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December 13, 2004

Music lecturer releases solo classical guitar recording

By Scott Rappaport

Troubadour, the first solo classical guitar recording by UCSC music lecturer Mesut Özgen, has been released on Golden Horn Records, a contemporary/traditional world music and jazz label based in Walnut Creek. The title takes its name from the traveling musicians of the medieval European folk tradition known as the troubadours. All of the pieces on the CD are inspired by folk music and include Turkish, American, Paraguayan, Spanish, Hungarian, and Indian influences.

Photo of the CD cover

The CD cover

A champion of new music for guitar, Özgen has performed and taught master classes throughout the United States, Spain, and Turkey. He is the first guitarist ever to be awarded the Dean's Prize, the highest honorary award of the Yale School of Music. Özgen has also performed as a featured soloist in the International Paco Peña Guitar Festival in Cordoba, Spain, and was a prizewinner in the International Portland Guitar Competition.

Originally from Turkey, Özgen began teaching himself guitar in 1981 while in medical school. During his seven years of medical practice, he also played concerts and taught guitar at the Gazi University School of Music Education and the Hacettepe University in Turkey. After performing at the Paco Peña Guitar Festival, he was invited to the United States by guitarist/composer Benjamin Verdery to study with him at Yale University's School of Music. Özgen completed both his master of music degree and artist diploma at Yale and later a doctoral program at Arizona State University. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1998.

Özgen has a long-standing interest in bringing classical guitar music to wider audiences. His staged performances include “Folkie Classical Guitar,” a show featuring classical music based on American, Spanish, Turkish, Greek, and Argentinean folk cultures with special stage design and costumes. He also produced “Pick and Roll,” a work created for guitar ensemble by Verdery, that features a basketball player in dialogue with the ensemble, utilizing spatial elements in the concert hall.

Last March, Özgen's multimedia concert project "New Dimensions in Classical Guitar" premiered at UCSC as part of the Arts & Lectures season. For more information about his new CD, contact Golden Horn records at: www.goldenhorn.com.


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