Teacher Association). During that time, Mr.Vazquez developed and instructed a guitar “technique boot camp” for the undergraduate class while also conducting the OCU Freshmen Guitar Ensemble. Alfredo Vazquez currently resides in Tucson, Arizona and is an adjunct guitar professor at Cochise Community College.
Regional Director for Atlanta/Athens, GA
Daniel Bolshoy is an Assistant Professor in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia, where he directs the guitar program. An Israeli-Canadian guitarist, he has performed as a soloist with over sixty orchestras internationally, and he appears on seven commercial recordings and two documentary films on the Bravo! TV network. His recordings and live performances are often broadcast on CBC Radio, NPR, and various classical music stations.
Dr. Bolshoy holds a D.M. in classical guitar from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. As a teacher, Dr. Bolshoy frequently presents masterclasses for guitar societies, universities, high schools, music festivals, and other organizations. His students have won scholarships to leading universities and conservatories and have won awards in prestigious competitions.
Lead Guitar Teaching Artists
Pablo Gonzalez - since 2016
Pablo Gonzalez started studying classical guitar at the age of 14 at the Liceo Experimental Artístico under Professor Eduardo Gomez. In 2000, he began studies at the School of Fine Arts of the Universidad de Chile under Professor Ernesto Quezada, one of the most influential and prestigious pedagogues in the Chilean classical guitar scene. In 2010, Pablo was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue his Master's Degree in guitar performance at the University of Arizona under Prof. Thomas Patterson, being the first classical guitar performer ever in his native country to receive such an award. In 2011, he was awarded a Becas Chile (Chilean government award) scholarship to complement his Fulbright award. Upon graduation in 2013, Pablo was the recipient of a second Becas Chile award to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Arizona, as well as an invitation to serve as a guest artist in the Latin American Guitar Festival in Chicago.
Pablo also has actively participated in the Tucson classical guitar scene. In October 2015, he performed for a private event organized by the Arizona Opera that took place at the historic Sosa Carrillo Freemont House, receiving tremendous positive accolades from attendees and organizers. He was recently a finalist in the prestigious Third Annual David Russell Bach Prize.
Zhivko Nikolov - since 2016
Born in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, Zhivko Nikolov (he/his) started playing classical guitar at age 11. He went on to study at the Professor Pancho Vladigerov National School of Music and Fine Arts in Burgas, Bulgaria. There, he won prizes in music competitions for both voice and guitar, including the top prize for “Interpretation of Music by Bulgarian Composer” in 2004. Zhivko moved permanently to the United States in 2007 to study with concert guitarist Denis Azabagic at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Since then, he had studied under the supervision of the well-known performer and Professor Denis Azabagic. There, Zhivko met and performed for touring artists, including Marcin Dylla, Paul Galbraith, Elena Papandreo, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Nicholas Golouses, Mathew Cochran, Eduardo Catemario, Zoran Dukic, Aniello Desiderio, and Berta Rojas. Zhivko performs concerts and guitar seminars in and around the Chicago area as a soloist and a chamber musician and has been broadcast on WFMT, Chicago. Zhivko won 2nd Prize in the Louisville International Solo Competition, was a finalist in the Wilson Guitar Competition in Milwaukee, and was a semifinalist in the Rosario Guitar Competition in South Carolina, and the Indiana International Guitar Competition.
Zhivko has been teaching privately since 2006. He currently teaches at his own studio 6VibeZ Music Inc, as well as for the Gasse School of Music, St. Nicholas School of Arts, and Little Bulgarian School. As a Lead Guitar Master Instructor, Zhivko teaches classical guitar to more than 100 students weekly in a group setting. His private students have performed widely, including awards for 1st Prize in the SAM Competition in Chicago and 3rd Prize at the Latin Arts Guitar Competition in Milwaukee. Zhivko currently performs as a soloist and as half of flute and guitar Duo Utopia.
Pedro Pérez - since 2016
Pedro L. Pérez Cáceres was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and began studying the guitar with Emilio Cruz and later continued with Jacques Landry and Michael Curtis at the Interamerican University in San Germán, Puerto Rico. Mr. Pérez obtained his BA in Music from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, studying under Luis Enrique Júlia, José Rodriguez Alvira, and Leonardo Egúrbida. Later, Mr. Pérez received a Masters Degree in Music from Arizona State University as a Fulbright Scholar and a student of Professor Frank Koonce.
