Sharon Isbin: Celebrating Musical Diversity and Guitar Mastery

by Madonna

Sharon Isbin, the internationally renowned classical guitarist, stands out as a remarkable figure in the world of music. With multiple Grammy Awards, Billboard chart-topping albums, and a career marked by virtuosity, Isbin is far from your average classical guitarist. Her journey through the world of classical and beyond has been a testament to her boundless passion for music.

Isbin’s illustrious career includes numerous recordings, encompassing both traditional and modern classical guitar repertoires. Her catalog boasts nine compositions specifically penned for her, a testament to her profound influence in the world of classical music. She has graced hundreds of performances alongside leading orchestras and ensembles, captivating audiences in renowned venues across the globe.


However, Isbin’s love for music transcends the confines of classical tradition. She has delved into diverse musical traditions, showcasing her versatile talent. For instance, her 1999 album “Dreams of a World” explored an array of folk music from across the globe, while her 2009 release, “Journey to the New World,” bridged the realms of British Isles and American folk music. Both these albums were honored with Grammy Awards, reinforcing her remarkable ability to cross musical boundaries.


Isbin’s latest release, “Sharon Isbin & Friends: Guitar Passions,” takes listeners on a Latin-themed guitar journey. Collaborating with electric guitarists Stanley Jordan, Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Nancy Wilson, Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo, percussionist Gaudencio Thiago de Mello, soprano saxophonist Paul Winter, and vocalist Rosa Passos, the album is a fusion of talents from various musical realms.


Isbin explains, “Guitar Passions is a guitar tribute album with a Latin theme. It brings together both contemporary musical figures and those who have played pivotal roles in my past, such as Joaquin Rodrigo, and the late Laurindo Almeida. The common thread among us is our passion for the guitar.”

Of note is Isbin’s collaboration with esteemed guitarists Steve Morse, Steve Vai, and Stanley Jordan, who all contributed improvisational elements to the album. Isbin acknowledges the significance of improvisation in classical music’s earlier days, harking back to the era of composers like Bach, where it was an integral part of performance and composition.

Isbin emphasizes, “The ability to improvise is something that is a part of all of us, but when it’s developed to the fullest in artists like Steve Morse or Steve Vai, who can just create music on the spot, it’s truly something to marvel at.”

As a testament to her ongoing musical exploration, Isbin mentions her recent interactions with legendary guitarist Carlos Santana, indicating a forthcoming project that may involve improvisation—a new horizon for her in the world of music.

Isbin’s experience with improvisation underscores the potential that exists within the classical music realm. While fear may be a barrier for some classical musicians, the freedom and creativity it offers are increasingly being embraced.

Looking ahead, Isbin sees a bright future for classical music, marked by a liberating era where composers have the creative freedom to explore their inspirations without the constraints that once existed. The limitless potential for musical diversity and unpredictability in classical compositions hints at a thriving and innovative musical landscape.

In summary, Sharon Isbin’s illustrious career is an embodiment of musical diversity and her passion for the guitar. Her latest album, “Guitar Passions,” with its eclectic collaborations and improvisational elements, showcases the vitality and boundless potential of classical music in a rapidly evolving musical world.


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