Sérgio Assad

Born December 26, 1952, into a musical family in Mococa, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sergio Assad began creating music for the guitar not long after he began playing the instrument. By age 14, he was arranging and writing original compositions for the guitar duo he had formed with his brother, Odair. Sergio went on to study conducting and composition at the Escola Nacional de Música in Rio de Janeiro, and worked privately with the noted Brazilian composition teacher, Esther Scliar.

Over the last twenty years, Mr. Assad has concentrated most of his efforts building a repertoire for the guitar duo. He has extended the possibilities of the two-guitar combination through his arrangements of Latin American music by composers such as Piazzolla, Villa Lobos, and Ginastera as well as Baroque to Modern music by Scarlatti, Rameau, Soler, Bach, Mompou, Ravel, Debussy, and Gershwin among others.

As a composer Assad has completed more than fifty works for guitar, many of which have become standards in the guitar repertoire. His Aquarelle for solo guitar was chosen as the required contemporary work for the 2002 Guitar Foundation of America Competition in Miami. He has also written the set piece for the GFA Competition in 2008. Assad’s orchestral compositions include the ballet Scarecrow, the concerto Mikis for guitar and string orchestra, and the Fantasia Carioca which he and Odair premiered with the Saint Paul Orchestra conducted by John Adams in 1998.

Lately, the Assad Duo has collaborated in performances and recordings with classical artists Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the Turtle island Quartet, and Paquito d’Rivera. The collaboration with Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg inspired Sergio to write the triple concerto Originis for violin, two guitars and chamber orchestra. This piece celebrates the respective Italian and Brazilian roots of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the Assad Duo, and has been performed with the New Jersey Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra among others.

One of his most recent compositions for two guitars, Tahhiyya Li Ossoulina, received a Latin Grammy award as best contemporary composition of 2008.