In 1998, Mr. Pérez was awarded the Pro-Arte scholarship from Asociación Pro Orquesta Sinfónica (APOS), to attend the National Guitar Workshop directed by Nathaniel Gunod and studied with Julian Gray, Michael Cedric Smith, and Richard Provost. Mr. Pérez has performed in master classes by Nicholas Goluses, Juan Mercadal, Leonardo Egúrbida, Eladio Sharon, William Kanengiser, and Xavier Jara. In 1999, Mr. Pérez was invited to perform an opening recital for the renowned popular music guitarist, José Feliciano, in El Paso, Texas. During the school year 2003-2004, Mr. Pérez joined the high school music faculty at the Rivera High School in Brownsville, Texas to be in charge of the music elective guitar classes, while also serving at the Estudiantina Director for the Rivera High School in the Brownsville Independent School District Fine Arts Program. Mr. Pérez's performances include duo concerts with the former Phoenix Symphony Principal Flutist Alex Viazovtsev for the Downtown Chamber Series directed by Mark Dix, a recording session with the flutist Sherry Finzer, 2 concerts with the flutist Monica Anthony for the Mill Ave. Chamber Players Concert Series, and performances as a member of the Glendale Community College Guitar Orchestra, directed by Chuck Hulihan.
Currently, Mr. Pérez is a doctoral student in Guitar Performance at Arizona State University, studying under Prof. Frank Koonce and Prof. Jiyeon Kim. Mr. Pérez regularly performs for the Phoenix Guitar Society Meeting, hosted monthly the every second Sunday at the Tempe Historical Museum. Mr. Pérez spends time off practicing the electric guitar, swimming, hiking, dancing salsa (badly), and drinking coffee.
Nicholas Epple - since 2018
Nicholas Epple is pursuing his DMA in classical guitar at the University of Arizona with Tom Patterson and artists in residence David Russell, Odair Assad and Sergio Assad. Nicholas received first prize at the David Russell Bach competition in 2017 and was awarded second place at the Domaine Forget International Competition in Quebec in 2018. Nicholas has performed in France, Italy, Canada, and the states in workshops, festivals, and competitions. In the summer of 2015 he was awarded a full scholarship to study with Antigoni Goni in Volterra, Italy.
Kacey Ellis - since 2018
Born 1993 in Naples, Florida, Kacey Ellis (he/his) has been studying classical guitar from the age of ten. While in Florida, Kacey studied with Rafael Padron and Thomas Koch. In 2013, Kacey moved to the city of Chicago to study with Denis Azabagic at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Kacey graduated magna cum laude and was awarded the Music Performance Award. He completed his graduate work at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Kacey attended master classes with notable guitarists and pedagogues such as: Sergio Assad, Eden Stell Duo, Benjamin Verdery, Andrew York, and Margarita Escarpa. Through these experiences and mentors, Kacey has cultivated a thorough understanding of the various teaching methods and styles that exist in the guitar repertoire. He teaches in both private and group settings in Chicago.
David Sewell - since 2020
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi David Sewell (he/his) began playing electric guitar at the age of 13 and by 16 was teaching guitar at a local music store to all ages and levels. His electric guitar influences drew him to classical music where he began his pursuit as a classical guitarist.
David earned his Bachelor's Degree in Guitar Performance at the University of Southern Mississippi under Dr. Nicholas Ciraldo. He was awarded a teaching assistantship at the University of Louisiana and went on to earn his Master’s in Guitar Performance with Dr. Jeffrey George. While earning his DMA at Arizona State University under renowned pedagogue Frank Koonce, David was honored with an additional teaching assistantship, and was privileged to study with South Korean virtuoso JIJI.
David has performed in masterclasses with celebrated guitarists such as Brasil Guitar Duo, Martha Masters, Francisco Bernier, Rene Izquierdo, Anton Baranov, Adam Holzman, and Marcin Dylla. He regularly works with other musicians performing a broad range of genres. As a passionate chamber musician, David has premiered a guitar orchestra piece “By Chants” written by notable composer/guitarist Andrew York with the Arizona Guitar Orchestra and the Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. He received first prize in the UL Friends of Music Guitar Competition of 2016. Dr. Sewell’s further accomplishments include an arrangement of Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s Harpsichord Suite in A Minor for solo guitar. His first solo album of all harpsichord music is set to be released in 2020.
