Sean Shibe

Sean Shibe was born in Edinburgh in 1992, and is currently studying guitar at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, under Allan Neave. His musical education was grounded in the Scottish National Centres of Excellence from the age of 9, firstly in the City of Edinburgh Music School. Shortly after turning 14 he moved to the Aberdeen City Music School to commence study under Allan Neave. When 15 years old he auditioned for music conservatoires, receiving scholarship offers from the RSAMD, Trinity College, and the Royal College of Music in London. He received his ABRSM Diploma (perf.) with distinction in the Summer before assuming his place in the RSAMD, as the youngest musician to ever enter the establishment. Upon graduating he received honours of the first class.

He has worked with such groups as the Barbirolli Quartet, the Scottish Flute Trio and Scottish Opera, and is in regular demand as a soloist from guitar festivals around the United Kingdom, having performed at Dundee Guitar Festival, Big Guitar Weekend and Ullapool Guitar Festival. In 2009, he was invited by West Dean International Classical Guitar Festival to perform the first movement of the Brouwer Sonata to the maestro himself. In addition to these invitations, he has performed recitals and as a concerto soloist to critical acclaim in the United Kingdom, China, Holland, Germany, Liechtenstein and has featured on the BBC and European television and radio.

He regularly collaborates with composers in reworkings and new compositions to consistent critical acclaim, so far having premiered seven new works. These include a reworking of Jacob’s Ladder by Halfidi Hallgrimsson (Icelandic Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence) in his first recital series in the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In the annual PLUG new music festival of 2009, his premiere of Marek Pascienczny’s Sequenza for guitar solo was reviewed as: “pure magic…the best acoustic guitarist I have ever heard…Sean Shibe…remember the name, one day he will be famous” (Michael Tumelty, The Herald).

He also competes on an international level – in 2008, aged 16, he was a finalist in the first senior competition he entered, “Westfalian Guitar Spring” in Germany, and later that year received the Chanterelle Guitar Prize. The following year he won the Royal Over-Seas League Len Lickorish Award for a String Player of Promise, was awarded second place in the LiGiTa Liechtenstein International Guitar Competition and Festival, and first prize in the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. In November 2010 he won the North East Scotland Classical Guitar Society Award, and 3 months later, in London, won the String Section Final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition. In May 2011 he was awarded 3rd prize in the Anna Amalia Guitar competition in Weimar and 2 weeks later became only the second guitarist ever to win the Royal Over-Seas League first prize and gold medal. In February 2012, following nomination and shortlisting, he became the only solo guitarist to have received a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship. Highlights of this season have included a Wigmore Hall debut and sell-out performances at the East Neuk and Brighton Festivals. Later this year he will make his debut with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, performing Rodrigo’s Concierto De Aranjuez under Andrew Manze.

I first met Sean when he joined NYGE in 2005. He was around 4’8”when we first met.
He is now an artist of growing stature.

If you can receive BBC playback, this is a great link to listen to his work as a BBC new generation artist.Here is a link to an interview in the Scotsman.

Some videos




Interview with Nejc Kuhar

Nejc 1 Nejc 2 All Souls University Registry GG and Nejcs

Last month, Nejc Kuhar (that’s pronounced Nates Kuhar) visited me in Oxford.
I first met this genial Slovenian composer and guitarist at the Iserlohn Festival and was impressed by his playing and general quiet but friendly manner.

He has been composing up a storm since I last met him, and I too the opportunity to quiz him over a pint in the famous Kings Arms pub in central Oxford. He is very tall and had to stoop to get in the snug at the back. We talked about the reason for his visit to the UK, his attitude to composition and his studies with Alvaro Pierri.

Here are some videos of Nejc playing and composing

Composing in real time


Black Hole

Hommage a Erik Satie

Eden-Stell Guitar Duo 25th Anniversary Concert at Kings Place 25th October 2014

Eden Stell Duo

This special concert was part of the London Guitar Festival, and there were other interesting events happening during the day as well.
I discovered that Jack Hancher and Haydn Bateman, both formerly NYGE members were playing on the Aspire Stage programme, and so were Julian Vickers and Dan Bovey (also former NYGE alumni) on the Young Artist Platform. Wonderful musicianship and exciting playing and a great taster for the main event that evening. I particularly enjoyed the Vickers Bovey performance of Pierre Petit’s Toccata and Joe Cutler’s Every Day Music, which was given its World Premier, and the Hancher Bateman Duo’s exciting Rodrigo Tonadilla.

Later on, at the reception before the Eden Stell concert, there were many luminaries of the guitar world present, including the duo’s former teacher at the Royal Academy, Michael Lewin and David Russell, who had just flown in from Korea. Tom Kerstens, the genial organiser of the festival was also in evidence.

The concert was superb – a testament to the duo’s hard work and lively approach to the art of chamber music making.
Every nuance in the pieces by Couperin and Rameau was captured, even more so than on the harpsichord for which they were written. Johannes Möller’s “When Buds are Breaking” was similarly expertly and delicately realised.
The staple guitar duo pieces by Sergio Assad (Jobiniana) and Piazzolla (Tango Suite) were thrilling to hear and given a freshness so characteristic of the Eden Stell Duo.
But the revelation of the evening was Mark Eden’s masterly arrangements of Canciones y Danzas by Frederic Mompou – these are magical piano miniatures whose reference to Catalan folksong will be familiar to guitarists though Llobet’s arrangements. The spare texture and simple yet emotionally charged world of Mompou fits the guitar perfectly.
The concert ended with the duo’s signature four handed encore. A CD is due to appear next year, and I am ready to pre-order it!
The evening was a wonderful tribute to Mark and Chris’ twenty five years of playing together, showcasing their subtlety, expert insight, virtuosity and above all their sense of fun which I have been privileged to be party to ever since they formed their duo.

I was not able to record any of the concert, but here is a short video of Chris and Mark warming up before:

Here are some photos of the occasion:
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Some videos of the Eden Stell duo in action if you can’t wait to hear them live

Sondheim and Slonimsky

To continue the little digression on invective

Some time ago, composer and playwright Stephen Sondheim wrote a book called  Look, I Made a Hat which amongst many other wry observations contains the following paragraph, which I find expresses exactly what it is I enjoy about reading uncomprehending criticism. It might also be comforting for those who feel “unfairly trashed” (and who hasn’t?)…

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