Georgia Guitar Quartet
The Georgia Guitar Quartet (GGQ) has emerged as an exciting new voice in today’s chamber music scene. These four young men from the American South deliver a high-energy blend of breathtaking virtuosity and imaginative programming while taking an adventurous approach to classical music. Borrowing from both the past and present, the GGQ consistently draw inspiration from the ever-evolving palette of music that has influenced them: classical masters such as Bach and Brahms, experimentalists in the vein of Cage, Bartók and Stockhausen, and contemporary rock icons like Radiohead and Led Zeppelin. Audiences at a GGQ concert experience an exciting musical journey through an expansive array of genres, continents, and time periods. Rousing Irish folk music and late Impressionistic masterpieces share the stage, while the sublime beauty of Chopin rubs shoulders with ground-breaking contemporary works. Accomplished composers themselves, the Quartet frequently incorporates their own unique works into their increasingly dynamic concert program. The incredible range and interactive spontaneity of a performance by the GGQ continually leaves audiences with something to remember, resulting in a thrilling new way to experience chamber music in the 21st century.
Hailing from Athens, Georgia the Quartet recently marked its 10th anniversary season with two sold-out performances in New York, a performance at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, and an appearance at the Deer Valley Music Festival in Park City, Utah where they performed Rodrigo’s “Concerto Andaluz” with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble maintains an active national concert schedule, performing in a variety of venues that range from concert halls to popular music clubs. They have released three recordings and are currently completing work on a fourth album comprising all-original works by the group’s members. In addition to receiving praise for its members’ original compositions and inventive transcriptions of pre-existing works, the Georgia Guitar Quartet has also been recognized for its novel interpretation of guitar quartet staples. On several occasions they have collaborated with modern dance groups and visual artists to produce multi-media performances. In 2001, the Quartet was invited by Christopher Parkening to perform as guest artists at his twenty-seventh annual masterclass in Bozeman, Montana. A review of their Piccolo Spoleto Festival performance in Charleston, South Carolina, described the concert as “a dazzling display of technical prowess, versatile programming, and audience rapport.” The town of Athens, which boasts a rich musical heritage, has honored the ensemble by awarding them “Best Classical Artist” in Athens five years in a row at the Athens Flagpole Music Awards.
Kyle Dawkins began playing the guitar around age 11. Initially a steel string acoustic guitarist, Kyle decided to study the classical guitar after meeting the head of guitar studies, John Sutherland, at the University of Georgia, where he eventually received his degree in guitar performance. Kyle has been a prizewinner in several competitions sponsored by the Georgia Music Teacher’s Association, the Music Teacher’s National Association and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In addition to performing with the Quartet, Kyle also records as a solo artist and composer. He has released two albums of his original compositions on Solponticello Records. His critically acclaimed debut album Conasauga, an album of Appalachian music infused with classical guitar and banjo compositions, has been featured on both National Public Radio and college radio. Conasauga was also selected as one of the top 10 releases of 2003 by the Athens Banner Herald. Kyle has contributed several original arrangements and compositions to the Quartet’s repertoire, many of which blend elements of traditional southern music, late twentieth century minimalist and classical music. In addition to performing with the Quartet, Kyle teaches guitar at Gainesville State College.
Brian Smith began his musical studies at an early age. Brian focused his efforts on guitar through college where he received his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia. In addition to the classical guitar, Brian also studied and excelled in percussion, double bass, electric bass, electric guitar and piano. After receiving his degree, Brian continued to perform and compete as a solo classical guitarist and won several awards including the National Federation of Music Clubs competition in 1999, Georgia Music Teachers’ Association Concerto Competition at state level, as well as earning Awards of Excellence in the Georgia Music Teachers’ Association Spring Auditions during 1996-1998. He also does session work for recording studios in Atlanta and Athens, playing bass, drums and guitar. Brian continues to pursue a variety of musical endeavors including several recording projects which span a range of musical styles including classical, art music, folk, jazz, rock, hip-hop and techno. His arrangements and compositions are a staple part of Quartet performances and have been met with acclaim by critics and fans alike.
Phil Snyder earned his degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in guitar performance from the University of Georgia. He has won several awards, including the state level of MTNA’s Concerto Competition, South Carolina’s National Federation of Music Clubs Competition and the University of Georgia’s annual Concerto Competition. As a participant in the Christopher Parkening Master Class from the years 1996-2000, Philip was chosen by his peers to represent the class in the final recital for three consecutive years. Philip is also an active arranger for the Quartet. His arrangements include music of J.S. Bach, Brahms, Vivaldi, Chopin, Edvard Grieg, Darius Milhaud, Alberto Ginastera and Paul Simon. Phil also contributes to the versatility of the Quartet’s music through his talents on cello. As a cellist he has performed under the direction of Lewis Nielson with the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Chamber Ensemble at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. He has also held the position of first chair in the University’s Chamber Orchestra which toured northern Italy in 1997, performing works by Mozart and Schubert. Philip teaches at Berry College and LaGrange College.
Jason Solomon began playing guitar at the age of nine. He received a master’s degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Georgia, where he studied with renowned instructor John Sutherland. He is currently completing a Ph.D in music theory. In addition to performing with the Quartet, Jason is an active solo artist. He has won several competitions, including the state level of MTNA in 2000. In 2001, he won the concerto competition at UGA and performed Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” with the UGA Symphony Orchestra. For three summers in a row (1997-1999), Jason participated in the Christopher Parkening master class held annually in Bozeman, Montana. Each year, Jason was one of five performers elected by his peers to represent the entire class in the final public recital. Also an active composer, Jason writes for a variety of instruments, including the electronic medium. He has composed six works for four guitars, all of which have become mainstays of the GGQ’s repertoire. Jason’s research interests include spatialization, transformational analysis, music perception and cognition, metaphor, and aesthetics. He has presented papers at several conferences, including Music Theory Southeast (2006), The Harvard Graduate Forum (2005), and the UGA Music Research Symposium (2005, 2006). An article of his will be published in an upcoming issue of Guitar Review. Jason teaches guitar at Emmanuel College and maintains a private teaching studio.