The Lebanese-Brazilian musical community has historically been able to blend both Lebanese and Brazilian styles into their music, producing some exceptional pieces for all our senses to enjoy.
Lebanese-Brazilian musicians, singers, and composers have contributed some of Brazil’s most beautiful and intricate pieces of music throughout the years; whether through the voices of João Bosco, Fagner, Davi Sabbag, Almir Sater, and Wanderlea, or the musical stylings of Alok Petrillo.
Sergio Assad is one of these exceptional artists. Born into a musical family in the Brazilian city of Mococa, São Paulo, he began creating music for the guitar not long after he began playing the instrument. He is said to have learned Brazilian folk melodies from his father, a musician as well.
By age 14, he was arranging and writing original compositions for the guitar duo he had formed with his brother Odair. And at the age of 17, he and Odair began their studies under one of the most prominent and famous classical guitar teachers in Brazil at the time, Monina Tavora, a former disciple of Andrés Segovia.
Sergio later went on to study “Conducting and Musical Composition” at the Escola Nacional de Música in Rio de Janeiro and worked privately with the Brazilian composition teacher Esther Scliar.
Across the last twenty years, Assad has concentrated most of his efforts on building a repertoire for the guitar duo. He has expanded the possibilities of the two-guitar combination through his arrangements of Latin American music by composers such as Piazzolla, Villa Lobos, and Ginastera.
That in addition to Baroque and Modern music by Scarlatti, Rameau, Soler, Bach, Mompou, Ravel, Debussy, and Gershwin, among others.
Sergio has completed over 300 arrangements for Gidon Kremer, Dawn Upshaw, Yo Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, TrioConBrio, Iwao Furusawa, Paquito D’Rivera, Turtle Island String Quartet, L.A. Quartet, Luciana Souza, and Vancouver Cantata Singers.
As a composer, he has completed more than fifty works for guitar, many of which have become standards in the guitar repertoire. His “Aquarelle” for solo guitar was chosen as the required contemporary work for the 2002 Guitar Foundation of America Competition in Miami.
In 2007, he wrote the set piece for the 2008 Guitar Foundation of America Competition named Valsa de Outono.
His orchestral compositions include the ballet Scarecrow, the concerto Mikis for guitar and strings, Fantasia Carioca for two guitars, which he and Odair premiered with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1998, and a concerto for guitar quartet and orchestra, which was premiered by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet with the San Antonio Symphony in 2009.
They also include Interchange, the concerto Originis for violin, guitar duo, and orchestra, which was recorded live with the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, and the concerto Phases for guitar duo and orchestra, which was premiered in 2011 by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with the Assad Brothers as soloists.
He is currently on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and most recently worked on projects titled:
The Walls (2018) for guitar and guitar orchestra, which premiered in Bonn on April 22, 2018.
12 Colloquial Preludes for solo guitar (2018), dedicated to Ricardo Gallen; and
Seikilos Epitaph’s Fantasy for solo guitar (2018), dedicated to Thanos Mitsalas.
Assad received his Latin Grammy Award in 2008 for his compositions for two guitars, Tahhiyya Li Ossoulina, which translates into: A Salute to Our Roots.
He was also nominated for the award twice in 2010 for his compositions Interchange and Maracaípe, both pieces for guitar duo. His sister Badi Assad is also a guitarist, and so is his daughter Clarice Assad, who also sings and composes.