Sérgio & Odair Assad
Brazilian-born brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad have set the benchmark for all other guitarists by creating a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity and expression.
Their exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble playing come from both a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and from studies with the guitar/lutenist Monina Távora (1921-2011), a disciple of Andrés Segovia. In addition to setting new performance standards, the Assads have played a major role in creating and introducing new music for two guitars. Their virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them including Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Francisco Mignone, Marlos Nobre, Edino Krieger, Roland Dyens, Dusan Bogdanovic, Nikita Koshkin and Jorge Morel.
Now Sérgio Assad is adding to their repertoire by composing music for the duo and for various musical partners both with Symphony Orchestra and in recitals. They have worked extensively with such renowned artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Fernando Suarez Paz, Paquito D’Rivera, Gidon Kremer, Dawn Upshaw and, recently, Avi Avital.
The Assads began playing the guitar together at an early age and went on to study for seven years with Dona Monina. Their international career began with a major prize at the 1979 Young Artists Competition in Bratislava. Odair is based in Brussels. Since 1994 he teaches at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique (ARTS²) in Mons, Belgium. Sérgio resides in Chicago. He was for several years on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory.
The Assad’s repertoire includes original music composed by Sérgio Assad and his re-workings of folk and jazz music as well as Latin music of almost every style. Their standard classical repertoire includes transcriptions of the great Baroque keyboard literature of Bach, Rameau and Scarlatti and adaptations of works by such diverse figures as Gershwin, Ginastera and Debussy. Their touring programs are always a compelling blend of styles, periods and cultures.
The Assads are also recognized as prolific recording artists, primarily for the Nonesuch and GHA labels.
In a ceremony in Oklahoma City, on June 28th 2015, the Guitar Foundation of America honored Sérgio and Odair Assad with the Artistic Achievement Award for their monumental contributions to the development of the art and life of the classical guitar.
Because they have been performing together for most of their lives, and because they play from memory, there is a lively interaction between them that creates the impression that they are improvising like a couple of virtuosic, perhaps even telepathic, jazz players. – The New York Times
As performers, these two play like the close brothers they are. They pick up instantly on the other’s cues, respond as if intuitively and seem to be wired in to the same operating system. What’s projected is a sort of ‘ëuber-guitar,’ two instruments and one brain. – The Washington Post
Call it one of the most engaging musical presentations of the season. Better yet, call it a stunning display of the music of the Western Hemisphere. – The Los Angeles Times