Residing now in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. David Sewell is a guitarist, arranger, educator and instructor for Lead Guitar. He is devoted to arranging unique repertoire for the guitar and teaching his students a wide variety of styles and techniques.
Bokyung Byun - since 2020
Los Angeles, CA
Praised by Classical Guitar Magazine as “confident and quite extraordinary,” Korean guitarist, Bokyung Byun (she/hers) enjoys a reputation as one of the most sought-after guitarists of her generation. Ms. Byun holds the distinction of being the first female winner of the prestigious JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, where Falletta herself described Byun’s performance as "stunning, showcasing her gorgeous tone, immaculate technique, and sophisticated musicianship. She is a winner in every sense of the word.” This win is among many wherein Ms. Byun excelled in the competitive circuit, including first-prize finishes at the Frances Walton Competition, the Montreal International Classical Guitar Competition, and the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competition.
A bevy of orchestras, festivals, workshops, and guitar societies look to Ms. Byun for solo performances and masterclasses. In recent seasons, Ms. Byun has performed as a soloist with orchestras, including the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Utah Symphony, West Los Angeles Symphony, among others. Her solo recital highlights include performances at the Philadelphia Guitar Festival, Toronto Guitar Weekend, Guitar Montréal, and Ellnora | The Guitar Festival.
As a passionate teaching artist, Ms. Byun was selected as a teaching artist fellow for The Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program, Morse Teaching Artist Fellowship, and McCabe Guitar Fellowship for four consecutive years. She has also organized and performed interactive concerts for the Young People's Concert Series of Lincoln Center. Since 2016, she has been serving as a chamber music instructor at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Ms. Byun began playing guitar at the age of six. She is now based in Los Angeles, where she is pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Southern California as the recipient of the prestigious International Artist Fellowship. She holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School.
Audrey Oden - since 2020
Denver, CO + Atlanta, GA
Audrey Oden (Potawatomi) (her/they) began playing the guitar at the age of 11 in her hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her first formal training came from Classen School of Advanced Studies, where she graduated with a performing arts diploma in 2014. After graduating high school, her studies continued on the collegiate level at Oklahoma City University. During her time at OCU, she studied with Matt Denman, Lynn McGrath, and Stephen Lochbaum. In 2017, she was awarded 2nd place at Eastern Music Festival’s guitar competition. Throughout her studies at OCU she gained experience performing classical guitar and lute in solo and ensemble settings, and received her Bachelor of Music in guitar performance in 2018. She graduated from University of Denver in the spring of 2020 with her masters of music in guitar performance where she had an assistantship teaching classical guitar to college students. At DU, she studied with Jonathan Leathwood and Laura Husbands and she will pursue a performance certificate at DU starting in the fall of 2020.
Russ Callison - since 2020
At the tender age of 16, Russ sold a pig to buy his first guitar. A Texas native transplanted to Colorado, Russ Callison (he/his) actively performs and teaches in the Denver metro area. Since earning his Master’s Degree in 2015, Russ has performed extensively in the US internationally, including a residency in France with his guitar & cello duo Solazur, a tour of Scotland with guitar duo Derelict Hands, and last summer performed at the Bali Arts Festival (PKB) as a member of Gamelan Tunas Mekar.
His formal training began at Collin College where he studied under Sabine Madriguera, There he participated in her award-winning One O’Clock Ensemble and earned two first prizes at the Brownsville Guitar Festival and Competition (2007 and 2010). While at Collin College, he was also awarded first prize in the advanced division of Collin College’s Annual Guitar Competition.
Russ attended the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music where he earned his Master’s degree under the tutelage of internationally acclaimed performers and pedagogues, Ricardo Iznaola and Jonathan Leathwood. His final recital at DU was recognized as one of the university's Outstanding Recitals in May 2015, and shortly after Derelict Hands took top prize in the ensemble division of the Southern Guitar Festival.
Christian Cruz - since 2021
Los Angeles, CA
Christian Cruz is a Mexican-American classical musician. As a native of Los Angeles, he grew up surrounded by the rock and hip hop scenes while simultaneously being influenced by the Latin American music of his own heritage. As a young guitarist he played rock in Hollywood venues such as the Whiskey A Go Go and the Roxy.
Christian began his studies as a professional musician at Fullerton College, where he focused on classical guitar and composition. He has studied classical guitar with Dr. Steve Thachuk and Grammy award winners William Kanengiser and John Dearman. Christian participated in the second annual Master in Classical Guitar Performance program in Seville where he performed numerous times at the chapel in the Alcázar of Seville.
