*2017 Festival Headliner
Born in the coastal city of Qingdao, in the province of Shandong, China, in 1988, Meng Su demonstrated her artistic gifts as an exceptionally talented guitarist from an early age.
Embarking on an exciting guitar career as one of the most outstanding guitarists of her generation, Meng Su began her training in classical guitar with renowned Professor Chen Zhi at the age of nine, where she quickly began attracting attention as a remarkable young talent. Before graduating from the High School of the Central Conservatory of Music of China in 2006, Ms. Su had already won many awards, including the 5th Vienna Youth Guitar Competition, the 48th Tokyo International Guitar Competition, the Christopher Parkening Young Guitarist Competition, and the 2nd Iserlohn International Guitar Competition in Germany. As a performing artist, she has performed solo, duo, and quartet concerts across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Austria, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Finland, Croatia, Korea, Japan, and China, in which she has impressed audiences with an ability and artistry that exceeds her years. Ms. Su performs regularly in chamber music settings and with orchestras as a soloist; this past season she performed the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo and Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre for a chamber music ensemble.
Meng Su obtained her Performer’s Certificate and the Graduate Performer’s Diploma from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, and is currently continuing her studies with guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco in the chamber music program. Ms. Su’s discography includes a live CD and DVD release of a 2005 guitar concert in Korea as well as a release of Four Angels.
Born in Qingdao, China, in 1981, Yameng Wang fell in love with the classical guitar at a young age and began studying with the leading guitar professor in China, Professor Chen Zhi, when she was 10 years old. She became the youngest winner of the Tokyo International Guitar Competition at the age of 12. She went on to win second prize in the “Michele Pittaluga” International Guitar Competition in Italy at the age of 13, and at the age of 14 she was invited by Radio France to perform at the Paris International Guitar Art Week and won second prize in La Infanta Doña Cristina International Guitar Competition in Spain. Classical Guitar magazine noted that at the age of 14, she already played like a seasoned professional.
After graduating from the Central Conservatory of Music of China in 2006, Ms. Wang enrolled in the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. There, she finished her Masters of Music degree in 2008 and is currently in the Graduate Performance Diploma program, studying with Maestro Manuel Barrueco. Ms. Wang has given acclaimed recitals across the US, France, Italy, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Finland, Croatia, Britain, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia both as a soloist and in chamber music setting.
Her first album, Caprice was recorded when she was 16 years old. A Very Special Album was released in 1999, and in 2003 she contributed to GHA’s album, The Best of Classical Guitar. In 2005 she released Classic Guitar – Aquarelle, Un Sueño en la Floresta.
Since the age of 18, Jason Behr has been an active teacher and performer in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. He has been a faculty member of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music since 2009. He earned his Masters Degree in classical guitar at UW-Milwaukee, studying with Professor Rene Izquierdo. In addition to teaching, Jason is a member of the Milwaukee Guitar Quartet and maintains an active performance schedule around Milwaukee and abroad. In 2008, Jason was asked by composer Carlos Rivera to record Cancion, his acclaimed solo work for classical guitar. In 2009, composer and guitarist Štepán Rak requested Jason to perform the American premiere of his new work titled Royal Suite. Jason was a recipient of the “Dr. Shinichi Suzuki” scholar award in 2010 & 2011.
A native of Minsk, Belarus, Ella began studying guitar at the age of 13 with Valeriy Gromov. She graduated from Minsk Music College in 1994 and the Belarus Academy of Music in 1999 under Eugene Gridiushko with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Orchestral Conducting, and Guitar Pedagogy. In the year 2000, Ella entered Yale University where she received the Louis and Anne Rosoff Award and graduated with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance with professor Ben Verdery. Combining active performance and teaching careers, Ella has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and abroad. Some of this year's appearances include Chamber Music Milwaukee Series, Brussels Royal Museum of Musical Instrument in Belgium, Tucson Classical Guitar Society, and Mannes College Guitar Festival in New York. In her teaching, Ella believes in the individualized approach to every student with tailored instruction based on student needs. Mrs. Chekan has extensive knowledge of guitar pedagogy and repertoire, and has experienced first hand different guitar schools of thought. Ella is also a certified Suzuki instructor registered with the Suzuki Association of Americas. All this experience allows her to find unique approaches and repertoire for each of her students, giving them a solid foundation in technique and musicianship at an early stage. Along with conducting, Ella has arranged a wide variety of music for solo and chamber music. Since 2005, Ella is on the faculty at Usdan Center for the Performing Art in Long Island, New York. In addition to teaching and performing at Usdan, she conducts the guitar orchestra with up to 60 performers. In her quest for present-day student repertoire, Ella commissioned composer Jorge Morel to write a series of student repertoire solo and ensemble pieces that is published by Mel Bay. With the belief that young players are our future, Ella works with musicians and composers to encourage them to write appealing and musically interesting pieces for the young generation of guitarists. Renowned Argentinean Composer Jorge Morel dedicated to Ms. Chekan his composition "Campañas" published by Mell Bay in The Magnificent Guitar of Jorge Morel. Ella Chekan performs on a John Price guitar and uses Savarez strings.
