With imagination, artistry, and musical mastery, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet has made its case as “one of the major guitar ensembles in the world” (Soundboard Magazine) since its formation in 1986. Through the foursome’s extraordinary and equally matched abilities, audiences experience performances with beautifully distinct voicing, interwoven clarity of lines, and laser-like purity. “More than a guitar quartet, more than superb musicians, and more than a great chamber group,” says composer/performer Daniel Bernard Roumain. “They are ambassadors of sound, style, and substance.”
One of the very few guitar ensembles performing the majority of its repertoire from memory, the MGQ presents original works and commissions as well as its own brilliant arrangements of music by such composers as Ginastera, Piazzolla, Debussy, and the Finnish folk-based music of Maria Kalaniemi. New arrangements showcase music by Jazz pianist Hiromi, Prince’s Purple Rain, and The Easy Beats’ Friday on My Mind. These ventures represent the quartet’s intention to bring its audiences distinctive and imaginative experiences such as collaborations with flamenco dancer Sachiko “La Chayí”—including Ben Abrahamason’s new Iberian Quartet—and Chinese pipa master Gao Hong. (sample programs)
The MGQ has performed in recital throughout major U.S. cities, and at Princeton University, the National Arts Center (Mexico City), Round Top International Guitar Festival, and at the Guitar Foundation of America Festival. Concerto appearances include the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Austin and Columbus symphonies. In March 2015, the quartet performed at the Guitar Art Festival in Belgrade, Serbia and was invited back to perform in the Summer Guitar Art Festival in Herceg Novi, Montenegro in 2016.
The guitar’s accessibility makes it a natural for the MGQ's programs like "Guitar Talk" and its new hands-on “Guitar Ensemble Crash Course.” As sought-after teachers and collegiate faculty members, they conduct frequent master classes and workshops. The MGQ has been heard on national radio programs and on the Albany, GSP, and innova labels.
Photo by Leslie Shank
Serbian-born Maja Radovanlija has performed extensively as an international solo and chamber musician, touring Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Macedonia, Greece, Tunisia, Switzerland, and other European countries. She joined the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet in 2012, bringing an eclectic musical background including performances with Mu Daiko Japanese Theater and improvised concerts with guitarist/composer Alex Lubet, as well as participating in workshops led by famous jazz musician Vojin Draskoci. Maja was awarded First Prize at the International Competition for Classical Guitar in Kyustendil, Bulgaria. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Belgrade as a student of Prof. Srdjan Tosic. Maja came to the United States to study at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music where she received both her master’s and doctoral degrees under Ernesto Bitetti, as well as studying early music with lutenist Nigel North. Maja won Second Prize in Indiana University’s Annual Competition in the Performance of Music from Spain and Latin America. In 2011 Maja was appointed to the guitar faculty at the University of Minnesota School of Music. Visit her website: www.majaradovanlija.net
Born in Mankato, Minnesota, Benjamin Kunkel has the distinction of being the newest member— and the first native Minnesotan—of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. Benjamin is an active solo and chamber musician, appearing in concert across the United States, frequently collaborating with the acclaimed Minneapolis-based choral group, The Mirandola Ensemble. Recently, he has been featured with the Minnesota Guitar Society, Cleveland Classical Guitar Society, Cleveland Composers Guild, Greater Cleveland Flute Society, Heights Arts, and Chamber Music Midwest. Benjamin is a passionate advocate of new music and works closely with composers to premiere their works and expand the classical guitar’s repertoire. Benjamin earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota and his Master of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with renowned guitarists Jeffrey Van and Jason Vieaux, respectively. At CIM, he twice was awarded the Rosalia Ablan Memorial Prize in Guitar. A dedicated teacher, he is currently on the faculty of Century College and St. Joseph's School of Music.
A passionate performer, composer, arranger, and teacher, Wade Oden was born in Lubbock, Texas and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has performed widely as part of the Voce y Cuerdas duo in varied repertoire including music of Brazil, Hawaii, Spain, and Italy, as well as in new works by composers Chris Gable, Libby Larsen, Carol Barnett and Todd Harper. In 2008, Wade toured with The Rose Ensemble vocal group—performing sacred and secular music—to the Festival d’Ile de France. This performance was recorded and broadcast on Radio France. Wade’s composition Aquam Effunde for piano, bass clarinet and marimba won First Prize in the 2005 Eric Stokes Song Contest. In 2003 and 2006, as director of the Space Station Alpha experimental pop ensemble, he released Love Songs for Andromeda and fLora. Wade is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Guitar Performance at the University of Minnesota, where he also received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Wade’s guitar teachers include O. Nicholas Raths, James McGuire and Jeffrey Van. He currently directs the guitar program at Normandale Community College where he has premiered many arrangements and original compositions for the Normandale Guitar Ensemble.
As one of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet’s founding members, Joseph Hagedorn has largely been responsible for the growth and development of this ensemble since its inception in 1986. His gift for arranging has produced dozens of musical opportunities for the MGQ, from the sought-after Windy by Piazzolla and Danzas Argentinas by Ginastera to the recent arrangements of jazz and pop music by Hiromi and Prince. He also performs on all of the group’s five recordings. Joseph’s solo and concerto appearances have taken him to more than 25 American cities and to Canada. He has been heard twice on the nationally broadcast radio program Saint Paul Sunday, once with the MGQ and again with violinist Leslie Shank. In 1990, Joseph was the winner of the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America solo competition, resulting in a national concert tour. This native Iowan received his Bachelor of Music degree from Cornell College and his Master of Music degree from the University of Minnesota. Joseph was a student of Richard Stratton, Christopher Carrington, Nelson Amos, and Jeffrey Van. He has been on the music faculty of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls since 1988.