January 2024 Meeting: Ben Verdery

Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 7:00 PM

Online only event

    On Zoom; click here to join

I Always Wanted to Play Leonard Bernstein, and Now I Can

Ben Verdery discusses his arrangement of the Bernstein Sonata for Clarinet and Piano for guitar and string quartet

The presentation will be followed by our Open Mic. Sign up in advance to play — see the Member Events page for details. NYCCGS Member Events are free and open to all members and first-time guests.

Hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career, Ben Verdery tours regularly throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, performing at venues and festivals including Ottawa ChamberFest, 92Y Kaufmann Auditorium, Verona Guitar Festival, Guitar Festival of Belgrade, International Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Taxco (Mexico), Theatre Carré (Amsterdam), the International Guitar Festival in Havana, Wigmore Hall (London), and Metropolitan Opera in New York.

As a recording artist, Ben has released more than 17 albums and has recorded or performed with such diverse artists as Andy Summers, Frederic Hand, William Coulter, Leo Kottke, Anthony Newman, Jessye Norman, Paco Peña, Hermann Prey, John Williams, hip-hop artist Billy Dean Thomas, beat box/vocal percussionist Marc Martin, and Nano Stern.

A prolific composer, many of Ben’s works have been performed, recorded, and published (Doberman-Yppan, Alfred Music) over the years. He has composed works for the Assad Duo; guitarists David Russell, Scott Tennant, David Tanenbaum, John Williams and John Etheridge; the Changsha International Guitar Festival; the Chilean Guitar Ensemble; the Pensacola Guitar Orchestra (FL); Kyo-Shin-An Arts (NY); Wake Forest University; and Thomas Offermann and the guitar ensemble of the Hochschule for Music and Theatre (Rostock, Germany). He composed the score for the documentary film Corida Goyesque. Ben’s Scenes from Ellis Island, for guitar orchestra, has been extensively broadcast and performed at festivals and universities in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Europe, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet included it on their CD Air and Ground (Sony Classical).

By turn, many of the leading composers of our time have created music for Ben, including Ezra Laderman, Daniel Asia, Martin Bresnick, Bryce Dessner, Javier Farias, Aaron Kernis, John Anthony Lennon, David Leisner, Hannah Lash, Ingram Marshall, Anthony Newman, Roberto Sierra, Van Stiefel, Christopher Theofanidis, and Jack Vees.

Ben has created and released several exquisitely filmed videos, most recently his collection Peace, Love & Guitars, a series of 16 videos presented in February and April 2021 through the New York City Classical Guitar Society. The videos feature solo works as well as collaborations with longtime colleagues. Other videos include: From Aristotle with Mark Martin and Michiyaya Dance; Bryce Dessner’s Portbou; Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze; Seymour Bernstein’s Searching for a Chorale; his Shangri La Series, filmed at Doris Duke’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in Honolulu; and four videos with hip?hop artist Billy Dean Thomas, including the ground breaking Black Bach.

Ben owes much to his guitar teachers Philip De Fremery and Frederic Hand, both of whom he studied with at SUNY Purchase. The master classes he took in Arles, France with Leo Brouwer were seminal for Ben as well. He continued his studies with his mentor Anthony Newman and still receives coaching from his other mentor, Seymour Bernstein. He will always feel greatly indebted to what these and many others have given him over the many years.

Since 1985 Ben has been guitar professor at the Yale School of Music. He served as Artistic Director of 92Y’s Art of the Guitar series from 2007 to 2020. He has produced his annual Maui Guitar Master Class since 1998. Ben is an Honorary Board Member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Photo by John Olson