Gram Parsons Derry Down presents Guitar Solo, October 28, 2018. Join us for an intimate concert experience featuring 8 outstanding instrumental guitarists from Central Florida. The concert highlights a variety of solo guitar music including classical guitar, contemporary acoustic guitar, and solo jazz guitar. Each of the musicians featured are valuable members of the Central Florida Guitar Community working both as performers as well as music educators.
Marcus Brixa is a guitarist, composer, private guitar instructor, and guitar technician based in Winter Haven Florida. He has extensive experience in many different musical styles and performs often as a solo classical or acoustic jazz artist, as a member of a jazz trio or quartet, and is the founding member of the eclectic acoustic ensemble “Polkweed Muzique”. Marcus also works regularly with local community theaters both as a musician and occasionally as an actor and has performed in several productions at Theatre Winter Haven including “The Million Dollar Quartet” as Carl Perkins and “Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story” as a member of the Crickets. Marcus has also worked with Lakeland Community Theatre, and the FSC Pied Piper Players. He was a member of the O’55 Show Band under the direction of Roger Hewitt for 5 years, played as a member of the Lakeland Jazz Orchestra, and toured the country as a member of Rocket 88, a 7 piece R&B band based out of Orlando. Currently Marcus is working on a solo guitar recording which he hopes to release next year, and he plans to bring his band “Polkweed Muzique” into the recording studio soon. Marcus is equally comfortable with acoustic and electric guitar playing and feels blessed to have so many interesting and varied musical projects to work on. He holds a BME from Florida Southern College and has worked for Carlton Music Center in Winter Haven as a guitar instructor and luthier for 24 years.
Caitlin Caggiano is a classical guitarist who graduated in 2017 as the first female to earn a degree in Classical Guitar Performance from University of Central Florida. During her time at UCF, she has studied with Dr. Eladio Scharrón and has performed for and attended the masterclasses of Marcos Sartor and Pepe Romero. In 2017 she performed in Tampa as the opening artist before Pepe Romero as part of the Guitar Series at Hillsboro Community College. Caitlin has been performing and teaching in the Orlando area for several years. She has held the position of lead guitarist at mega church First Baptist Orlando since 2013 and she has performed in several countries throughout Europe in different bands.
John Cortese is a world class veteran jazz guitarist and has been an active performer for over 50 years. Originally from the New York area John performed regularly as a soloist or in a variety of small ensembles, big bands, and as a studio session musician. He has performed alongside players such as John Abercrombie, Nat Adderly, Buddy Bidwell, Bill Harris, Joe Moerello, and several others. John performed throughout the New York, Boston area until he relocated to Florida in 1994. He has served as a visiting artist at Valencia College and Florida Southern College and conducted jazz guitar clinics and workshops throughout Florida, New York and the New England areas. John has a very unique way of tuning his instrument and after becoming dissatisfied with conventional tunings created his own unique tuning of the guitar. The result helps John present music that flows with inventiveness and is relaxed, expressive and spontaneous.
Joe Gavin is a Lakeland based fingerstyle guitarist who's musical style is reminiscent of Phil Keaggy and the late Michael Hedges. Joe draws from his 39 years of playing experience to create music that is haunting, beautiful and improvisational. Joe's album of original guitar compositions, “Summit of Leaves”, attracted the attention of Grammy-Award winning Windham Hill Records producer and guitarist, Will Ackerman. Ackerman chose Joe's orignal composition, “Over the Downs”, to be included on “Woodsongs”, a compilation CD released on the New Land Music record label. Over the last two decades Joe has performed for many events and weddings, performed in art museums and libraries, played on numerous recordings, conducted demonstrations for schools, performed with ballet companies and toured with “The Jim Croce Tribute”. Joe is currently working on his new release, “Ancient Foundation”. Joe has spent the last 21 years working for Carlton Music. Joe currently manages their Lakeland location and enjoys teaching guitar on his day off.
