With the passion, style, and musical sophistication borrowing from the best chamber music and string quartet traditions, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet has successfully made its case as one of the world's leading guitar ensembles since its founding in 1986. "Flawless, musical and witty" (Classical Guitar Magazine, England), the MGQ has performed throughout the United States both in recital and with orchestra, balancing a dizzying array of first-rate repertoire ranging from Renaissance and Baroque to Spanish, Latin American and Romantic, to highly imaginative existing and newly commissioned contemporary works. Cutting-edge composer/performer Daniel Bernard Roumain, one of the more than 20 composers commissioned by the MGQ, calls the group "more than a guitar quartet, more than superb musicians, and more than a great chamber group. They are ambassadors of sound, style, and substance."
In 2007, the MGQ began a fascinating new concert collaboration with Flamenco dancer Colette Illarde, featuring an original production of Six Pieces on Spanish Folksongs by the great Spanish composer Enrique Granados. With music arranged by the MGQ, the choreography by Ms. Illarde reflects the extraordinary vitality of Spanish culture and includes Spanish regional and folk dancing, classical ballet and flamenco.
The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet tours regularly throughout the United States in works with full orchestra such as Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto Andaluz and Ian Krouse's Cantiga Variations; and with string orchestra in David Hahn's Concerto alla Barocco and a new arrangement of Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in C. Concerto appearances include the Austin Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Britt Festival Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and the Columbus (GA) Symphony, among others. In recital, the MGQ appears in such cities as Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Omaha, and Williamstown (MA). Other highlights include Princeton University, the Il Encuentro Internacional de Guitarra at the National Arts Center in Mexico City, the Omni Foundation Dynamite Guitar series in San Francisco, the Stetson International Guitar Workshop in Florida, and the Guitar Foundation of America Festival. Its concerts may feature as wide a range of repertoire as Bach, Piazzolla, Peter Maxwell Davies, Ginastera, Purcell, Rodrigo, Stravinsky, many new works by commissioned composers, and an exceptional arrangement of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The web magazine minor7th.com called it "the best arrangement of these 16 movements (Pictures at an Exhibition) I have heard…While staying true to the original sense of the pieces, the Quartet brings fresh colors and lyricism."
With funding assistance from organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, the American Composers Forum and the Schubert Club, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet has commissioned many new works for guitar quartet. Recently commissioned composers include notable Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo who recently was recorded by NAXOS, internationally performed Cuban-American Ileana Perez Velazquez, and award winning composer Anthony Gatto. MGQ’s commissions also include works by Bun-Ching Lam, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Yuanlin Chen, Edie Hill, Eleanor Hovda, David Evan Thomas, Janika Vandervelde, David Hahn, Ian Krouse and David Kechley
The MGQ has been heard on the nationally syndicated Saint Paul Sunday, and on National Public Radio's Performance Today. The group's first three CDs on the Albany and GSP labels — New Works for Guitar Quartet, Over Land and Sea and Pictures at an Exhibition — garnered unanimous international critical acclaim. "With (Over Land and Sea)," said Soundboard Magazine, "the MGQ demonstrates that it is one of the major guitar ensembles in the world."
Committed educators as well as performers, members of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet (Joseph Hagedorn, Jeff Lambert, O. Nicholas Raths, and Jeffrey Thygeson) often appear to teach and present workshops at festivals and universities throughout the United States. The cultural accessibility of the guitar makes it a natural for the MGQ's educational and outreach programs like its two popular versions of "Guitar Talk" for ages 5-12 and 13 through adult.
For more information, please visit www.minneapolisguitarquartet.com.
O. Nicholas Raths
A founding member of the MGQ, Nicholas is a versatile guitarist equally at home in the classical and pop realms. As a studio musician, he can be heard on many of the country's major record labels, including on three of Janet Jackson's albums. Nicholas attended the University of Southern California and received his DMA from the University of Minnesota. He was a student of such classical and jazz masters as Pepe Romero, Howard Roberts, and Jeffrey Van. Nicholas is assistant professor at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he teaches guitar and lectures in popular music history and music theory.
began his study of the classical guitar with MGQ founder, Joseph Hagedorn, at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He continued his studies in Chicago with Denis Azabagic, and attended Northwestern University as a student of Anne Waller, earning Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees. Particularly noted for his prowess as a chamber musician, Jeff has performed with harpist, Liz Cifani and vocalist, Nicole Cabell, both members of the Lyric Opera of Chicago; with violinist, Nina Fan of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; with the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble; and has been a member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet since 2001. As a soloist, Lambert has captured top prizes in guitar competitions in Minneapolis and Chicago, and his debut solo CD, Guitar Recital, was released in 2003. One of his primary interests is working with composers to present new works. In 2006 he was awarded an Artist Initiative grant by the Minnesota State Arts Board, which funded his collaboration with composer, David Crittenden. As a composer himself, Jeff’s works are regularly performed by the MGQ. He has been commissioned by the Saint Paul Guitar Trio, and his music is published by Doberman-Yppan. www.jeffguitar.com
Since his career was launched by winning the 1990 Guitar Foundation of America solo competition, Joseph has maintained an active performing career as a soloist and chamber musician. Praised for his passionate performances and flawless technique as well as his varied programs — on guitar and Renaissance lute — Joseph’s solo and concerto appearances have taken him to more than 25 American cities and to Canada. He has been heard twice on the nationally broadcast radio program Saint Paul Sunday, once with the MGQ and again with assistant concertmaster of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Leslie Shank. A gifted arranger for the MGQ, in 1995 he also was awarded the Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship. This native Iowan and founding member of the MGQ received his bachelor of music degree from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and his master of music degree from the University of Minnesota. He was a student of Richard Stratton, Christopher Carrington, Nelson Amos, and Jeffrey Van. Joseph has been on the music faculty of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls since 1988.
A member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet since 2002, Jeffrey has been an active soloist and chamber musician, with appearances in New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and throughout the Midwest, as well as concerto appearances with orchestras in Minnesota and North Dakota. Jeffrey has performed in master classes with Eliot Fisk, Christopher Parkening, Sharon Isbin, Paul Galbraith, Ben Verdery, Roberto Aussel, and Denis Azabagic. Jeffrey received his bachelor's degree from the University of St. Thomas and his master of music degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he studied with William Kanengiser and received the Pi Kappa Lambda Guitar Scholarship Award. Additional teachers have included Pepe Romero, James Smith, Christopher Kachian, and Brian Head. A native Minnesotan, Jeffrey is on the music faculty of the University of St. Thomas.