Guitar virtuoso Sharon Isbin has championed new music Music: Composers respect Isbin, who has expanded the repertory of the instrument since she began playing at 17.


Guitarist Sharon Isbin has been famous so long it comes as something of a shock to realize she's only 41. But that's what happens when you become famous at the precocious age of 17. When fame often seems to be limited to a matter of minutes, a quarter-century of it is nearly an eternity.

But Isbin has not merely achieved fame, she's earned the love of those hard-to-please creatures known as composers. They love her because she is among the few virtuosos who is as interested in new music as the classics. In fact, she has probably done more than any guitarist, including the legendary Andres Segovia, to expand that beautiful, but once-neglected, instrument's repertory.

She has commissioned and recorded concertos by Lukas Foss, John Corigliano and Lukas Foss and chamber-music pieces by Aaron Jay Kernis and Joan Tower. Composer Joaquin Rodrigo called her performance of his popular "Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra" a "magnificent interpretation." And it is said that he actually preferred Isbin's performance to that of his friend (and the concerto's dedicatee), Segovia.

Baltimore music lovers can find out why for themselves tomorrow night at 8, when Isbin performs the Rodrigo concerto with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and its music director, Anne Harrigan, at Kraushaar Auditorium on the Goucher College campus, Towson.

A performance by Harrigan and the orchestra of Astor Piazolla's ear-sizzling "Tangazo" will precede the concerto; the program will close with history's number one, top-selling classical hit, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.

Tickets are priced at $21 general admission, $16 seniors/students, $8 children 12 and under. For information call 410-998-1022.

Pub Date: 5/12/98

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