He has received several awards including Best Composition Award and Audience Choice Award for his adaptation of so together, a poem written by former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera for the 2020 Fresno State Art Song Composition Competition as well as the 2020 Volterra Project Composers Award for his guitar trio Suite Homenajes.
Christian has a Bachelor of Music from California State University Northridge and a Master of Music from Southern California's Thornton School of Music both in classical guitar performance. He also holds a Master of Arts in Music Composition from Fresno State where he studied with Dr. Kenneth Froelich and Dr. Benjamin Boone.
Ryan Roubison - since 2021
Ryan Roubison (he/his) is a classical guitarist based in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been an active musician in the Phoenix valley for over a decade, specializing in a range of musical styles from classical, to folk, and contemporary art music. He spends much of his time teaching, performing, composing, and arranging. As a multi-instrumentalist, he specializes in teaching guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, and the Irish flute/pennywhistle. Ryan is currently an instructor at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library, where he teaches guitar and a variety of folk instruments. While working as a teaching assistant at Arizona State University, Ryan taught undergraduate level courses in classical guitar. As a passionate music educator, Ryan believes that the impact of the teacher reaches far beyond technical instruction. During the summer months, Ryan is the music director for the Irish Arts Summer Camp at the Irish Cultural center of Phoenix, and also runs a guitar and ukulele program for children at Keybox Studios in Gilbert, Arizona.
In February 2020, Ryan Roubison was elected by the Friends of St. Patrick Centre, to serve as Arizona’s Young Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland. In the summer of 2022, he will take part in a residency at the St. Patrick Cathedral in Dublin, and will work closely with the Irish Parliament on various projects aimed at fostering positive relations between the U.S.A, Ireland, and the UK. As a representative of Arizona in Ireland, his goal is to promote recognition of the arts in the lives of all people, across all borders. During his travels in Ireland, Ryan will give a series of concerts around the country performing the music from his album ‘Songs from the Willow Glen’ -a collection of Celtic folk music that he’s arranged for the solo guitar.
Ryan holds a Master’s of Music in Guitar performance from Arizona State University.
Fabrício Lock Sotomayor - since 2021
Fabrício received his Master of Music from Northwestern University and his Bachelor in classical guitar performance in the National Conservatory of Peru. Originally from Peru, he enjoys performing and teaching. He has taken master classes from internationally known guitarists such as Eduardo Fernandez, Oscar Ghiglia, and Judicael Perroy.
Fabrício has over 10 years of experience teaching all levels using a variety of methods and is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. He has taught master classes and performed around Peru and the US. He is currently living in Chicago were he teaches in a private and group setting.
Keith Barnhart - since 2021
Keith Barnhart (he/his) grew up in rural Montana. He began teaching himself rock guitar at age 13, and by his junior year of high-school was driving several towns over for a classical guitar lesson. He currently lives in Westminster, Colorado where he is an active performer and teacher.
One of Keith’s passions is performing on early plucked instruments including the lute, Baroque guitar and theorbo. He can be heard playing in multiple groups across the front range including the Boulder Bach Festival and UNC’s Ursa Consort. He has had the pleasure of playing basso continuo for opera productions with the University of Colorado, the San Francisco Conservatory, The American Bach Soloists Academy, the Amherst Early Music Academy and the University of Northern Colorado. He also regularly collaborates with local early music performers offering concerts and educational demonstrations.
Believing in music's healing potential, Keith works as a Certified Music Practitioner. He is certified through the Music for Healing and Transition program and plays customized live therapeutic music at the bedside to create a healing environment for patients in hospitals, hospice and nurse care facilities in the area.
As an educator, Keith teaches at several local studios and has sought out opportunities to share music with those who may otherwise not have access. As an instructor with Rocky Ridge Music Academy and Augustana Arts, he has offered ukulele classes to senior residents as well as ukulele and guitar to grade school children. He also teaches annually at Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp.
Keith received his Bachelors in Classical Guitar Performance in 2006 from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. While there he studied with Ricardo Iznaola, and Jonathan Leathwood. He received his Masters of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory in 2015 with an emphasis in Historical Performance, studying under Richard Savino and Marc Teicholz. Keith graduated in 2018 from the University of Colorado with a Doctorate of Musical Arts. While at CU he studied 10-string guitar with Nicolò Spera and studied the music of Albert Harris.