René Izquierdo graduated from the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Art in Havana, where he studied with renowned guitarist Jesus Ortega. After his arrival in the United States, he graduated from Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. At Yale, he earned a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma degree and was awarded the Eliot Fisk Prize to an outstanding guitarist. He has studied with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Eli Kastner, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, David Starobin, Eduardo Fernandez, Jorge Morel, Robert Beaser, and Anthony Newman. Mr. Izquierdo is currently recording his debut CD with Luthier Music Corporation.
Izquierdo has been awarded several competition prizes and most recently was a finalist in the JoAnne Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition. He has appeared as a guest soloist and in chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Canada, Cuba, Spain, France, and Italy. In 2004 he performed the Villa-Lobos concerto with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and played the U.S. premiere of The Divan of Moses Ibn-Ezra by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, a 19-song cycle, with soprano Arianne Slack in a Merkin Archive concert.
Brian Torosian is an active soloist and chamber musician on guitar, lute, and mandolin, best known for his work with 19th century guitarist and composer J. K. Mertz. In addition to the standard six-string guitar, he plays baroque guitar, Terz guitar, and 10-string guitar replicas, the latter two made for him by R. E. Bruné after 19th century Viennese instruments. Concert performances include appearances with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony, Chicago Opera Theater, His Majesties Clerkes, and Classical Symphony Orchestra. Torosian directs the guitar program of Northeastern Illinois University and is on the faculty of Wheaton College Conservatory. He received bachelor, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University as a student of Anne Waller, and studied with Oscar Ghiglia in Italy at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, where he received the Diploma of Merit. Brian's published editions include Mertz's Opern-Revue, Mertz's trio for violin/flute, viola, and guitar "Divertissement, Op. 32" (DGA Editions), an anthology of operatic concert works titled Selected Operatic Fantasies of Mertz (Mel Bay), as well as new editions of Mertz's selected works published by Chanterelle Verlag, Heidelberg. His recordings include a track on the harp guitar compilation Christmas Present and a collection of Mertz’s guitar and piano duos.
Anne Waller has performed as both a soloist and as a member of Waller and Maxwell Guitar Duo in concerts and festivals throughout the United States and Europe. She has also been heard on live broadcasts on radio and television, as well as in master classes with Andrés Segovia, Oscar Ghiglia, and José Tomás. Other activities include conducting master classes at universities and festivals throughout the United States. Waller has studied with Robert Guthrie and Oscar Ghiglia.
Nathan Wysock received Doctor of Musical Arts (with a major in guitar performance and a minor in early music) and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Illinois State University. His teachers include Douglass Rubio, Angelo Favis, and Nicholas Goluses. Dr. Wysock is an avid performer of both solo and ensemble repertoire and has performed in competitions in the United States and abroad. He has been a featured performer on Wisconsin Public Radio and has performed with the Lawrence Chamber Players, the Festival City Orchestra, the Edgewood Community Orchestra, the Lawrence Wind Ensemble, and L’Ensemble Portique. Recently, he performed in a production of Henze’s El Cimmaron with Skylight Music Theatre (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). In his solo recitals, Dr. Wysock creates innovative programs that range from ragtime to music of the Middle East. He has presented lecture recitals and workshops on tango, blues, and 19th century music.
Dr. Wysock is a dedicated teacher who has been on the faculty of several community programs, the secondary guitar program at the Eastman School of Music, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He is currently on the faculty at Lawrence University in Appleton and Edgewood College in Madison.
Mike Dawes’ acclaimed solo music has gained more than 15 million hits on popular video-sharing sites, and since the release of his debut album in 2013, he has toured almost every continent on the planet, with an average of 150 concerts per year.
His ability to create the most unusual tones and textures simultaneously from a single acoustic guitar is stunning. Bass, melody, harmony, and percussion are all seamlessly produced using his signature technical, yet intrinsically musical, guitar technique.
Not just for guitar fans, Mike’s entertaining and humorous rapport transcends the traditional guitar concert. Virtuosity meets Monty Python in a one-man rock show. His British humor and electric presence sprinkle an entertainment not uncommon in a comedy club. He does not take himself seriously, but the music is taken very seriously.
Mike has recorded with and taught multiple Grammy-winning artists, appeared on film and TV soundtracks, released apps, written for the world’s best-selling music magazines and, in addition to his solo work, currently performs alongside and in support of the legendary front man of The Moody Blues, Justin Hayward, the debut live DVD of which entered the US Billboard charts at #2.
