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Sharon Isbin Hopes That Her Two New Albums Will Bring Healing, Peace, and Unity

J. Henry Fair

Multiple Grammy award-winning classical guitarist, Sharon Isbin, has just released two new albums: Affinity, which features world premiere recordings of music by several composers, including Chris Brubeck, Tan Dun and Richard Danielpour, and Strings for Peace, which combines western classical guitar with north Indian classical music. 

Sharon is no stranger to collaborations with musicians spanning practically every genre: from rock musician, Sting, to opera star, Isabelle Leonard; South American percussionist, Thiago de Mello, to the New York Philharmonic. Collaborating and creating something new and interesting feels natural, says Isbin.

Sharon began playing the guitar at the age of nine. Her father, a professor at the University of Minnesota, had taken the family to Italy on a one-year sabbatical. Her older brother signed-up to take some guitar lessons from Aldo Minella, a student of Segovia. but when he found out that the lessons would be classical, he said "no way" and Sharon volunteered to take his spot. The rest is history. She would go on to make her debut at the age of fourteen, performing a Vivaldi concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra, and then, in her career that so far has spanned five decades, perform with 200 more orchestra, win three Grammy awards, record thirty albums, and commission more than eighty pieces for guitar, including more concerti than any other guitarist.

Ms. Isbin talked with Morning Concert host, Melony Dodson, about these two new albums, about the process of commissioning new works from composers, and about her lifelong passion for collaborating with all kinds of different musicians. 


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Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.