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What Makes an Artist?

  • What Makes an Artist?

    Conversation with Classical Guitarist Elina Chekan

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    Elina (Ella) Chekan is currently teaching classical guitar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she also directs the Suzuki and Pre-College Guitar Program.

    A native of Minsk, Belarus, Ella began studying guitar at the age of 13 with Valeriy Gromov. She graduated from Minsk Music College in 1994, and the Belarus Academy of Music in 1999 under Eugene Gridiushko with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance, Orchestral Conducting, and Guitar Pedagogy.

    In the year 2000 Ella entered Yale University where she received the Louis and Anne Rosoff award and graduated with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance with professor Ben Verdery.

    Combining active performance and teaching careers, Ella has appeared as a soloist, and chamber musician throughout the United States and abroad.

    Some of this year’s appearances include Chamber Music Milwaukee Series, Brussels Royal Museum of Musical Instrument in Belgium, Tucson Classical Guitar Society, Mannes College Guitar Festival in New York.

    In her teaching Ella believes in the individualized approach to every student with tailored instruction based on student needs. Mrs. Chekan has extensive knowledge of guitar pedagogy and repertoire, and has experienced first hand different guitar schools of thought. Ella is also a certified Suzuki instructor registered with the Suzuki Association of Americas. All this experience allows her to find unique approaches and repertoire for each of her students, giving them a solid foundation in technique and musicianship at an early stage.

    Along with conducting Ella has arranged a wide variety of music for solo and chamber music. Since 2005, Ella is on the faculty at “Usdan Center for the Performing Arts” in Long Island, NY. In addition to teaching and performing at USDAN, she conducts the guitar orchestra with up to sixty performers.

    In her quest for present-day student repertoire, Ella comissioned composer Jorge Morel to write a series of student repertoire solo and ensemble pieces that is published by Mel Bay. In her believe that young players are our future, Ella is working with musicians and composers encouraging them to write appealing and musically interesting pieces for the young generation of guitarists.

    Renowned Argentinean Composer Jorge Morel dedicated to Ms. Chekan his composition “Campañas” published by Mell Bay in “The Magnificent Guitar of Jorge Morel”.

    Ella Chekan performs on a John Price guitar and uses Savarez strings.

  • What Makes an Artist?

    What Makes an Artist? – The Manifesto

    Hello my name is Don Linke and I’m here in Milwaukee WI where I’ve spent the last 45 years or so as a professional musician and university instructor learning what I believe it takes to legitimately call oneself an Artist. During this time my growth rings have been quite consistent. However, lacking anything that might be regarded as genius, it’s taken most of those years to reach my goal. Now having the confidence to describe myself as an Artist, I’m dismayed at how often I hear the words artist and art describing people and things that clearly do not measure up to any credible standard. Look, on first hearing you might think “who’s this guy to say what is or isn’t anything?” You may be right but here’s the plan…

    Along with some great friends, fellow musicians and you the audience we’re going to discuss, debate, maybe negotiate and ultimately celebrate what goes into the making of an artist, ergo Art.

    Knowledge, commitment, discipline, passion, pride, respect, accountability, confidence, perseverance, tenacity, affirmation and reaffirmation.

    These descriptive words are all represented in the constitution of an artist. They describe less about the final work, and more about the “how” factor that goes into creating that certain painting, recording or particular performance.

    The great jazz pianist Bill Evans said (I’m paraphrasing) “Jazz isn’t the what it’s the “how”. So it’s not that you can play a certain tune, it’s how you play it that counts”.

    I think we might all agree it’s not a million views on YouTube that defines what art is and you won’t find your inner artist by gazing admiringly in the mirror.

    Michelangelo’s David is one thing, Those wooden cut out silhouettes on sale along the highway are another; they both certainly exist but I think we’d agree one is more “art” than the other. I’d like to get deeper into the differences, again not to denigrate the pop world but to celebrate the art world.

    I do think this “how” thing is what we are allowing to erode. I don’t think dumbing down or excessive inclusion is the solution to success in the arts. My guests and I along with you guys tuning in will investigate and critique what the artists themselves have to share in hopes of stimulating more interest and enthusiasm for the artists among of us.

    Here’s the thing. Anyone can be anything they want to be; but maybe not everyone can be everything they want to be, just cause they “wanna be”. Vision without execution is an illusion.

    So. If you’re an artist, want to be an artist, or you’re interested in artists… Join us and add some, or get some insight as to what it takes to be an artist.

  • What Makes an Artist?

    Conversation with Classical Guitarist Rene Izquierdo (Part 1)

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    Rene Izquierdo, a native from Cuba, graduated from the Guillermo Tomas, Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and Superior Institute of Art in Havana. In the United States, Mr. Izquierdo earned a Master of Music and an Artist Diploma degrees from the Yale University School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. While at Yale he represented the university in an exchange program with the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse du Paris and worked with guitarists Olivie Chassain and Roland Dyens. Rene has appeared as a guest soloist and in chamber music concerts throughout the United States, Cuba and Europe. He has shared the stage with prestigious guitarists including Eliot Fisk, Benjamin Verdery and Jorge Morel, as well as renowned flutist Ransom Wilson, soprano Lucy Shelton, David Jolley and Paquito d’Rivera. Renowned composers such as Jorge Morel and Carlos R. Rivera have dedicated works to him.

    Mr. Izquierdo is a recipient of numerous awards. He is a winner of JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition in 2004, Extremadura International Guitar Competition, Schadt String competition, Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition among others.

    He is currently a professor of classical guitar at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and an active solo performer and chamber musician. Rene has studied with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Shin-Ichi Fukuda, Eli Kassner, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, David Starobin, Eduardo Fernandez, Jorge Morel, Robert Beaser and Anthony Newman among others.