As one of the world’s great cultural centers, New York City has long attracted top concert artists on every instrument. Since 1936 there has been a New York classical guitar society, initially inspired by the compelling performances of Miguel Llobet and Andrés Segovia in the city’s halls.
Today the New York City Classical Guitar Society celebrates the remarkable range of music that has emerged from the instrument’s central tradition and its melding with other genres and styles. We draw on our resources — an Advisory Board of world-class artists, New York’s wonderful guitar community, and the cooperation of performers from around the world — to provide both our membership and the guitar-loving public with an exceptional experience.
To provide a framework for the shared enjoyment and exploration of the classical guitar in New York City, and to promote awareness and appreciation of its heritage and influence across musical genres.
There have been at least three major classical guitar societies in New York City, prior to the formation of the current New York City Classical Guitar Society.
The first was most notable for having legendary composer and educator Vladimir Bobri as its President, with artistic direction from Andrés Segovia. This first society enjoyed large popularity from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Vladimir Bobri, born in 1898, formed the New York Society of the Classic Guitar in 1936. The first issue of Guitar Review was published by the Society in 1946. Andrés Segovia played a very active part in the Society, acting as Chairman of the Advisory Committee and being the author of many interesting articles. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Augustine, Mr. and Mrs. Gregory d’Alessio, and Mr. and Mrs. George Giusti were vital in their roles in the Society. In 1983, Guitar Review was sold to Albert Augustine, Ltd. In 1985, Mr. Bobri stepped down as Editor of the Review. Tragically, Mr. Bobri died in a house fire in 1986. Almost everything was lost.
In 1978, a second classical guitar society was formed in Brooklyn with the intention of bringing classical guitar performances to a wider audience. The focus was in presenting approximately four major concerts per year, including Sharon Isbin, Dante Rosati, Jorge Morel, and the Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo. This society grew to be very large throughout the 1980s, and garnered strong corporate sponsorship. Unfortunately, the society ceased holding performances in 1991.
In 1988, a third classical guitar society was formed in Manhattan at the sole leadership of Seth Himmelhoch. This group met monthly in large spaces throughout Manhattan, including the 92nd St. Y. With a mailing list of over 300, and a large member base, the Society grew considerably. However, it ceased to exist in 1994.
The current New York City Classical Guitar Society was formed in 2000 by Lester Long, and became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2004. The Society was led in its first years by Presidents Lester Long, J. Andrew Dickenson, and Michael Barry. John Olson has served as President since 2007.
Artistic Advisory Board
Board of Directors
John Olson, President
Anthony Bez, Secretary
Roberta Wallis, Treasurer
Lester Long, Founder; President, 2000-2004
J. Andrew Dickenson, President, 2004-2006
Michael Barry, President, 2006-2007
Jason Sagebiel, Director, New York City Guitar Orchestra
Annabel Chiarelli, Membership and Marketing Coordinator
Website design: Musician Designs
Banner photos, left to right: John Olson, Alicia Markey, Bruce Parker