Musicians including John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Gotye, Billy Sheehan, and James Valentine (Maroon 5) have all spoken of their admiration toward Mike’s work.
In June 2012, Mike released his first solo instrumental through the US label, Candyrat Records. His incredibly detailed arrangement of Gotye’s smash hit ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ took on a life of its own when it smashed through 1.5 million views in just one day online on YouTube. Since going viral, the video found itself on the front page of Reddit, CollegeHumor, and hundreds of popular blogging sites. MSN News featured Mike on the front of their US web browser, whilst Gotye himself praised the arrangement as his favorite cover of the song, even inviting Mike to session at his studio in South Australia.
The 34-year-old Montreal-based guitarist Antoine Dufour is known colloquially among the best guitar players in the world as a musician’s musician. To fans of popular music, he deftly combines jaw-dropping guitar playing skills and an artistic soul in crafting instrumental compositions that reflect ambient and progressive music that transcends global cultures and languages. That he does this in an incredibly visual and entertaining style has endeared him to a broad spectrum of fans of popular music.
Via his six albums of original material released to critical acclaim, two live performance DVDs, six years of global touring, and more than 50 million cumulative views on YouTube, Antoine Dufour has emerged as a young star of fingerstyle acoustic guitar, building a worldwide reputation for innovation and creativity. In 2014, he showcased his abilities with global tours including Canada, Germany, USA, China, UK, France Netherlands, and many others.
Antoine’s records of accomplishment include winning first place at the Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Championships, third place at the ultra-prestigious international guitar championships at Winfield, recording for the leading instrumental music record label Candyrat, plus touring and playing with luminary guitar players such as Andy McKee and Don Ross.
Starting as far back as the Seventies, Peter Finger has enjoyed an outstanding reputation internationally as an acoustic guitarist, and the music press has included him in the pantheon of the world's best guitarists. Anyone who has listened to just one of his 16 album productions to date will gladly agree with this assessment. Countless tours have taken the successful musician around the globe: celebrated performances in Europe, the USA, Japan, etc. mark just some of the musical milestones of this extraordinary artist.
Peter Finger has accomplished something that few people achieve in our day: the perfect harmony of virtuosity, musicality, and composition. His musical cosmos is boundless, showing profound knowledge of both music history and the contemporary state of the art. The attentive listener will therefore encounter the tonal language of Debussy, Ravel or Stravinsky time and again – and, in the same breath, perhaps find himself in the realm of rock. Or he will marvel at Finger's almost orchestral, sometimes breathtaking, experimental tapestry of rhythm, harmony and melody. It should definitely be mentioned that all of this fuses together organically instead of just standing side by side without any connection. Which is why Peter Finger's music is always a great sensual pleasure, far removed from any type of intellectual coolness – both demanding and stimulating at the same time.
That Peter Finger was able to "incidentally" win several first prizes in composition competitions and operate a studio with an excellent reputation is hardly surprising considering his diversified artistic biography. On the other hand, Peter Finger also deserves recognition as a committed publisher and label head: in addition to his activities as the publisher of the Akustik Gitarre magazine, he has also gathered a troop of highest quality musicians on his repeatedly distinguished label Acoustic Music Records (Kai Schwirzke).
As a pre-teen, after a short stint in the air band Van Zeplica, Kurt Plahna realized it was time to learn real guitar. A self-taught rocker from the start, he eventually entered the guitar consortium program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, earning a BFA with honors in 2000. Solo acoustic fingerstyle guitar became his favorite musical medium, though he continued to play, record, and experiment with various electric bands and groups around the Milwaukee area.
Kurt went on to work full-time for Hal Leonard Corporation as an instructional guitar publication editor in 2003, managing the creation and production of guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, drum, brass/woodwind, vocal, and keyboard products (not to mention sitar, oud, and bagpipes). He was also a contributing editor and columnist for Guitar Edge magazine from 2006 to 2010 and served as music director on a variety of instructional DVDs and web lessons for www.guitarinstructor.com.
Kurt currently resides in the Milwaukee area with his wife and two daughters and continues to write and record music in his home studio.
Billy McLaughlin is recognized internationally as a world-class guitarist, Emmy Award-winning composer, and inspirational keynote speaker who has appeared on Billboard’s Top-Ten Chart. Previously signed to Virgin Records’ Narada label, McLaughlin has 14 CD releases, three National Campus Entertainer of the Year Awards*, five Minnesota Music Awards, and his decades of national concert touring earned him the Hall of Fame Achievement Award*. But in 1999, McLaughlin vanished from sight as his career crumbled due to a little-known neuro-muscular disorder called Focal Dystonia. After suffering several years without a cure or even a diagnosis, this right-handed guitarist embarked on an unlikely attempt to regain his career by re-learning his instrument ... left-handed! His remarkable comeback is captured in the independent documentary film Changing Keys (seen on PBS stations in 2010) and a concert film called Coming Back Alive featuring McLaughlin with string orchestra and a reunion of his longtime rock band. KPBS (San Diego) produced the 2013 Emmy Award-winning live concert program called Starry Night – Billy McLaughlin with Orchestra Nova highlighting McLaughlin’s extraordinary talent as both guitarist and inspirational speaker. Now serving as Ambassador for Awareness for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, McLaughlin is the winner of the 2010 Public Leadership in Neurology Award** whose previous winners include Paul Allen, Julie Andrews, Leon Fleischer, and Michael J. Fox. McLaughlin has resumed an international schedule of concert appearances and keynote speaking. He resides in his home state of Minnesota where he is proudly raising two boys.
