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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.

sergio-odair-assadTheir exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble playing come from both a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and from studies with the guitar/lutenist Monina Távora (1921-2011), 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 Assad is adding to their repertoire by composing music for the duo and for various musical partners both with Symphony Orchestra and in recitals. They 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 the 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. Odair is based in Brussels where he teaches at Ecole Supérieure des Arts. Sérgio resides in San Francisco, where he is on the faculty of the SF Conservatory.

The Assad’s repertoire includes original music composed by Sérgio Assad and his re-workings of folk and jazz music as well as Latin music of almost every style. Their standard classical repertoire includes transcriptions of the great Baroque keyboard literature of Bach, Rameau and Scarlatti and 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 also recognized as prolific recording artists, primarily for the Nonesuch and GHA labels. In 2001, Nonesuch Records released “Sérgio and Odair Assad Play Piazzolla,” which later won a Latin Grammy. Their seventh Nonesuch recording, released in the fall 2007, is called “Jardim Abandonado” 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, “Tahhiyya Li Oussilina.”

A Nonesuch collaboration with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg in 2000 featured a collection of pieces based on traditional and Gypsy folk tunes from around the world. In 2003, Sérgio Assad wrote a triple concerto for this trio that has been performed with the orchestras of São Paulo, Seattle and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  In the summer of 2004, Sérgio & Odair arranged a very special tour featuring three generations of the Assad Family. The family presented a wide variety of Brazilian music featuring their father, Jorge Assad [1924-2011] on the mandolin and the voice of mother, Angelina Assad. GHA Records has released a live recording and a DVD of the Assad Family live at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts.  In the 2006-2007 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 toured a project entitled “De Volta as Raizes” (Back to Our Roots) featuring Lebanese-American singer Christiane Karam, percussionist Jamey Haddad and composer/pianist Clarice Assad.

In February 2011, Odair Assad performed his first solo guitar concert tour in North America featuring concerts in New York and Montreal. Sergio Assad has written another concerto for his duo, called “Phases.”  It was premiered with the Seattle Symphony in February 2011. In the meantime he has been nominated for yet two more Latin Classical Grammys in the Best Classical Composition Category for his piece for the LA Guitar Quartet and the Delaware Symphony entitled, “Interchange” and for “Maracaipe” for the Beijing Guitar Duo.  In the fall of 2011, five of the members of the Assad family: Sergio, Odair, Badi, Clarice and Carolina – joined together again for another evening of new and favorite Brazilian works.  Their tour included stops in Qatar, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands (to open the “Brazil Festival”) at The Amsterdam Concertgebouw and three concerts in Belgium with a finale at Le Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels.

The Assad Brothers collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma is ongoing. In 2003 the Brazilian record “Obrigado Brazil” was released featuring Rosa Passos, Egberto Gismonti and Cyro Baptista. Sérgio arranged several of the works on the disc, which captured a Grammy in 2004.  In 2009, the brothers were featured on Yo-Yo Ma’s chart topping release, “Songs of Joy & Peace,” which features other guest artists as diverse as James Taylor and Dave Brubeck.  In the piece “Família” Yo-Yo plays Sérgio’s composition featuring mother, Angelina Assad, sister Badi and children Clarice, Rodrigo and Carolina.  The release topped both the classical and the mainstream Billboard charts and won a Grammy for Best Classical Crossover.  In April 2012, Sergio and Odair toured North America with Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, in a program of Latin American works as arranged by Sergio as well as some of his original compositions, highlighted by concerts at the new Smith Center in Las Vegas and Chicago’s Symphony Hall.

In October of 2012, Sérgio and Odair premiered a performance of a new duo guitar concerto written for them by Sergio’s daughter Clarice Assad, at the Pro-Musica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio.  Soon after, the brothers returned to the University of Arizona in Tucson as visiting artists with support from the D’Addario Family Foundation.  They headlined the 4th International Tucson Guitar Festival with two performances at Holsclaw Hall and master classes for advanced guitar students.  In the spring of 2013, Sergio and Odair planned another tour of their much loved trio with the inimitable Paquito D’Rivera as well as a record release of their project, “Dances from the New World.” In 2014, the brothers began a Brazilian Tour that celebrates 50 years of their career. In 2015, the tour continues, spanning a total of 27 Brazilian cities.

