News: Curtis Institute of Music to Start a Guitar Program

The article about the new Curtis Institute of Music Guitar Program has been making the rounds in the guitar world for a few weeks now.

I got in touch with Jason Vieaux, David Starobin, and Curtis’s Dean, John Mangan, to get their thoughts on the new program and what set is apart from other guitar programs around the nation.

Fellow guitarists,

There are several factors that we hope will distinguish the new guitar department at Curtis.

One look at the audition requirements for entry into Curtis establishes the fact that this program (which offers full-tuition scholarships to each entrant) is geared for the player of exceptional ability. In addition to the unusually high level solo requirements, we have included a chamber music and concerto component in the entrance audition.

Attending Curtis will give guitarists the opportunity to connect with fellow students of extraordinary ability. Curtis is well known for offering numerous opportunities to its students to perform concerts in solo and chamber music settings, both within and outside the school. This is an invaluable part of Curtis’s extraordinary ability to help the young professional on a successful career path.

Another unusual point is that all guitar students will have regular private lessons with both of us. Our work will, in all likelihood, present differing viewpoints, and this, we hope, will help to sharpen the student’s focus on the possibilities that exist within our common framework. We view this as a healthy way of encouraging the advanced student to make rational decisions. Because the guitar program, like Curtis itself, will be quite compact, it offers our students an exceptional amount of access to both the guitar and conservatory faculty.

As we develop the Curtis guitar program together, we’re most excited about the energy, talent and creativity that the new generation of guitarists will bring to the school.

-Jason Vieaux and David Starobin

The idea of a classical guitar program has been in play at the Curtis Institute of Music for some time. The key was to form a curriculum that would meet the extremely high artistic standard here. (As a guitarist myself, I feel very strongly about this.)

As with all departments at Curtis, the quality of the faculty is paramount. In David Starobin and Jason Vieaux, we have the ideal team, and the other elements have fallen into place from there: the highly accomplished students we will select and the demands the program will make on all who are involved with it. We wanted to create something different, something that stands apart from other programs that truly gifted guitar students might consider attending.

This is the first guitar program to offer the unique advantages Curtis is known for: full-tuition scholarships, a high degree of personalized attention from a superb team of teachers, and a “learn by doing” approach. There will be plenty of performance opportunities—indeed, not just opportunities but expectations. This, too, is characteristic of Curtis. From the moment they enter, our guitar students will be fully integrated into the full musical life of the school, so their technical proficiency must match that of their peers in other instrumental departments. They’ll be playing chamber music and contemporary works in addition to solo and concerto repertoire. This program will be unique, it will be challenging, and it will be of the highest artistic standard. We can’t wait to welcome our first guitar students.

-John Mangan
Vice President and Dean
Curtis Institute of Music

Curtis’s guitar audition requirements are demanding and sure to attract only top notch players. That said, the program is open to people who already have Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degrees, so it’s hard to predict who will be part of the first guitar studio.

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  • fre

    Probably David and Jason will find that they’ll be in empty classes!

    I don’t think there’ll be many applicants, since the entrance requirements are so high, with such a large amount of difficult repertoire.

  • fre

    As an example… try playing Carter’s Changes or Berio’s Sequenza XI…
    These are works that require dedicated study for at least half a year.
    And that’s actually assuming your’re professional already!

    Also: I think that someone who can play Changes or Sequenza (properly!), will not be interested or even be in need of such courses.

  • John Mangan
    John Mangan

    A point of clarification regarding Mr. Davis’s final point: the program is open to anyone of any age, whether they have already earned a degree elsewhere or not. An admitted student who already holds a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree or some other certificate or diploma would enroll in the diploma program at Curtis. An admitted student with no previous degree would have the option enrolling in either the bachelor of music or diploma program.

    John Mangan
    Vice President and Dean
    Curtis Institute of Music