*National Association for Campus Activities/NACA
**American Academy of Neurology/AAN
John Stropes is a leading authority on fingerstyle guitar. Through the historical research, analysis, transcription, teaching, and performance of fingerstyle guitar, he has brought focus to this style as a significant American music. His publishing company, Stropes Editions, Ltd., has set a new standard for written music for the guitar and guitar education. Stropes was president of the Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society, 1985-1996, and artistic director of the American Finger-Style Guitar Festivals, 1985, 1987, and 1989, which were funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He performed and taught at the First Chinese Guitar Artistic Festival in the People's Republic of China in 1986 and returned to China in 1988 and 1990 to perform and teach with a performance at Beijing's Symphony Hall broadcast on Chinese television. He was advisor to the Beijing Guitar Research Association; chair of the Guitar Department, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1984-1994; and author of Michael Hedges: Rhythm, Sonority, Silence, Leo Kottke: Eight Songs, 20th Century Masters of Finger-Style Guitar and John Fahey's Christmas Songs for Guitar. Stropes is the author of numerous transcriptions of contemporary works for fingerstyle guitar and related instructional materials and a frequent contributor to guitar publications.
Rob Poland is the founder of Candyrat Records, an independent record label and music boutique. Candyrat was founded in 2004 after signing their first artist, Don Ross, a well-respected Canadian guitar player and composer. Five other artists—including Andy Mckee and Antoine Dufour—were signed before Candyrat officially opened for business in November of 2005.
While instrumental guitar music is their core focus, Candyrat has released records in a number of different genres including electronic, singer-songwriter, alternative, and progressive rock. They currently represent more than 30 artists from ten different countries.
Macyn Taylor is an accomplished guitar player and singer. She is 22 years old and has recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Masters in Music Performance degree. Macyn’s guitar playing has been heard around the world through YouTube, with her YouTube site having nearly two million views. She has competed in many guitar competitions and has won many, including in 2013, the Wilson Center International Guitar Competition. Macyn was recently given an award for “Most Promising New Talent” by Acoustic Guitar Magazine. She was also named the 2013 WAMI Folk/Celtic performer of the year.
Kevin Eubanks, guitarist and prolific composer. He is well known by many as the former Music Director of The Tonight Show Band, appearing on the show 18 years (1992 - 2010). His laid-back style and affability seems to belie the concentration and focus that have made him successful both as a consummate musician and a household name for late-night TV viewers.
Kevin was born into a musical household in Philadelphia, PA, and was thus exposed to world-class music in his formative years as he began violin lessons, his first instrument, at age seven. Kevin also studied the trumpet before making his commitment to the guitar, which was solidified with his entrance to the world renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston from which he has received an ‘Honorary Doctorate’ degree. He has also received an ‘Honorary Doctorate’ degree from Redlands University in California.
Kevin moved to New York after attending Berklee College of Music where his career kicked off in earnest. He started playing with some of the greats of Jazz, including Art Blakey, Slide Hampton, McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Ron Carter, and others. In addition to working in other bands, Kevin become the leader of his own group and traveled to Jordan, Pakistan, India, and Kuwait on tours sponsored by the US State Department, not to mention the European/Japanese Jazz circuit which so many artists frequent.
His first album as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Kevin was 25. It documented a sophisticated, nuanced voice on the instrument, and was graced by the presence of some peers who are still performing with him today: tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore, (Tonight Show Band member) and his brother Robin. Kevin’s cousins, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks, also appeared on the recording, which was so well received that it lead to a seven-record recording contract with the GRP label, owned by Dave Grusin and the late Larry Rosen. Those recordings, based largely upon Kevin’s compositions, gained him a wide audience through extensive radio airplay and touring. It showed the range of his skill on both acoustic and electric guitar. Kevin became a full-time bandleader, and traveled the world with his group.
