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Sharon Isbin | Isabel Leonard: Bio

Highly acclaimed for her "passionate intensity and remarkable vocal beauty," the Grammy Award winning Isabel Leonard continues to thrill audiences both in the opera house and on the concert stage.  In repertoire that spans from Vivaldi to Mozart to Thomas Ades, she has graced the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bavarian State Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, the title roles in Griselda, La Périchole, and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as Sesto in both Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and Handel's Giulio Cesare.

She has appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her time:  James Levine, Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Franz Welser-Möst, Edo de Waart, James Conlon, Andris Nelsons, and Harry Bicket with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Vienna Philharmonic, among others.

Ms. Leonard is in constant demand as a recitalist and is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall.  She is a recent Grammy Award winner for Thomas Ades' The Tempest (Best Opera Recording) and the recipient of the 2013 Richard Tucker Award.  She recently joined the supporters of the Prostate Cancer Foundation to lend her voice in honor of her father who died from the disease when she was in college.

 

Acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility, multiple GRAMMY Award winner Sharon Isbin has been hailed as "the pre-eminent guitarist of our time". She is the winner of Guitar Player magazine's "Best Classical Guitarist" award, and the Toronto and Madrid Queen Sofia competitions, and was the first guitarist ever to win the Munich Competition. She has appeared as soloist with over 170 orchestras and has given sold-out performances in the world's finest halls, including New York's Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls, Boston's Symphony Hall, Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, London's Barbican and Wigmore Halls, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Paris' Châtelet, Vienna's Musikverein, Munich's Herkulessaal, Madrid's Teatro Real and many others. She has served as Artistic Director/Soloist of festivals she created for Carnegie Hall, the Ordway Music Theatre (St. Paul), New York's 92nd Street Y, and the acclaimed national radio series Guitarjam. A frequent guest on NPR's All Things Considered and Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, she has been profiled on television throughout the world, including CBS Sunday Morning and A&E. She was a featured guest on Showtime Television's hit series The L Word, and a soloist on the GRAMMY nominated soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning The Departed. On September 11, 2002, Ms. Isbin performed at Ground Zero for the internationally televised memorial. Among other career highlights, she performed in concert at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama in November 2009, and was the only classical artist to perform in the 2010 GRAMMY Awards. She has been profiled in periodicals from People to Elle, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as appearing on the covers of over 45 magazines. Her 2015 national television performances on PBS include the Billy Joel Gershwin Prize, Tavis Smiley, and American Public Television's presentation of the acclaimed one-hour documentary on her life and work produced by Susan Dangel titled Sharon Isbin: Troubadour, seen by millions on nearly 200 PBS stations across the US, and the winner of the 2015 ASCAP Television Broadcast Award. The film was released with bonus performances on DVD/Blu-ray by Video Artists International. Watch the trailer at: www.sharonisbintroubadour.com

Ms. Isbin's catalogue of over 25 recordings-from Baroque, Spanish/Latin and 20th Century to crossover and jazz-fusion-reflects remarkable versatility. Her latest releases, Sharon Isbin: 5 Classic Albums (Warner) and Sharon Isbin & Friends: Guitar Passions (Sony) with rock/jazz guests Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Heart's Nancy Wilson, Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo, have been #1 bestsellers on Amazon.com. Her 2010 GRAMMY Award-winning CD Journey to the New World with guests Joan Baez and Mark O'Connor, was a #1 bestselling classical CD on Amazon.com and iTunes, and spent 63 consecutive weeks on the top Billboard charts. Her Dreams of a World soared onto top classical Billboard charts, edging out The 3 Tenors, and earned her a GRAMMY for "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance", making her the first classical guitarist to receive a GRAMMY in 28 years. Her world premiere recording of concerti written for her by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun received a GRAMMY, as well as Germany's prestigious Echo Klassik Award. She received a Latin GRAMMY nomination for "Best Classical Album" and a GLAAD Media Award nomination for "Outstanding Music Artist" (alongside Melissa Etheridge) for her Billboard Top 10 Classical disc with the New York Philharmonic of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and concerti by Ponce and Villa-Lobos. This marked the Philharmonic's first and only recording with a guitar soloist, and followed their Avery Fisher Hall performances with Ms. Isbin as their first guitar soloist in 26 years. Baroque Favorites for Guitar with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra remained on the Billboard Top 10 for 16 weeks, and her Journey to the Amazon with Brazilian percussionist Thiago de Mello and saxophonist Paul Winter, a bestseller in the U.S. and the U.K., received a GRAMMY nomination. She is also featured on Howard Shore's GRAMMY nominated soundtrack for The Departed.

Other CDs include Artist Profile, Wayfaring Stranger with mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, Greatest Hits (EMI), and Aaron Jay Kernis' Double Concerto with violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra which received a 2000 GRAMMY nomination. Her eight best-selling titles for EMI include J.S. Bach Complete Lute Suites and concerti by Joaquin Rodrigo which the composer praised as "magnificent". She is also featured on the GRAMMY Foundation's Smart Symphonies™ CD distributed to over five million families. Her recordings have received many other awards, including "Critic's Choice Recording of the Year" in Gramophone and CD Review, "Recording of the Month" in Stereo Review, and "Album of the Year" in Guitar Player.

