(L-R) Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad, composer Clarice Assad and guitarist Odair Assad (photo courtesy of University of Chicago Presents).
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
This spring, the University of Chicago Presents will host one of classical music’s most musical families at Mandel Hall: legendary Brazilian guitar duo Sérgio and Odair Assad and composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Clarice Assad.
Widely hailed as “classical music’s premier guitar duo” (KQED), the Assad brothers pay homage to their roots in their program, entitled Memories from Rio. In addition to combining classical and traditional canons, the program includes original compositions by Sérgio and his daughter Clarice, an alumna of Roosevelt University and the University of Michigan’s composition programs.
The April 17th concert will be preceded by a lecture at 2 p.m. with Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities Lawrence Zbikowski.
The Assad brothers’ exceptional uncanny ensemble playing come from both a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and from studies with the guitar/lutenist Monina Távora (1921-2011), a disciple of Andrés Segovia. In addition to setting new performance standards, the Assads have played a major role in creating and introducing new music for two guitars. Their virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them, including Astor Piazzolla, Radamés Gnattali, Roland Dyens and Jorge Morel.
Today Sérgio Assad is adding to their repertoire by composing music for the duo and for various musical partners, both with symphony orchestra and in recitals. They have worked extensively with acclaimed luminary artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Gidon Kremer.
The Assads began playing the guitar together at an early age and went on to study for seven years with Dona Monina. Their international career began with a major prize at the 1979 Young Artists Competition in Bratislava. Odair is based in Brussels, where he teaches at Ecole Supérieure des Arts. Sérgio resides in San Francisco, where he is on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Their standard classical repertoire includes transcriptions of the great Baroque keyboard literature of Bach, Rameau and Scarlatti and adaptations of works by such diverse figures as Gershwin, Ginastera and Debussy. Their touring programs are always a compelling blend of styles, periods and cultures.
Brazilian-American Clarice Assad is a Grammy-nominated composer, pianist, and vocalist of musical depth and ability. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a serious triple threat," Assad is equally comfortable as a performer and bandleader. Carefully-crafted textures permeate her musical world, which embraces a wide variety of styles, including her own original concepts.
Now in its 72nd year, The University of Chicago Presents offers 26 unique performances in seven distinct series in the 2015/16 season, from early music to classical, contemporary, and jazz, all comprised of the world's most prestigious artists.
The concert will take place 3 p.m., April 17, 2016. For tickets or more information, visit chicagopresents.uchicago.edu.