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.
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. Visit Kurt’s music page at www.soundcloud.com/gratton.
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.
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.
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.
Neil Davis is an emerging talent. He started playing jazz in Milwaukee in 2002. Also in that same year, he began teaching private lessons to aspiring guitarists at all levels.
As time went on, he reached a peak of 72 students per week. The grueling schedule led him to yearn for an environment where he could focus his methods on students who were interested in jazz.
Davis is an instructor in the Jazz Studies Program at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. He is sought after as a sideman and also leads his own quartet. He is also half of the Davis\Peplin Duo.
As well as playing jazz, Davis uses his talent in the world of Modern Dance. He is has been an accompanist for the UWM Dance Department since 2005.
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.
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.
Peter Roller, PhD UW-Madison in Ethnomusicology, is a working guitar player who previously was Professor of Music & Chair of the Music Dept at Alverno College. Peter wrote his Master's Thesis at Indiana University about the Country Blues mandolin performance of 1st generation bluesman Yank Rachell; he accompanied him throughout the 1980s and played on his Grammy-nominated album Blues Mandolin Man (Blind Pig Records). In the Milwaukee area, Peter has played and recorded with Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans, Robin Pluer, bluesman Steve Cohen, gospel quartet The Masonic Wonders, and others. His original solo guitar music CD, Blue Fog, streams widely.
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.
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.