Acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility, GRAMMY Award winner Sharon Isbin has been hailed as "the pre-eminent guitarist of our time." She is also the winner of Guitar Player magazine's "Best Classical Guitarist" award, the Madrid Queen Sofia and Toronto Competitions, and was the first guitarist ever to win the Munich Competition. She has given sold-out performances throughout the world in the greatest halls including New York's Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall, Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, Toronto's Ford Centre, London's Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Munich's Herkulessaal, and Madrid's Teatro Real, among many others. She has served as Artistic Director/Soloist of festivals she created for Carnegie Hall and the Ordway Music Theatre (St. Paul), her own series at New York's 92nd Street Y, and the acclaimed national radio series Guitarjam. She is a frequent guest on nationally-broadcast radio programs including All Things Considered, St. Paul Sunday, and Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. She has been profiled on the nationally-televised CBS Sunday Morning program and A&E Network television, and in periodicals from People to Elle, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, as well as featured on the cover of more than 30 magazines.
Ms. Isbin's catalogue of over 20 recordings -- from Baroque, Spanish/Latin and 20th Century to crossover and jazz-fusion -- reflects remarkable versatility. The recordings have received many awards, including "Critic's Choice Recording of the Year" in both Gramophone and CD Review, "Recording of the Month" in Stereo Review, and "Album of the Year" in Guitar Player. An exclusive Warner Classics artist, her Dreams of a World: Folk-inspired Music for Guitar soared onto top classical Billboard charts, edging out The 3 Tenors, and earned her a 2001 GRAMMY Award for "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance" making her the first classical guitarist to receive a GRAMMY in 28 years. Her latest Warner Classics release, Sharon Isbin Plays Baroque Favorites for Guitar, features concerti by Bach, Vivaldi and Albinoni, including four world premieres, and debuted on the Billboard Top 10 Classical Chart for over 15 weeks. Her world premiere recording of concerti written for her by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun (composer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) debuted as #6 on the Billboard charts and received a 2002 GRAMMY Award for the concerto by Rouse, and earned her a third GRAMMY nomination ("Best Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra"), as well as Germany's prestigious Echo Klassik Award for "Best Concert Recording." Her Journey to the Amazon with Brazilian percussionist Thiago de Mello and saxophonist Paul Winter, a Billboard best-seller in the U.S. and the U.K., received a 1999 GRAMMY nomination for "Best Classical Crossover Album." Other recent CDs include Greatest Hits (EMI/Virgin Classics), Wayfaring Stranger (Erato) with mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, and Aaron Jay Kernis' Double Concerto (Argo/Decca) with violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) which received a 2000 GRAMMY nomination. Her eight best-selling titles for EMI/Virgin Classics include J.S. Bach Complete Lute Suites and Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez which Joaquin Rodrigo praised as "magnificent." She is also featured on the GRAMMY Foundation's new Smart Symphonies™ CD distributed to over five million families.
Sharon Isbin has been acclaimed for expanding the guitar repertoire with some of the finest new works of the century. She has commissioned and premiered more concerti than any other guitarist, as well as numerous solo and chamber works. Her American Landscapes (EMI/Virgin Classics) with the SPCO conducted by Hugh Wolff is the first-ever recording of American guitar concerti and features works written for her by John Corigliano, Joseph Schwantner, and Lukas Foss. (In November 1995, it was launched in the space shuttle Atlantis and presented to Russian cosmonauts during a rendezvous with Mir.) She has also recorded the Schwantner with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony. In January 2000, she premiered the ninth concerto written for her: Concert de Gaudí by Christopher Rouse with Christoph Eschenbach and the NDR Symphony, followed by performances with Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony, and David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival. Among the many other composers who have written for her are Joan Tower, David Diamond, Ned Rorem, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Leo Brouwer.
Ms. Isbin performs 60-100 concerts a season, and her 2003-04 highlights include recitals in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., New Haven, Troy, Ithaca, Santa Cruz, Aspen, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Hawaii, and Italy, as well as performances with the Baltimore, New Hampshire, Canton, Florida, Nashville, and Gulbenkian (Lisbon, Portugal) orchestras, and a tour with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Isbin performed at Ground Zero for the reading of the names memorial and internationally televised broadcast on September 11, 2002, joining Yo Yo Ma, Gil Shaham and the Juilliard String Quartet.
Ms. Isbin has toured Europe annually since she was seventeen, and has also toured Canada, Japan and the Far East, New Zealand, South America, Mexico and Israel appearing in recital and as soloist with such orchestras as the London Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Scottish Chamber, Zurich Chamber and Lausanne Chamber Orchestras, BBC Scottish, Jerusalem, and Tokyo Symphonies. Festival appearances include Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Ravinia, Interlochen, Santa Fe, Mexico City, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Montreux, Strasbourg, Paris, Athens, Istanbul and Budapest International Festivals.
In the United States, Ms. Isbin has appeared as soloist with over 100 orchestras including the National Symphony, Baltimore, Houston, Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis, New Jersey, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Utah, and Honolulu Symphonies, the Rochester, Brooklyn, and Buffalo Philharmonics, as well as the St. Paul, New York, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras.
As a chamber musician, Ms. Isbin has performed with Nigel Kennedy, Denyce Graves, Benita Valente, Susanne Mentzer, the Emerson String Quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and on the New York Philharmonic series, among others. She performed a "Guitar Summit" tour with jazz greats Herb Ellis, Stanley Jordan, and the late Michael Hedges; she made trio recordings with Larry Coryell and Laurindo Almeida, and duo recordings with Carlos Barbosa-Lima. She has also collaborated with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Steve Vai, and shared the stage with luminaries from Aretha Franklin to Muhammad Ali.
Sharon Isbin began her guitar studies at age nine in Italy, and later studied with Andrès Segovia and Oscar Ghiglia. A former student of Rosalyn Tureck, Ms. Isbin collaborated with the noted keyboardist in preparing the first performance editions of the Bach lute suites for guitar (published by G. Schirmer). She received a B.A. from Yale University and a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music. She is the author of the Classical Guitar Answer Book, and is Director of the guitar departments at the Aspen Music Festival and the Juilliard School (which she created in l989 becoming the first and only guitar instructor in the institution's 100-year history.
In her spare time, Ms. Isbin enjoys trekking in the jungles of Latin America, motorcycling through Greek islands, cross-country skiing, snorkeling and backpacking.