In 1992, Kevin moved to the West Coast to join The Tonight Show Band. In 1995, Kevin was asked the lead the band. His versatility and open-minded approach enabled him to write and choose music that satisfied the huge and varied audience for the show. He assumed the role as Leno’s sidekick, sometimes participating in skits, and his engaging personality, as well as his musicianship, drew attention. The position afforded Kevin the opportunity to work with great and popular musicians from all genres. Kevin became involved in writing scores for both TV movies and full-length independent feature films. He has appeared on various TV shows/channels, from Hollywood Squares to V.I.P to Girlfriends, Days of Our Lives, Royal Pains, HGTV, Oprah’s OWN, The History Channel, to name a few. But his passion is clearly seen when he is on stage performing as he continues to embrace his true passion, the love of music.
A strong advocate for music education, Kevin served as the Artistic Director of the Jazz In The Classroom Program for The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz from 2010 - 2012, where he worked with young up-and-coming middle and high school musicians in the Los Angeles public schools. He also hosted the 2013 NEA Foundation Gala. He has taught at the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, Rutgers University, and at the Charlie Parker School in Perugia, Italy, as well as hosting master classes at many colleges and universities.
In November, 2010, Kevin released the CD Zen Food (Mack Avenue Records) that debuted in the Top Five on the Billboard Jazz Chart and was Kevin’s fastest-selling record ever. In February 2013, his CD The Messenger (Mack Avenue Records) was released, garnering a 2014 NAACP Image Award nomination for “Outstanding Jazz Album.” That same year, he toured extensively as a member of Dave Holland’s PRISM. In March 2015, the acclaimed Duets (Mack Avenue Records), with fellow guitarist Stanley Jordan, was released to rave reviews and concert performances. His next project, the highly anticipated upcoming CD East West Time Line is set for release on April 7, 2017 (Mack Avenue Records).
In addition to club/concert touring Kevin has begun presenting at conferences around the country not only as a musician, but also as a motivational speaker to people of all ages.
Mike DeRose hails from the Midwest city of Racine, WI. Born and raised there he was drawn toward the guitar at an early age. Mike taught guitar for 20 years at a local music store, until recently when he decided to devote all of his time to recording and performing. Mike has played in numerous locales from New York to California. And he can recently be found performing for Hal Leonard instructional series. His many years of travel and playing have all contributed to his wide variety of styles and techniques. Mike prides himself on being able to play just about any genre of music that a recording artist may require, with his favorites being: Jazz/Fusion, R & B and Rock ‘n Roll.
Jack Grassel is a jazz artist known for his adventurous concerts, books, inventions, CDs, compositions, and extraordinary musical abilities which include perfect pitch.
Jack's music career began early at age three, when his father started him on music lessons. By age four, he was performing professionally with the Bar O Ranch, a traveling variety show, and on television and radio. He enjoyed years of personal tutelage by mentors Jimmy Wyble, George Van Eps, Tal Farlow, and Joe Daley, which fathered his unique style resulting in more than 13,000 performances. Among his favorites are duets with Luciano Pavarotti, recordings with Tal Farlow and Melvin Rhyne, and concerts with Rosemary Clooney and other name artists too numerous to mention.
In a nationwide poll, Guitar One Magazine readers voted him One of the 10 Best Guitarists in America. This winner of seven WAMI awards as Guitarist Of The Year was also voted Best Jazz Artist twice by the Milwaukee Shepherd newspaper. Guitarists the world over have studied his 10 books, instructional DVD and 19 recordings, which feature his 70 compositions. Jack Grassel's Big Ax book trilogy is the groundbreaking system for playing melody, chords, and bass simultaneously on a standard guitar. Jack's instructional columns have enlightened readers of Guitar Player and Just Jazz Guitar magazines, while his students from the past 40 years are a legion of the world's finest musicians. Currently, Jack tours Mexico each winter and teaches students around the world via Skype.
Steve Lewandowski has more than 40 years of professional experience in the music business as a guitarist. His playing is characterized by widely diverse styles such as post-bop, funk-edged jazz, and blues. He has arranged, composed, and conducted in a variety of popular and jazz bands, and played guitar as a theater musician and soloist, on the radio and television, and in recordings. Steve has performed with a variety of international and local artists—The Milwaukee Symphony, The Racine Symphony, Gary Burton, Ashley Alexander, Alan Vache, Charlie Braughm, Russ Phillips, Bobby Lewis, Manty Ellis, Berkley Fudge, Fifth Dimension, Chuck Hedges, OPUS, Bel Canto Chorus—and with touring Broadway shows such as Sweet Charity, Chicago, Lion King, Spamalot, Legally Blonde, and others.
Steve has a rich history of club performances, shows, concerts, and clinics. As a member of OPUS, he participated in the Vibrations Unlimited Series concerts with the Milwaukee Symphony; performed at numerous Summerfest, Lakefront Festival of the Arts, and other music festivals; and backed artists such as Buddy Rich, Pat Metheny, Yellow Jackets, and Dizzy Gillespie. His original compositions from the EP First Light received airplay on public radio stations internationally. Steve was awarded Best Guitarist, 2006, and nominated Best Guitarist, 2007, by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI). More recently, he has recorded a solo CD, Familiar Melodies, which has received international radio attention, and has taken over leadership of Chuck Hedges’ Milwaukee Connection. In the summer of 2013, Steve premiered “Trinity” for jazz band and orchestra with the Racine Symphony Orchestra.