Sharon Isbin has been acclaimed for expanding the guitar repertoire with some of the finest new works of the century. She has commissioned and premiered more concerti than any other guitarist, as well as numerous solo and chamber works. Her American Landscapes is the first-ever recording of American guitar concerti and features works written for her by John Corigliano, Joseph Schwantner and Lukas Foss. In November 1995, it was launched in the space shuttle Atlantis and presented to Russian cosmonauts during a rendezvous with Mir. In January 2000, she premiered the ninth concerto written for her: Concert de Gaudí by Christopher Rouse with Christoph Eschenbach and the NDR Symphony, followed by the US premiere with the Dallas Symphony. Other composers who have written for her include Joan Tower, David Diamond, Aaron Jay Kernis, Leo Brouwer, Howard Shore, Steve Vai, Ned Rorem and Ami Maayani. In 2003 she premiered John Duarte's Joan Baez Suite, and in 2005 she premiered a duo by rock guitarist Steve Vai in their joint concert in Paris' Théâtre du Châtelet. Her world premieres in 2015 include Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra composed for her by Chris Brubeck, and a song cycle by Richard Danielpour commissioned for her and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard by Carnegie Hall for their 125th anniversary and by Chicago's Harris Theater.

Other recent highlights include tours with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Austria's Tonkünstler Orchestra and Belgium's Philharmonique de Liege, recitals and concerti in Carnegie Hall and Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, a week of performances at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Filarmonica Toscanini in Milan, MIDEM Classical Awards in Cannes, a 20-city Guitar Passions tour with Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo in 2014, and a sold-out performance in Carnegie Hall with Sting, Katy Perry and Jerry Seinfeld in 2015 to benefit the David Lynch Foundation. 

Ms. Isbin has toured Europe annually since she was seventeen, and appears as soloist with orchestras throughout the world, including the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St. Louis, Nashville, New Jersey, Louisville, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Buffalo and Utah Symphonies; Saint Paul, Los Angeles, Zurich, Scottish and Lausanne Chamber Orchestras; the London Symphony and Orchestre National de France; and BBC Scottish, Lisbon Gulbenkian, Prague, Milan Verdi, Belgrade, Mexico City, Jerusalem and Tokyo Symphonies. Her festival appearances include Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Interlochen, Santa Fe, Mexico City, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Montreux, Strasbourg, Paris, Athens, Istanbul, Ravenna, Prague and Budapest International Festivals.

As a chamber musician, Ms. Isbin has performed with the Emerson String Quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a "Guitar Summit" tour with jazz greats Herb Ellis, Stanley Jordan and Michael Hedges, trio recordings with Larry Coryell and Laurindo Almeida, and duo recordings with Carlos Barbosa-Lima. She collaborated with Antonio Carlos Jobim, and has shared the stage with luminaries from Sting to Aretha Franklin.

Born in Minneapolis, Sharon Isbin began her guitar studies at age nine in Italy, and later studied with Andrès Segovia and Oscar Ghiglia. A former student of Rosalyn Tureck, Ms. Isbin collaborated with the noted keyboardist in publishing and recording landmark first performance editions of the Bach lute suites for guitar (Warner Classics/G. Schirmer). She received a B.A. cum laude from Yale University and a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music. She is the author of the Classical Guitar Answer Book, and is Director of guitar departments at the Aspen Music Festival, and The Juilliard School, which she created in l989 becoming the first and only guitar instructor in the institution's 100-year history.

In her spare time, Ms. Isbin enjoys trekking in the jungles of Latin America, cross-country skiing, snorkeling and mountain hiking.

1 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / El cafe de Chinitas (2:59)  
2 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Las morillas de Jaen (2:08)  
3 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Anda, jaleo (2:01)  
4 Granados - Danza espanola No. 5 (Andaluza) (5:36)  
5 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Romance de Don Boyso (5:02)  
6 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Zorongo (1:11)  
7 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Nana de Sevilla (4:22)  
8 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / La Tarara (arr. Emilio de Torre/Isbin) (:57)  
9 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Los mozos de Monleon (6:18)  
10 Lorca - Canciones espanolas antiguas / Sevillanas del siglo XVIII (2:45)  
11 Rodrigo - Aranjuez ma pensee (6:29)  
12 Lara - Granada (3:08)  
13 Tarrega - Capricho arabe (5:55)  
14 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / El pano moruno (1:22)  
15 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / Seguidilla murciana (1:22)  
16 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / Asturiana (2:38)  
17 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / Jota (3:19)  
18 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / Nana (1:57)  
19 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / Cancion (1:04)  
20 de Falla - Siete canciones populares espanolas / Polo (1:38)  
21 Montsalvatge - from Cinco canciones negras / Canto negro (1:17)  
22 Montsalvatge - from Cinco canciones negras / Cancion de cuna para dormir a un negrito (2:42)  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7UpfS6lzHg
Isabel Leonard & Sharon Isbin Perform Granada by Agustin Lara
Isabel Leonard sings the National Anthem at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show - Feb 2017

ALMA ESPAÑOLA presents multiple GRAMMY Award winners Sharon Isbin and Argentinian-American Isabel Leonard in the first Spanish art song album with guitar of its kind in 40 years, including twelve world premiere recordings of arrangements by Isbin. Duos by Federico García Lorca, Manuel de Falla, Xavier Montsalvatge, Agustín Lara and Joaquín Rodrigo, with guitar solos by Granados and Tárrega, are heard in performances that evoke the rich and magnificent tradition of Spain. Leonard & Isbin have been appearing as a duo since 2014 in sold-out concerts across the country, including Washington DC's Kennedy Center and New York's Carnegie Hall. The Philadelphia Inquirer described their performance as "feasts of beautifully sculpted phrases…glimpses of heaven," the New York Times praised their "soulful depth" and the Washington Post their "impassioned performance ... captivating sense of drama."  The collaboration of Isabel Leonard and Sharon Isbin brings together one of today's brightest vocal stars, heard on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Paris Opera, with a guitar virtuoso acclaimed as "the pre-eminent guitarist of our time."

Crossover Media Projects with: Sharon Isbin | Isabel Leonard