Brooklyn Guitar Quartet

The Brooklyn Guitar Quartet is an ensemble of four experienced classical guitarists, who have dedicated themselves to exploring contemporary, classical and popular repertoire. Recent recital programs have included transcriptions of piano music by Felix Mendelssohn and contemporary works of Leo Brouwer, as well as popular Brazilian rhythms by Paulo Bellinati. The quartet's aim is to communicate with its audience by choosing repertoire that is at once accessible while remaining substantive works of sounding art.

The Brooklyn Guitar Quartet began life originally as the Brooklyn College Guitar Quartet, a subset of the larger Brooklyn College Guitar Ensemble. The original idea was to form a quartet of guitarists from the Brooklyn College Guitar Program that would premiere works by the composers from the college. The original quartet has given the first performance of more than twenty-five new works.

No longer affiliated with the college, the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet has now established itself with four resident players, each bringing his own unique experience to the ensemble.

 

Lars Frandsen was a student of the late Leif Christensen, a preeminent pioneer in the rediscovery of the nineteenth century guitar literature and a strong advocate of its historical performance practice. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Yale University, and the Eastman School of Music, Lars Frandsen holds a doctoral degree in performance and literature. He was the assistant to the renowned lute player Paul O'Dette while at Eastman, where he also studied in master classes and doctoral seminars with equally renowned forte-pianist Malcolm Bilson. In addition, Lars has performed several times in master classes conducted by John Williams, David Russell and Manuel Barruecco. Lars was the first guitarist to play and coach chamber music (during five consecutive concert seasons) at the Apple Hill Summer School, where he taught and performed with members of the London Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras. Lars has performed in a variety of venues such as Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, Walt Whitman Hall in Brooklyn, Dukes Hall in London, and he has recorded world music for CBS records in India. 

Lars directs the classical guitar program at Brooklyn College at the City University of New York, where he has taught for nearly twenty years. He also directs the theory and ear training program at the Manhattan Campus of Nyack College. He is an associate professor at both colleges.

Lars founded Brooklyn Guitar Quartet with Jesse Miller.

 

Jesse Miller is one of two founding members of the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet. Since 2000 he has been teaching guitar at James Madison High School, a large, comprehensive NYC public school that has one of the few multi-level guitar programs in the city. He teaches about 140 students in five classes that meet daily.

Jesse’s formal musical life began with piano lessons at age seven, and trombone in school. He was inspired to take up guitar at age fifteen when he first heard Bob Dylan (live) while at summer camp in the Berkshires. Later influences include The Beatles, Doc Watson and James Taylor. His first close encounter with classical guitar came from a fellow teacher at Manitou-Wabing Camp of Fine Arts. Inspired yet again, he took up classical a few years later, studying with Ken Brown in Palo Alto, CA, and Lars Frandsen at Brooklyn College.

Jesse graduated from Bay Shore High School. He received his BA from Harvard with a major in Social Relations, and his MA from Brooklyn College in Music Education.

Jesse enjoys playing a wide variety of musical styles. In addition to BGQ, he plays lead electric guitar in Axiom Addicts, an all-originals rock band, and steel-string acoustic in the duo Whiskey and Weed with his daughter Mollie. He also likes gardening.      

 

John Olson pursues an eclectic life in music, science, and arts administration. As a guitarist, he performs in several ensembles, including the Olson/De Cari Duo, the Contemporanea Guitar Duo, and the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet. He has served as section leader and soloist with the New York City Guitar Orchestra. Committed to the generation of new music, John has commissioned over twenty new works. He has studied guitar with David Leisner, Jon Harris and Neil Anderson, and organ and baroque performance practice with organists Rick Erickson and Rodney Gehrke. He has performed in guitar masterclasses with Ben Verdery, William Kanengiser, Raphaella Smits, and others. He released a CD, Quiet Songs, with the Olson/De Cari Duo that contains baroque and twentieth-century music for solo guitar and guitar and voice.

Since 2007, John has served as President of the New York City Classical Guitar Society. John has revitalized the organization and made it a thriving and central part of the city’s guitar community. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Guitar Foundation of America, the largest organization in the United States devoted to the classical guitar. He has organized a series of Guitar Society Summits for leaders of similar organizations, and has led panel discussions on arts administration and career management at the GFA Convention and the Yale Guitar Extravaganza.

Also a respected scientist, John received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has performed research for over twenty years in academic and industrial settings. He is dedicated to bridging the worlds of science and music through his Science/Music Commissioning Project, which seeks to expand the repertoire for guitar and voice and explore connections between science and music through song.

 

Matthew Rosenthal began playing guitar at a young age, tutored by his sister Jackie. During high school, he attended Mannes Prep and quickly progressed with the help of his teacher, Francisco Roldan. He now studies with Lars Frandsen at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College, where he is working on a bachelor's degree in Classical Guitar Performance. Matthew plans to pursue a master's degree in Performance as well. He has participated in master classes with artists such as Jorge Caballero, Jason Vieaux and Zaira Meneses. He recently placed third in the 2016 Eastern Music Festival Guitar Competition. With a large repertoire, Matthew has performed in recital halls, churches and dinner parties around the New York area and enjoys playing at local senior centers and for children, recognizing how music brings contentment and joy to people of all ages.

 

 Photo by Dan Henry Boehler

Photo by Dan Henry Boehler