A professional musician for more than 30 years, Don Linke is both a performer and educator. Linke has appeared in the pit at the Melody Top Theatre, Skylight Opera, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Florentine Opera, and the Riverside Theatre. He has appeared as an opening act for Freddy Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, and Richard Elliot; and on stage with jazz luminaries Greg Abate, Frank Morgan, Melvin Rhyne, Richie Cole, and Brian Torfe. He has 10 recordings, including four critically acclaimed solo releases. He is the recipient of grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the United Performing Arts Fund. Linke began teaching at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in 1978 and has taught master classes and workshops throughout the country. His students are professional musicians around the world.
As a professional musician for the past 30 years and a broadcast editor for 12 years, Tanner-Monagle principal Bob Monagle brings a unique perspective to video editing. He combines unparalleled technical capabilities with a sensitivity to how the music, audio, and photography come together to create arresting and effective visual communications.
His national work on radio and television projects includes advertising spots, television shows, industrial, educational and corporate videos, and interactive DVDs for clients such as Tenet Healthcare, Walgreens, Hal Leonard, Subway, Simplicity, and Sun Country Airlines.
His background in music and music composition, as well as video and audio production, make him uniquely qualified to integrate the audio and visual elements necessary for achieving great work. He also directs and produces, and can assemble top-notch television and video production crews to see any project through from concept to completion.
Paul Silbergliet is on faculty at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and is a member of the Conservatory’s We Six jazz sextet. An accomplished jazz composer as well as performer, Paul has played clubs, concert halls, and festivals throughout the area as both a leader and a sideman. He has appeared with Jack McDuff, Jon Faddis, Richie Cole, Tierney Sutton, Melvin Rhyne, Brian Lynch, David Hazeltine, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, among others. Both his 1996 debut CD Silberglicity and his 2003 release My New Attitude have made it onto the jazz charts with nationwide airplay. He can also be heard on the 2005 We Six recording Bird Say. Paul teaches at Cardinal Stritch University and is a featured instructor in Hal Leonard's Guitar Licks Goldmine DVD series. He received his BA from Oberlin College.
Guitarist Roger Brotherhood has been a professional musician since 1966. He attended the University of Wisconsin for two years as a journalism major, and graduated with honors from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree. He has taught professionally for more than 25 years and has extensive experience recording, playing in clubs and shows, leading his own jazz groups, conducting workshops and clinics, and playing solo. He has appeared as guitarist with Diahann Carroll, the Drifters, Rita Moreno, Bobby Rydell, Vic Damone, Al Martino, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Mickey Rooney, Donald O'Connor, Rich Little, John Gary, Tommy Tune, and many others. He has also played for theater productions such as A Chorus Line, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jaques Brel Is Alive And Well ... , Cabaret, and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Roger has played often with the Milwaukee Symphony, the Madison Symphony, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, with whom he was featured at the world premiere of the Symphony Of Two Worlds. He was Artist in Residence at Verona High School for two years, and he has conducted successful improvisation workshops in association with the Isthmus Jazz Festival and at area high schools. He has taught privately since 1980, working with beginners as well as advanced players. His students have gone on to excel in jazz programs at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, North Texas State University, William Paterson College (with Rufus Reid), the University of Oregon, and other colleges. Early experience in blues bands (opening for the likes of B.B. King, Albert King, Bobby Bland, Junior Wells, Major Lance, and Freddie King), playing gospel music with the Gospel Belles and the New Zion Baptist Choir, and laying down R&B with The Charmers, of Boston, led to his love of jazz music. This culminated in Roger's four years of study at the Wisconsin Conservatory, where he studied with Tony King, guitarists Manty Ellis and Jack Grassel, saxophonist Hattush Alexander, and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Danish. He also studied privately with guitarist Roy Plumb, a former student of the great George Van Eps. Since then, his jazz groups have been featured at the Isthmus Jazz Festival, the Art Fair On The Square, and live radio broadcasts from WORT. His duo with pianist Jane Reynolds appeared at the Ovens of Brittany in Shorewood for two consecutive years, and they were featured playing their original material on the locally produced TV series On The Town. Roger's quartet was a monthly tradition at The City Bar in downtown Madison for six years running. Roger performed for many years with Madison trumpeter Doc DeHaven while living in Madison. Currently living in the Milwaukee area, he performs regularly with vocalist Adekola Adedapo, saxophone master Berkeley Fudge, drummer Ben Hans, and many other local jazz musicians, in addition to freelancing in the Milwaukee/Madison area and leading his own duos, trios, and quartets. He also maintains a busy schedule teaching at The Guitar Studio, both in Madison and Milwaukee.
