Stories » Sharon Isbin on Gay Marriage, Bach and Protecting Her Hands / WQXR Interview

Top 10 for Nov

Sharon Isbin on Gay Marriage, Bach and Protecting Her Hands / WQXR Interview

Bookmark and Share

Sharon Isbin's resume is a long list of groundbreaking firsts.

In 1989, Isbin founded the guitar department at the Juilliard School, where she still teaches. In 2001, she took home the first Grammy a classical guitarist had won in 28 years (she has received others since). She has been busy this year preparing two world premieres, one by Chris Brubeck, the son of composer David Brubeck, and the other by Richard Danielpour, a song cycle for her and the mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, which will premiere at Carnegie Hall. Isbin is also a rare female performer in a guitar world dominated by men.

In an interview recorded last month with WQXR's Elliott Forrest, Isbin expresses her hope for another first this year: that the U.S. Supreme Court will open the door wider to same-sex marriage throughout the country.

"I certainly hope they'll do the right thing and make this an issue that's available to all citizens, not just half the human race," she said. "I don't have any plans to get married myself but it's certainly very personal in that I believe it is the right of every person to express their love through marriage and nobody should be denied that opportunity."

Isbin, who came out at age 18 and has appeared in the Showtime series "The L Word," says that "we have a lot of work to do" in the gay rights movement. "When you still have a youth population that is very high in the attempted suicide rate, and there's tremendous bullying that still goes on, it's not over."

The guitarist talks about being the subject of a documentary, "Sharon Isbin: Troubadour," which is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. The film, which played nationwide on PBS, explores her musical roots in Italy, her youth in Minnesota and her lifelong collaborations with composers.

She also reflects on her fascination with science, performing at the White House and how she guards her hands (including wearing gloves in the middle of summer).  LISTEN TO Sharon Isbin's INTERVIEW WITH WQXR: New York Elliott Forrest