Sheu Pettit Duo

Friday, November 17, 2017, at 7:30 PM

Diller-Quaile School of Music, 24 East 95th Street, New York City

Acclaimed soloists Connie Sheu and Adam Pettit join forces to explore inventive reaches of the guitar duo repertoire

“Their combined mastery of the guitar and profound musicality make the Sheu Pettit Duo a dynamic musical force which needs to be heard.” — Scott Tennant, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet


IDA PRESTI Danse Avila, Etude No. 1
RONALD PEARL A Clear, Quiet Night; Fast
CLARICE ASSAD Brasilerinhas
ANDREW YORK Virtu, DissFunkShun
LEO BROUWER Sonata de Los Viajeros

We asked Connie and Adam a few questions about the concert:

How do you choose your repertoire?

Adam: I guess we choose our repertoire in a couple different ways. Connie and I both have very similar taste in style and seem to continually return to a goal of focusing exclusively on new music of the 21st century. However, we feel a special connection with a few pieces from the mid-20th century Ida Presti era which always have a place on our programs.

Connie: It’s always an honor to premiere new works, and I also love digging up pieces of all periods that have rarely been played. I think the guitar deserves expansion of its repertoire. It is exciting to be able to feel like we’re advocating for something bigger than ourselves when we perform a really good piece that we want more audiences to hear.

Do you have a favorite piece on this program?

Adam: My favorite would have to be the Brouwer Sonata. There aren’t too many original works composed for guitar duo of this size and depth and I find it very interesting to hear how Brouwer’s compositional voice has developed into the 21st century. The piece is full of classic Brouwer motives and sonorities in addition to completely new textures and ideas for the listener to enjoy.

Connie: Believe it or not, my favorite is the Brouwer Sonata as well. This piece is literally a journey, and to me it feels like a culmination of Brouwer’s various periods and styles all in one piece. It has the emotional depth and complexity of a solo sonata, but with the added challenge and benefit of playing as an ensemble. 

What do you particularly like about playing in duo?

Adam: I have always enjoyed the collaborative aspect of any type of chamber ensemble. I feel there is something special about the duo, though, because each individual is granted more responsibility and control in the interpretive process. I also like to be able to pass off my mistakes as Connie’s.

Connie: Very funny! I think we both love creating a bigger sound than we can make playing solo. There is something powerful and perfect about two guitars — it gives the ability to use more range on the instrument, and while you get increased volume, you can still create quiet, intimate sound and lots of different timbres. And the other person can respond immediately to any spontaneous changes to the interpretation, so performances stay fresh and alive.

Guitarists Connie Sheu and Adam Pettit have engaged audiences across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe as soloists and chamber musicians. As the Sheu Pettit Duo, they perform music representing the most inventive compositional talent for guitar duo. Adam and Connie first met as students in the Pepe Romero master classes held at the University of Southern California in 2003. Both are committed to cultivating the growth of classical guitar in Southern California through concertizing, recording, and teaching. They are on faculty at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.

Dr. Connie Sheu is a dynamic guitarist, devoted teacher, and ardent advocate of classical guitar. In demand as both a soloist and chamber musician, her playing has been hailed by the New York Sun as “excellent, ruminative… scholarly.” According to Classical Guitar Magazine, “Her debut recording displays, without a doubt, her talents as a concert artist.”

Past performances have brought her to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, 92nd St Y, Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall; venues in Moldova, Italy, Hungary; and across the United States. She is a frequent performer on various concert series and music festivals, and has most recently appeared at the Women in Guitar Festival, New York Guitar Festival, and Guitar Foundation of America International Convention.

Connie studied U.S. History and Music at Columbia University, and earned a Master of Music from the Juilliard School. She completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Southern California under William Kanengiser. She also studied under scholarship at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana with Oscar Ghiglia in Siena, Italy. Connie serves as General Manager for the Guitar Foundation of America and teaches at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music and Moreno Valley College.

Dr. Adam Pettit‘s performances have been characterized by the Los Angeles Times as “meditative,” and “brilliantly colored, articulated and focused.” He has played at a number of established venues including the American Guitar Society, KPFK’s Global Village, LACMA’s Sundays Live, and the Los Angeles Bach Festival.

Adam is an experienced chamber musician, most notably with the award-winning Helios Guitar Quartet, with whom he performed at the 2011 Guitar Foundation of America Convention in Columbus, GA. In 2013, the Helios Quartet released their recording of the complete Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 by J.S. Bach. In addition to his solo appearances, Adam collaborates with a number of ensembles in Southern California. Past appearances include the Santa Barbara Master Chorale, the South Coast Symphony, and the Orange County Guitar Orchestra.

Adam earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in the studio of Julian Gray. He then continued his studies as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Southern California, where he earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree under the tutelage of William Kanengiser and James Smith. He serves on the guitar faculty at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music and Orange Coast College.