Peter Mac is the guitarist for Uprising, as well as Peter Mac & The Fighting Fish, The Brian Dale Group, and Streetlife. Beginning his musical education at age three, the breadth of Peter's styling comes from years of formal training and a long list of great and diverse influences—artists ranging from The Beatles, Sting, Pat Metheny, and George Benson.
It was Jimi Hendrix, however, who provided the initial inspiration that shifted Peter's dedication from his studies in classical and jazz piano to the guitar at the age of 14. He attended Wisconsin Conservatory of Music until 1981, when he took his talents on the road. In addition to performing more than 200 gigs a year and teaching more than 62 students per week, Peter is in high demand as a studio musician. He has recorded literally hundreds of commercials, as well as television and radio spots. As a recording artist, Peter has self-produced 10 solo CD albums, each demonstrating outstanding compositional skills with a knack for strong melody.
His diversity has allowed Peter to open for a wide variety of acts, such as Kenny Loggins, Dave Koz, Tower of Power, the late Danny Gatton, Grover Washington, the late Jeff Healey, Eddie Money, Kansas, Doc Severinsen, Tim Wiesburg, Jeff Lorber, The O'Jays, Al Jarreau, and most recently, King's X, Adrian Belew, Robin Trower, Peter Frampton, Blue Oyster Cult, Hall & Oates, INXS, and David Sanborn.
Steve Roberts, a veteran of the Chicago rock, jazz, and experimental music scene, has recorded and performed with a myriad of local and touring artists. His work as co-founder/songwriter/electric guitarist for the bands Loud Thoughts and the post-punk/art rock D-Section has somehow led (most unnaturally) to orchestral, new music, musical theater, and chamber music. Recent performances on guitar, banjo, and mandolin include: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Godfather live soundtrack; Melissa Etheridge in concert; Stewart Copeland and his Ben Hur soundtrack live; Otello with Riccardo Muti and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall and recording); Steven Spielberg's Lincoln soundtrack; Fulcrum Point New Music Ensemble; Chicago Chamber Musicians; Contempo; The Rembrandt Chamber Players; The Pirate Queen (Broadway); Book of Mormon; Present Music in Milwaukee; Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago; and The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. Some favorite performances include the US premier of "Elevator Music on Mars" by Tomi Raisanen; Chicago and New York premiers of Jacob TV's multimedia opera The News; "Gnarly Buttons" by John Adams with the Chicago Chamber Musicians featuring Larry Combs on clarinet; working with Sting and Rob Mathes on the pre-Broadway production of Sting's The Last Ship; using his Masters degree in music composition to write songs for his wife, Julie, to sing to their Great Dane Lester.
Peter Roller, a music professor at Alverno College, is the author of Milwaukee Garage Bands: Generations of Grassroots Rock, which documents amateur bands from the ’50s through the ’90s. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Roller started out playing electric guitar in garage bands. He later went deep down the rabbit hole of American roots music—studying folk, bluegrass, country blues, and American fingerstyle guitar—and played open stages at classic Greenwich Village folk clubs the Gaslight and Folk City during their final years of operation.
While working on his Master's degree in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Roller was chosen as main guitar accompanist for one of the last of the pre-war southern bluesmen: Yank Rachell. Roller and Rachell played in clubs and folk festivals through the 1980s and made the album Blues Mandolin Man (Blind Pig Records), which was nominated for a Grammy in the Traditional Blues category.
Having written guitar instrumentals since his first surf-rock garage band, Roller’s 2011 album, Blue Fog, features an original take on styles ranging from Hawaiian slack key and ragtime blues to bossa nova and steel guitar jazz. Prior to this CD release, Roller’s lap slide instrumental “Rancho Mirage” was included on the best-selling Masters of Acoustic Guitar (Narada Records). While teaching at Alverno College in Milwaukee over the past 25 years, Roller has continued to perform and record with local musicians like Steve Cohen, Robin Pluer, Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans, the Masonic Wonders, and Little Rev.
Matthew Schroeder is a Milwaukee-based WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) winning guitarist who is equally at home on electric or acoustic guitar. Matt is one of a handful of players to graduate, with honors, from the short-lived cooperative program between The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a performance degree in American Finger-Style guitar.
Matt is one of Milwaukee’s prominent guitar educators and serves as Chair of the guitar department at The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where he has taught since 1992. Matt is also the Artistic Director for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music's annual Guitar Weekend Workshop and Interlochen College of Creative Arts' Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop.
Matt is featured on recordings such as Pet Engine's 1994 release Hearts and Bones and Voices, the compilation CD American Finger-Style Guitar circa 1999, and his debut solo acoustic fingerstyle CD, Signal, which was released in 2006.
