The JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition and its co-presenters, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Buffalo Toronto Public Media, announced Sharon Isbin will receive the competition’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hailed as “the pre-eminent guitarist of our time,” multiple Grammy Award winner Isbin will receive the award on Saturday, June 6, at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, at the finals of the 2020 competition.
“We are delighted that Sharon Isbin will be receiving the 2020 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition Lifetime Achievement Award. Sharon is a tireless advocate of the classical guitar at its highest level and has been a giant catalyst in the expansion of the guitar concerto repertoire. Brava, Sharon!” said artistic co-directors Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio.
Isbin is the second recipient of this award, following previous winner Liona Boyd in 2018.
Isbin was named the 2020 Musical America Worldwide Instrumentalist of the Year, the first guitarist ever to receive the honor in its 59-year award history. She is the winner of Guitar Player magazine’s Best Classical Guitarist award, Germany’s Echo Klassik, Concert Artists Guild’s Virtuoso Award, and Toronto and Madrid Queen Sofia competitions, and was the first guitarist ever to win the Munich ARD Competition.
Isbin has been the soloist with over 200 orchestras. Recent highlights include a commission for her by Carnegie Hall for their 125th anniversary, a 21-city “Guitar Passions” tour with jazz greats Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo, sold-out concerts at the Kennedy Center, Kimmel Center, and her most recent Carnegie Hall appearances included collaborations with Sting and in recital with Isabel Leonard. She has served as artistic director and soloist of festivals she created for Carnegie Hall and the Ordway Music Theatre (St. Paul), New York’s 92Y, and the national radio series "Guitarjam."
Isbin’s catalogue of over 30 albums, from Baroque, Spanish/Latin and 20th Century to crossover and jazz-fusion have sold nearly a million copies and reflect her versatility. Her two latest releases in May of world-premiere recordings of music composed for her are “Affinity,” featuring Chris Brubeck’s acclaimed concerto for guitar and orchestra, and “Strings for Peace,” with India’s legendary Amjad Ali Khan in a program of ragas for guitar, sarod and tabla.
Her August 2019 release with the Pacifica Quartet, “Souvenirs of Spain & Italy,” debuted at No. 1 on Amazon and No. 2 on Billboard, while her Grammy-winning “Journey to the New World” with guests Joan Baez and Mark O’Connor spent 63 consecutive weeks on top Billboard charts. Her “Dreams of a World” earned her a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist, making Isbin the first classical guitarist to receive a Grammy in 28 years. Her recording of concerti composed for her by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun was also honored with a Grammy. Her Rodrigo Aranjuez with the New York Philharmonic, their only recording with guitar, received a Latin Grammy nomination.
The acclaimed one-hour documentary, “Sharon Isbin: Troubadour,” has been viewed by millions on over 200 PBS stations across the U.S. and abroad, and was a recipient of the ASCAP Television Broadcast Award. Isbin has been a frequent guest on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “A Prairie Home Companion,” and has been featured on television throughout the world.
Isbin has been acclaimed for expanding the guitar repertoire with some of the finest new works of this time, and has premiered over 80 works written for her by world-renowned composers, including over a dozen concerti for guitar and orchestra. Her “American Landscapes” features works written for her by John Corigliano, Joseph Schwantner and Lukas Foss, and is the first-ever recording of American guitar concerti. Numerous other composers have written for her, including Joan Tower, David Diamond, Aaron Jay Kernis, Leo Brouwer, Howard Shore, Ned Rorem, Ami Maayani and Steve Vai.
Isbin began her guitar studies at age 9 in Italy, and later studied with Andrès Segovia, Oscar Ghiglia, and, for 10 years, with noted Bach scholar and keyboardist Rosalyn Tureck with whom she collaborated on landmark editions/recordings of the Bach lute suites for guitar. She authored the “Classical Guitar Answer Book,” and is director of guitar departments at the Aspen Music Festival and The Juilliard School, which she created in 1989. For more information about Isbin, click here.
Named in honor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director, the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition has been produced by Buffalo Toronto Public Media and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra since 2004. A biennial event, the competition encourages talented young classical guitarists and helps them on their musical journeys.
Eight guitarists will perform in a live radio broadcast on WNED Classical in two semifinal events at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, at WNED PBS studios at Buffalo Toronto Public Media, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo. Three candidates will be selected form the semifinal round to perform in a public performance with the BPO during the final round at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Kleinhans Music Hall. For more information about the competition or to purchase tickets to the events, click here.