1. Faculty

Sérgio Assad

Guitar

“…the best two-guitar team in existence, maybe even in history… no amount of anticipation could have prepared me for the Brazilian brothers’ daringly flexible, eerily unanimous ensemble playing – it was as if they could see inside each other’s heads.”

-The Washington Post

COURSES TAUGHT

  • Private Lessons

EDUCATION

  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Arizona, Tucson, 2010

ENSEMBLES

  • The Assad Brothers

AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS

  • Latin Grammy, Best Tango Album, 2002
  • Latin Grammy, Best Composition, 2008
  • Artistic Achievement Award, Guitar Foundation of America

What is your hometown?

Chicago, IL

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Nature, cooking, and good wine.

Who were your major teachers?

Monina Tavora (guitar) and Esther Scliar (music analysis).

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

It looks like the main concern of students nowadays is whether they will manage to have a career. They are all full of dreams and want to play concerts. They must realize that the concert scene is not for everyone. When they understand this sooner it helps them to develop their goals as musicians once they can visualize other things like teaching, playing in ensembles, or even working in other musical fields.

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

My personal case was different once I started to play classical guitar as a child and became, with my brother, very known as music prodigies in my country, Brazil. We never considered doing something else besides music.

What was a turning point in your career?

We had a couple of strong ones. The first was back in 1983 when we met Astor Piazzolla who enjoyed our playing so much that he spontaneously wrote a piece for our guitar duo. That piece helped us to get many things after we recorded it back in 1984. We got our first record deal with Nonesuch Records in the US because of that piece. The other turning point was in the ‘90s when we started getting invited to play with very known artists like Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Paquito D’Rivera.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

Perhaps I would be a medical doctor in Brazil.

What is your daily practice routine?

It is unpredictable once there are so many unrelated things to music that are part of our days after a certain age. It used to be very regular in the past with around 5 to 6 hours of playing every day.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

I'm very involved with the Brazilian music evolution so I would probably say a period that runs from 1890 to 1910 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

What are your most important collaborations?

Odair Assad, Yo-Yo Ma, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Jon Mendle, Matt Lyons, and Bradley Pupa.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Sergio and Odair Assad play Rameau, Scarlatti, (Nonesuch Records)
Jardim Abandonado (Nonesuch Records)
Obrigado Brazil, Yo-Yo Ma (Sony Records)
Music from the New World, Paquito D’Rivera) (GHA Records)