Matt can be seen performing as a soloist, in a duo with vocalist Lynda Lee, with the all-star band Slumpbuster featuring KB from 96.5 WKLH-Milwaukee, and as the smoking, guitar-wielding "Space Ace" with the KISS tribute band Dr. Love.
John Shiely is the retired chairman and chief executive of Briggs & Stratton Corporation. In 1997, he was approached by an employee from the shop floor with the idea of founding a corporate rock band to perform at corporate and charity events. The result was the Briggs Bluesbusters band. John is a guitarist in the band.
In 2001, the band competed in the inaugural Fortune Magazine “Corporate Battle of the Bands” at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where the band finished runner-up. Over the years, John and the band have been the opening act at the Summerfest musical festival for: the Beach Boys, James Brown, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Elvis Costello, the Moody Blues, Leann Rimes, Alice Cooper, and Journey, among others. The band has also opened at power equipment events in Louisville, Kentucky for Paul Revere and the Raiders, Three Dog Night and .38 Special. The Briggs Bluesbusters was also the featured band at Al’s Run and Walk for many years. John has performed at several gigs with the original Crickets (Buddy Holly’s band).
John serves as a member of the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Michael Standal has more than 30 years of experience as a professional guitarist, composer, producer, publisher, and educator. Michael studied jazz with pianist David Hazeltine at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and has taught privately and at a multitude of workshops including at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.
As a multi-faceted guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, he has shared the studio and stage with a wide variety of artists, including Oceans (the house band of the Milwaukee Bucks), Melvin Rhyne, David Hazeltine, Brian Lynch, Dan Trudell, The B3 Bombers featuring Clyde Stubblefield, Doug Lawrence, Jeff Hamilton, Buddy Miles (Jimi Hendrix), and many more. As a studio musician, Michael has been featured on dozens of commercials, educational materials, and albums including his own The Mike Standal Quintet – Equilibrium, Oceans’ Pro-Jazz release Ridin’ the Tide, and The B-3 Bombers - Live at the Green Mill.
Michael is a veteran composer and producer. He’s composed, arranged, produced, and played on pieces for domestic and international television, radio, music production libraries, and major film releases. His compositions have been placed in more than 1,000 TV shows, feature films, and major label releases worldwide. As a producer he’s collaborated with many extremely gifted artists, including Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown), Matt Sorum (Guns And Roses, Velvet Revolver), Robben Ford, Joe Bonamassa, Paul Barerre, Roscoe Beck, Brannen Temple, Jon Cleary, Victor De Lorenzo (Violent Femmes), Greg Koch, Matt Walker (Filter, Smashing Pumpkins), Wesley "Sticks" McVicker (Eric Benet, Angie Stone), and John Ferraro (Boz Skaggs, Larry Carlton).
Michael is a co-founder and CEO of MidCoast Music, which is represented worldwide by Warner/Chappell Production Music. When not composing and producing with his business partner, Chris Hanson, he can be found riding his bicycle, cooking, or studying languages.
Troy Stetina is an internationally renowned guitarist, leading authority in guitar instruction, and clinician. He has authored more than 40 rock and metal guitar methods for Hal Leonard Corp., which have been translated into numerous languages and have sold more than one million copies worldwide.
Troy is endorsed by PRS guitars, Engl Amps, Vader Cabinets, and Modtone pedals. He is also the guitarist for the hard rock band Second Soul, runs Artist Underground recording studio in Milwaukee, and is co-owner of the online music retailer Music44.com as well as Lampifier Microphones.
Perhaps the best known of Troy’s works is the classic book/CD guitar method, Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar, often referred to as the “shredders’ Bible.” Published in 1990, it was the first major work in electric guitar pedagogy to standardize an effective approach to achieving the highest levels of guitar technique. Other popular Stetina works include Metal Lead Guitar Volumes 1 and 2, Metal Rhythm Guitar Volumes 1 and 2, Total Rock Guitar, and the complete ear training and theory manual, Fretboard Mastery, published in 2007.
His latest instructional work is Troy Stetina: The Sound and the Story released in 2011 and featuring more than three and a half hours of interviews, technique lessons, and composition lessons teaching six Second Soul songs. The DVD also features special invitation guest lessons by Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge/Creed), Michael Angelo Batio, Bill Peck (Exit the Ride), and Eric Friedman (Creed).
Fueled with a BFA in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Paul has been imparting his musical know-how since 1992 at The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Brass Bell Music, Family Music, Milwaukee Public Schools, University School, Hillel Academy, and Be Sound Studio. He has recorded and performed nationally and internationally, touring extensively through North America, Europe, and Asia. Recently serving as Optimist Theater's Music Director, you can hear Paul tearing up the stage with his respective bands: BEATALLICA, THEN LIZZY, MJØD, CHIEF, and the Underwood Baptist Praise Band covering the diverse genres of Metal, Rock, Hot Jazz, Blues, Folk, Worship, and solo Classical guitar.