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Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre

Glorious Guitars, Tim Berens & Craig Wagner

2015-16 Season The Ohio Valley SymphonySaturday, April 30, 2016 at 7:30 pm

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Tim Berens’ multi-faceted career gives testament to his lifelong quest to learn, perform and write music. So far, his venture has led him through the worlds of classical guitar, jazz guitar, orchestral guitar, arranging, orchestration, and conducting.

During his years as the guitarist for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Tim played guitar, banjo, mandolin and bouzouki on concerts, recordings, television programs, and tours. Beginning in the late 1990’s, Tim began arranging for the CPO, eventually becoming the orchestra’s principal arranger.

Tim’s arrangements caught the ears of others and he began receiving commissions from many leading conductors and major orchestras. His arrangements are performed hundreds of times per year by orchestras throughout the United States and abroad, in venues from Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center to the Hollywood Bowl. Tim’s arrangements receive praise from conductors, musicians, librarians, management, and listeners.

In 2010, the desire to continue learning led Tim to return to school to study conducting. Two intensive years later, he earned a Masters Degree in Orchestral Conducting. As he conducted the music of great composers like Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich, his studies of their scores enriched his skills as an orchestrator.

As a young student studying classical guitar at CCM, Tim took every opportunity to play jazz and other styles. This work prepared him well for the audition for the Cincinnati Pops. Over the following years, other orchestras began hiring Tim, and he performed with more than 20 orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. He played thousands of services for conductor Erich Kunzel.

Tim was featured as a soloist on many of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra’s concerts, recordings and television broadcasts, most notably when he transcribed the piano part from “Rhapsody in Blue” for guitar, then performed it with the CPO and other orchestras.

Throughout his professional career Tim has performed regularly at jazz clubs, releasing 4 jazz recordings on the Red Mark label under his own name along the way, and he has continued working as a classical guitarist, performing Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” to great acclaim. 

Tim’s most nerve wracking performance took place in 1975. Not even the duet he performed with Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall induced more gut-wrenching performance anxiety than his band’s performance of Smoke on the Water in the Van Buren Junior High School Talent Show.

Craig Wagner is recognized as one of the most versatile young guitarist on the scene today. He has been a featured performer at the Chet Atkin’s Society Guitar Festival in Nashville since 1995, a festival which has showcased such jazz luminaries as Martin Taylor, Fareed Haque, Jack Wilkins and even Max Roach. Craig has also played at The Great American Guitar Show in New York, sharing the stage with guitarist such as Jimmy Bruno, Howard Alden, Jack Wilkins, Paul Bollenback, Ron Affif, Russell Malone, Gene Bertoncini and bassist Michael Moore.

As a member of the Java Men, Craig has played at venues as large as Lollapolooza, as intimate as the Knitting Factory, and as sprawling as the New Orleans Jazz Festival where they shared the bill with acts such as Victor Wooten, the Charlie Hunter Trio, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Craig has been featured as a solo performer at the Kentucky Arts Council’s Master Musicians Festival and is a regular performer at the Nashville NAMM show. His work has been featured in publications such as Guitar Player, Guitar One, Acoustic Guitar, Just Jazz Guitar, 20th Century Guitar, Vintage Guitar, Keyboard Magazine, The Village Voice, Cadence, Spin, and many others.

Craig graduated from Bellarmine University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music in 1993. He has studied or taken master classes with Christopher Parkening, Jim Hall, Jimmy Raney, Tal Farlow, Attila Zoeller, Jack Wilkins, Howard Roberts, Gene Bertoncini, Cal Collins, Howard Alden and many others. In addition to his duties at the University of Louisville, Craig currently teaches at Steilberg String Instruments and for the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops.

Mel Bay’s “Master Anthology of Jazz Guitar Solos” features Craig’s solo on Spiders. He has also written articles for their “Guitar Sessions” which included recordings of his solo guitar work. He has recently completed several new finger-style guitar arrangements of jazz standards for a project in conjunction with Warner Bros and Mel Bay. In 1998 he released an instructional/performance video for Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop video series whose impressive catalog features rare archival footage Alan Lomax’s American Patchwork Series for The Smithsonian Institution, performances by Wes Montgomery and lessons by Joe Pass, Larry Coryell, Martin Taylor and many other jazz greats.

Craig’s recording career includes Letter to St Paul (1994), Void (1999) and Orbituary (2000) with the Java Men. Recordings by the Java Men stay in regular rotation on many college and NPR stations around the country. He also has a solo recording, Color of a Mirror (1999). Craig has endorsements with luthier John Buscarino and Thomastik-Infeld String Company of Austria.


On the Town: Three Dance Episodes
The Great Lover
Lonely Town: Pas de deux
Times Square: 1944
Rhapsody in Blue Gershin
Caravan Tizol
Spain Corea
Blackbird McCartney
Birdland Zawinul