About the Ben Verdery Maui Guitar Masterclass

Ben Verdery has been teaching a guitar masterclass on the island of Maui in Hawaii since 1998, with the 2017 class as the 18th session. Ben believes that the beautiful location inspires students to play in ways they may not at home. The class takes place over ten days, with the masterclasses held in the beautiful seaside location of the Keawala‘i Church in Makena. Student concerts take place at the end of the class in the Makena location and at the inspiring Jodo Mission in Lahaina. There is also a special concert mid-way through the class featuring several advanced students and taking place upcountry at St. John's Church in Kula. The class opens with a concert in Makawao featuring Ben and guest performers.

Each student receives three 30-minute lessons during the course of the class, plays in the guitar orchestra, and performs in the two student recitals. In recent years, Ben has invited guest artists to teach, including Fred Hand,  John Dearman, Andrew York, David Leisner, and, in 2017, Martha Masters. Also assisting with the class, teaching ukulele and slack key guitar classes, and helping with the ensemble is Hawaiian guitarist Ian O’Sullivan. The class was organized for many years by Rie Schmidt, and is currently administered by John Olson.

The Ben Verdery Maui Masterclass is made possible in part by a generous grant from the D’Addario Foundation.

Ben Verdery, David Leisner, and Ian O'Sullivan

Ben Verdery

Artistic director of 92nd Street Y’s Art of the Guitar series since 2006, chair of the guitar department at the Yale University School of Music and artistic director of the bi-annual Yale Guitar Extravaganza since 1985, Benjamin Verdery is hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career.

Since 1980 he has performed worldwide in theaters and at festivals, including Theatre Carré (Amsterdam), Maverick Concerts (NY), the International Guitar Festival in Havana, Wigmore Hall (London), Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Taxco (Mexico), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Opera in New York. His tours regularly take him throughout the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. He has recorded and performed with such diverse artists as Andy Summers, Frederic Hand, William Coulter, Leo Kottke, Anthony Newman, Jessye Norman, Paco Peña, Hermann Prey and John Williams.

Ben Verdery has released more than 15 albums, his most recent being Happy Here with William Coulter; and Branches, featuring works of Bach, Strauss, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart and the traditional "Amazing Grace." His CD Start Now won the 2005 Classical Recording Foundation Award, while other recordings of note include Some Towns & Cities and his collaborations with John Williams (John Williams Plays Vivaldi) and Andy Summers (First You Build a Cloud). Future recordings include one featuring Yale composers and one featuring his classical guitar arrangements: Randy Newman, Neil Young, Prince, Hendrix, John Lennon, Eddy Vedder, The National, Cream, Elvis and others yet to be arranged.

Many of the leading composers of our time have created music for Ben, including Ezra Laderman, Martin Bresnick, John Anthony Lennon, Anthony Newman, Roberto Sierra, Van Stiefel and Jack Vees. Of particular note was the commission by the Yale University Music Library of a work by Ingram Marshall for classical and electric guitars. Ben Verdery and Andy Summers premiered the work, Dark Florescence, at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra. In 2012, the two guitarists appeared at the annual Amsterdam Electric Guitar Heaven.

Benjamin Verdery is also a prolific published composer in his own right with many of his compositions having been performed, recorded and published over the years. In 2012, he was commissioned to compose two works: Penzacola Belongs To All, commissioned by the Pensacola Guitar Orchestra in celebration of their 30th anniversary (premiered in Pensacola October, 2012) and Stand in Your Own Light for guitar and koto, commissioned by the Kyo-Shin-An Arts with funding from the New York State Council for the Arts (premiered in New York City November, 2012). In 2010, The Assad Duo premiered Ben's work What He Said. Commissioned by the 92 St Y, the work is dedicated to the late luthier Thomas Humphrey.

Other recent works have included Now and Ever (for David Russell, Telarc), Peace, Love and Guitars (for John Williams and John Etheridge, SONY Classical), Capitola (John Williams, SONY Classical) and Give (for eight guitars). This last was composed specifically for Thomas Offermann and the guitar ensemble of the Hochschule for Music and Theatre (Rostock, Germany) and dedicated to the memory of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy. Ben’s Scenes from Ellis Island, for guitar orchestra, has been extensively broadcast and performed at festivals and universities in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Europe, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet included it on their CD, Air and Ground (Sony Classical).

Doberman-Yppan (Canada) is currently publishing his solo and duo works for guitar, and Alfred Music distributes the solo pieces from Some Towns & Cities as well as instructional books and video.  Other compositions are available at Ben’s web site. Most recently, Wake Forest University has asked Ben to compose a new solo guitar work based on a poem by Pablo Neruda for its homage to Pablo Neruda in September, 2014 and later in 2014 Ben will finish scoring the documentary film Corida Goyesque, an art film about, among other things, the role of the bull in art.

In2007 Ben was appointed an honorary board member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and the summer of 2014 marked the 15th anniversary of his Annual International Master Class on the island of Maui.

Benjamin Verdery uses D'Addario strings and guitars by Garrett Lee and Otto Vowinkel.

Martha Masters

Martha Masters first achieved international recognition in 2000 when she won first prize in the Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition. That same year she also won the Andres Segovia International Competition in Linares, Spain, and was named a finalist in the Alexandre Tansman International Competition of Musical Personalities in Lodz, Poland. Since then,she has been active as a solo recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist around the world. Recent seasons have included appearances at festivals and on concert series through the United States, Germany, Poland, Russia, and China. 

Martha received both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Manuel Barrueco, and completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Southern California as a student of Scott Tennant. She is currently on the guitar faculty of Loyola Marymount University and California State University Fullerton, and is president of the Guitar Foundation of America. She has five recordings on the Naxos and GSP labels, and has published books three books with Mel Bay Publications and Alfred Music.

Ian O’Sullivan

Proclaimed by Classical Guitar as “thoughtful” and praised by The Honolulu Advertiser as “delightful,” Ian O’Sullivan is a classically-trained guitarist and composer from the North Shore of O‘ahu. Well-versed in Hawaiian slack-key guitar and the ‘ukulele, in addition to the Western classical repertoire, Ian has performed at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, New York City Classical Guitar Society, New England Guitar Society, Hawaii Public Radio Atherton Studios, Hawaii Opera Theater, and the Orvis Auditorium at the University of Hawaii.  He can also be found regularly in Honolulu at Jazzminds, Tiki’s, and Mez 127. In 2013 Ian released his first solo album Born and Raised, featuring his original compositions alongside music of fellow Hawaii composers.

As a child, Ian began playing the ‘ukulele by ear. He then experimented with electric guitar in a rock band during high school years, familiarizing himself with contemporary styles of reggae, hip-hop, and jazz through tablature and recordings. In 2001, Ian entered the University of Hawaii at Manoa as a Marine Biology major, though it was not long after when he met Grammy Award winning artist and then UH lecturer of classical guitar Jeff Peterson who introduced Ian to the world of classical guitar. During his years at UH, Ian transformed from a non-music-literate garage band guitarist to being the first guitarist from Hawaii to be accepted at Yale University’s School of Music.

Ian returned to O‘ahu in 2012 accepting the lectureship in classical guitar from his alma mater. During the 2013-14 season, Ian will appear in performance at the Orvis Auditorium, “Pakele Live” at the Willows, and Benjamin Verdery’s Maui Guitar Class. Ian is a proud graduate of The Kamehameha Schools, and the recipient of the Yale Elliot Fisk Award.