Classical guitar is not a genre that has seen much grandeur in the music world. When most people think of guitarists, they conjure up images of John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix or countless other rock legends that have graced the stages over the years. And while these men may be players that Greenwich House faculty member Rupert Boyd enjoys, they are a far cry from the heroes that have inspired him throughout the years. For Boyd, names like Andrés Segovia and Julian Bream are the masters that have served to motivate his path.Boyd is one of those musicians who picked up his instrument at a young age and never looked back. He recalls that within the same week, his older brother came home with a guitar and his elementary school asked him to pick an instrument to begin his music education at school. Twenty two years later, he can’t remember the last time his brother played and instead is the one who has developed into a musician who tours the world.
As Boyd says, “It’s not an easy career path, but there are so many rewards that come with it.” The fact that he can make his entire income “with guitar in hand” is a pretty special accomplishment. After a lifetime of playing, three degrees in music, two CDs and a number of international tours, his success is readily apparent.
One of the pinnacle moments that stands out in Boyd’s mind is his recent debut solo performance at Carnegie Hall, sponsored by the D’Addario Music Foundation. The sold out performance provided him the opportunity to play many pieces meaningful to him, in front of an audience of family, friends, peers and teachers, including the two men who rank among the most influential in his career: David Leisner, his teacher at the Manhattan School of Music, and Ben Verdery, who instructed him during his time at Yale University’s School of Music.
The Carnegie Hall performance may have been a shining moment for Boyd, but you can bet that there is more to come from him. “I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but always strive to be better,” Boyd said. Some ideas in the works include a new solo disc, as well as exploring work with a wider variety of instruments and voice parts. One thing that has remained consistent throughout Boyd’s career is his desire to push the envelope and expand the common thoughts about guitar and classical guitar. By playing in more unique settings, he hopes to expose people that might not otherwise be aware of the potential for guitar as a classical instrument.
Audiences, remarked Boyd, “tend to be personal affiliations or players and enthusiasts.” By exploring new venues for performance, he can help to expand appreciation for the craft. Boyd accounts a particular tour in the South of France where he played in tiny villages that averaged about seven residents each, and people from across the entire region flocked to the churches to hear the concerts.
However far his performing career may take him, Boyd will always return to teaching, where his goal is to emphasize the fun of music. “Enthusiasm can be transferred,” Boyd says, and it’s helped him to clarify his own perspective.
“To be able to teach,” he says, “one needs to be able to understand. I gain a lot from my students, and I also satisfy a feeling of obligation to give back. My teachers have been a crucial part of my success and this is a way to solidify the future.” With Boyd at Greenwich House, that future looks bright.