Samuel Ortiz born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, started playing the guitar at the age of 13. He was introduced to guitar music while still in middle school. There, he began playing and learning classical guitar. It was then that he joined a group of performers, who played traditional Puerto Rican Music. As a high school student, he joined the school’s Rondalla, an instrumental group playing both guitar and bass. While still studying in College, he joined the faculty of the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, as a guitar instructor for the Professional Studies and Continuing Education Department. He has also served as a guitar instructor for Antillean Adventist University Music Academy in Puerto Rico and Blue Noche Arts and Music Academy in Lakeland FL. In addition, Samuel, altogether with Aldo Briano and Raquel Borges co-created the Jazz group “Midnight Sun Jazz” in Puerto Rico.
Currently, Samuel works as the director of guitar studies at McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy in Lake Wales. He is also, one of the adjunct instructors for the Classical Guitar Department of the Lois Cowles Harrison School for the Performing Arts in Lakeland. Currently, Samuel serves as the All-County Guitar Facilitator for Polk County Schools.
Samuel has release two studio albums. The first album, “Initium”, was released on March 1st, 2015 and it is a collection of some of his favorite classical guitar songs. The second album, “Nuances”, was released on May 1st, 2018 and features music from the classical, contemporary, jazz and Latin-American repertoire.
Robert Phillips holds a doctorate in music from the University of Miami, and is a former student of Rey de la Torre, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and David Starobin A recipient of a Japan Fulbright, Dr. Phillips is respected internationally as a scholar, educator, as well as a performer. Phillips has embraced a wide range of repertory preferences performing the standard solo classical guitar repertoire as well as Brazilian jazz. He performs his own compositions, and has premiered works by three-time Pulitzer nominee, Frank Brazinski, Eric Ross, Alfred Giusto, and Meyer Kupferman, as well as the premier performance of “Goyescana”, a concerto written for him by three-time Grammy winner, Michael Colina. He most recently has commissioned a set of 6 dances for guitar by Jorge Morel, Troy Gifford, Rex Willis, Howard Buss, Charles Griffin, and Benoit Glazer. He recently recorded these 6 dances for MSR records. They are presently pending release. His previous recording, “Lo Mestre: The Music of Miguel Llobet” is on Centaur records.
Dr. Phillips has been teaching in Polk County since 1995 both as a private instructor and as a classrrom guitar teacher. He taught guitar at All Saints Academy from 1995 through 2010. Since 2010 he has been teaching classical guitar, and music theory at the Lois Cowles Harrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts. Dr. Phillips is also an adjunct professor of applied music (classical guitar) at Southeastern University.
Benjamin Pila is the only classical guitarist ever named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Pila has performed extensively throughout the United States at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center in New York City, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. Pila is a semi-regular performer at the 9/11 Memorial Museum where he’s performed for Pope Francis, three U.S. presidents, and has played on programs with James Taylor, Paul Simon, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma. Pila received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, his master’s degree from The Juilliard School, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California. Dr. Pila currently lives in Tampa, Florida, and is a professor of guitar and humanities at Polk State College.
James Van Druten has been praised by guitarist Stephen Robinson for playing with "great expression and feeling," and has delighted audiences with his mature and refined style of playing. James completed his Bachelor of Music Degree from Stetson University and his Master of Music Degree in guitar performance at Appalachian State University. As a soloist, he has won numerous awards including Fourth Prize in Division I of the 2014 Appalachian State Guitar Festival and Second Prize in the 7th Annual Marilyn Newell Music Festival. James has performed in master classes given by some of the world’s most distinguished guitarists including Manuel Barrueco, Denis Azabagic, Rafael Padron, and Stephen Aron. As a chamber musician, James has had the pleasure of being a member of Stetson University’s Guitar Ensemble, the Appalachian State Guitar Orchestra and has collaborated extensively with soprano Elizabeth Galafa, performing works by Federico García Lorca and Manuel de Falla. Equally comfortable away from the concert stage, James has served as a teaching assistant to Dr. Stephen Robinson and Dr. Douglas James, learning valuable tools on how to approach teaching in a university setting. He has held adjunct positions at Milligan College and Caldwell Community College. James is currently the director of orchestra and guitar at Jewett School of the Arts.