Brazilian-born brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad have set the benchmark for all other guitarists by creating a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity, and expression. Their exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble playing come from both a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and from studies with the guitarist-lutenist Monina Távora, a disciple of Andrés Segovia. In addition to setting new performance standards, the Assads have played a major role in creating and introducing new music for two guitars. Their virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them including Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Marlos Nobre, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens, Jorge Morel, Edino Krieger, and Francisco Mignone. Now Sérgio is adding his own voice to that growing repertoire by composing works for the duo as well as for various musical partners both with symphony orchestra and in recitals. Sérgio and Odair have worked extensively with such renowned artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Fernando Suarez Paz, Paquito D’Rivera, Gidon Kremer, and Dawn Upshaw.
The Assads began playing guitar together at an early age and went on to study for seven years with Dona Monina. Their international career began with a major prize at the 1979 Young Artists Competition in Bratislava, Slovakia. Odair is now based in Brussels, where he teaches at Ecole Supérieure des Arts. Sérgio resides in San Francisco, where he is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory.
The Assad’s repertoire not only includes Sérgio’s original music but his reworkings of folk and jazz as well as Latin music of almost every style. The brothers’ standard classical offerings include transcriptions of the great Baroque keyboard literature of Bach, Rameau, and Scarlatti as well as adaptations of works by such diverse figures as Gershwin, Ginastera, and Debussy. Their touring programs are always a compelling blend of styles, periods, and cultures.
The Assads are recognized as prolific recording artists, primarily for the Nonesuch and GHA labels. In 2001 Nonesuch released Sérgio and Odair Assad Play Piazzolla (79632-2), which later won a Latin GRAMMY. Their seventh Nonesuch recording, released in fall 2007, is called Jardim Abandonado (278140-2) after a piece by Antonio Carlos Jobim. It was nominated for Best Classical Album and Sérgio went on to win the Latin Grammy for his composition Tahiiyya Li Oussilina.
In the summer of 2004 Sérgio and Odair arranged a very special tour featuring three generations of the Assad family, followed by the release of a live recording and DVD from their concert at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts (Sergio & Odair Assad and Their Family: A Brazilian Songbook, GHA126058). In the 2006-07 season the Assad Brothers performed Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal for two guitars and Sérgio’s arrangement of Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. The Assads were also featured performers on James Newton Howard’s soundtrack to the movie Duplicity, starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons the brothers joined the “De Volta as Raizes” (“Back to Our Roots”) tour, which featured Lebanese-American singer Christiane Karam, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and composer-pianist Clarice Assad.
In the meantime Sérgio has been nominated for two more L