Classical guitarist visits Wilton

Classical guitarist Ben Verdery will bring to the St. Matthew’s stage a series of original duets, compositions written by Chris Theofanidis and Ingram Marshall, and an original solo guitar piece featuring ethereal accompaniments of Pablo Neruda’s poetry. His performance will open this season of The Arts at St. Matthew’s on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 4 p.m.

Mr. Verdery’s set-list is characteristically diverse, indicative of his fearless experimentation across genres and his lifelong passion for all kinds of music.

For Mr. Verdery, his enduring love of music is deeply rooted in his childhood influences.

“I had one of those lightning bolt moments when I was about 7 and living in France,” he said. “My brother bought a Beatles record and I remember hearing it and it so electrified my body and mind, I couldn’t believe it.”

Two years later, when his family relocated to Connecticut, Mr. Verdery’s parents enrolled him in the Wooster School in Danbury, which he describes as a musical hub where students livened up the all-boy campus with the sounds of the guitar.

“It was in the air,” he said “What Instagram and computers are to kids today, that was what music was then.”

His musical taste ranged from 60s icons — James Brown, Aretha Franklin, the Kinks, and Sonny and Cher — to classical music. Singing in the choir at his father’s parish introduced him to organ music composed by Bach.

“I think that had a huge effect on me subliminally. The way I got into classical music was Bach — that was the gateway. In other words, it was not through Mozart,” he said laughing, “not even close.”

After high school, Mr. Verdery enrolled at SUNY Purchase, pursuing his passion for music upon graduation

He embarked on a promising career as a classical guitarist with an experimental, 60s-influenced twist, composing both original classical pieces and re-imagining the works of such childhood idols as Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Cream. His talent and innovation ultimately helped him to become chair of the guitar department at the Yale University School of Music.

Despite his commitment to academia, Mr. Verdery spends a great deal of time on the road. He has toured throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. However, one of his most memorable experiences was premiering the double concerto “Dark Florescence” with friend and Police guitarist Andy Summers in Carnegie Hall.

Information: Pete Balderston at info @artsatstmatthews.com or artsatstmatthews.org.