Q&A with the Director of LMU’s Guitar Program

Assistant Professor Michael Miranda coordinates the instrumental music program at LMU, teaches music history and directs the LMU Guitar Ensembles. Along with Clinical Professor Martha Masters, he began the annual LMU Guitar Festival in 2004. The festival includes master classes and performances by some of today’s most renowned guitarists. He also performs as a soloist on a variety of early plucked-string instruments including Renaissance and Baroque lutes and guitars, vihuela, and theorbo. He is associate editor of the Journal of the Lute Society of America and serves on the board of directors for the Lute Society. Read more.

How has the LMU Guitar Festival grown in its 10 years?
The festival has grown in the actual number of attendees, and has helped establish an important community of guitar enthusiasts centered around LMU.

Is there an emblematic aspect to the festival that stands out?
For me, the most emblematic aspect of the festival has been the Young Artist’s Showcase. Each year we invite festival participants of all ages and levels of study, both soloists and ensembles from across the country, to perform in this afternoon concert. In the last ten years, I’ve witnessed amazing growth in the level of performer in this event.

Has the Guitar Festival influenced the guitar program at LMU?
The Guitar Festival has helped present LMU’s Department of Music as a viable and inviting place to study guitar. We have had several music majors here at LMU whose exposure to the university came through attending the festival. For our current students, access to festival performers, and interaction with a wide cross section of the guitar community, has been an invaluable learning experience that reaches beyond the classroom.

In addition, there is the Guitar Concert and Masterclass Series, right?
Yes, the LMU Guitar Concert & Masterclass Series presents two concerts each year. These concerts are typically followed by master classes that provide an opportunity for LMU guitarists to study one-to-one with renowned classical guitarists from around the world. Most recently, one of the two concerts has begun to feature experts in historical plucked strings that predate the guitar (lutes, Baroque guitar, etc.).

What have LMU guitar students gone on to do?
Several of our students have gone on to master’s and doctoral degree programs at a variety of prestigious universities. Many are teaching, performing, recording and involved in the multitude of tasks that are required of professional musicians. One of our prized former LMU students, USC doctoral candidate Ricardo Escobar, will be returning to perform at our upcoming 2014 Guitar Festival.

What is the advantage to LMU’s relatively smaller guitar program?
An important advantage is close and personal interaction with our faculty. Another is the ability to create a strong, supportive community of student guitarists at LMU, something often difficult to build in larger, more competitive schools.

Does the LMU program have interactions with the program at USC?
Not on an “official” level, however there is quite a bit of interaction with USC’s guitar program in that some of our graduates are currently studying there. LMU students frequently attend guitar events at USC, and USC students are regulars at our concerts and festival.

How long have you been teaching guitar?
I began the guitar program at LMU in the 1980’s as a part-time instructor. Our current guitar instructor, Clinical Professor Martha Masters, has been teaching LMU’s guitar students since 2002. Martha is an internationally recognized and acclaimed performer and recording artist. Her presence here at LMU has been a major catalyst for the growth of the guitar program in recent years.

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