A kind of wizardry lies within the playing of Sergio and Odair Assad… they produce a supple, flawless unified sound. – The New York Times

Because they have been performing together for most of their lives, and because they play from memory, there is a lively interaction between them that creates the impression that they are improvising like a couple of virtuosic, perhaps even telepathic, jazz players. – The New York Times

… the best two-guitar team in existence, maybe even in history… no amount of anticipation could have prepared me for the Brazilian brothers’ daringly flexible, eerily unanimous ensemble playing. – The Washington Post

As performers, these two play like the close brothers they are. They pick up instantly on the other’s cues, respond as if intuitively and seem to be wired in to the same operating system. What’s projected is a sort of ‘ëuber-guitar,’ two instruments and one brain. – The Washington Post

Call it one of the most engaging musical presentations of the season. Better yet, call it a stunning display of the music of the Western Hemisphere. – The Los Angeles Times

They aren’t just soloists but a two-man, multi voice band of soloists who play instinctively well together, with consistent rhythmic intuition and soul. – The Los Angeles Times

The Assads’ virtuosity left the many guitarists in the crowd, including me, awe-struck. Their speed, their gorgeous tone, their uncanny musical memories (not a page of music appeared on the stage), and their ability to play thousands of notes without a single clinker, click or buzz are the stuff of guitar gods…an inspiring concert that celebrated the swooping energy of musical phrases and the irresistible beauty of the sound of two guitars – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

…Sergio and Odair, two of the finest guitarists on the planet. – Journal Sentinel

The Brazilian-born Assad brothers…perform with almost telepathic unity – The Boston Globe

Throughout the concert, the brothers played as one… This was two persons, four hands, one mind. – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

…it’s not hard to imagine that acoustic guitar music, when in the hands of masters like Sergio and Odair Assad, is a musical window into the heart. – The New Jersey Star- Ledger


By Benjamin Verdery

It’s January 23, 1980. The phone rings. I pick it up only to hear my downstairs neighbor and dear friend Tom Humphrey’s voice.

Tom: Hey, you gotta come down now and hear these guys.
Me: Who?? I’m practicing, I’ll be down in a bit.
Tom: No, no, no, no, no …… Stop what you are doing and get down here, now!

Tom was on a path to becoming one the most celebrated guitar makers of his generation and of the world in general. His apartment, 120 West 72nd Street, #2C, had became a vortex for all things related to the classical guitar.

The Assad brothers had just arrived in New York to give their American debut at 92nd Street Y as part of the wonderful Classical Guitar at the Y series, sponsored by Augustine Strings. So it was a given that the Assad Brothers would visit Tom. In fact, Sérgio and Odair went on to record and perform throughout the world on Tom’s guitars as well as becoming very dear friends with him and his family.

I went down three flights to Tom apartment, as I lived above him in #5C. I entered, and there were the Brazilian brothers on the couch, each with one of Tom’s latest creations in their hands. Within no time they began to play Leo Brouwer’s Micropiezas from memory.

From that point on, my entire concept of the guitar’s sound, articulation expressivity and repertoire was turned upside down. I had never heard the classical guitar played in this brilliant manner and certainly never heard a duo remotely on the level of virtuosity and artistry they displayed.

The following evening was the actual 92Y concert. In short it was a game changer for all who attended. The audience and we guitarists in general experienced a concert the likes of which we had never before heard. All were completely inspired by the vitality and commitment they gave to the music.

Even The New York Times agreed, writing in its review that “…they play like twins, with an ensemble that is virtually perfect. And their technique is a marvel.” The Assads singlehandedly went on to make the concept of a guitar duo as a viable concert attraction in a way it had never been. All duos that have arrived since are in some way directly influenced by their life’s work.

The name Assad has become synonymous with the names of Segovia, Bream, Williams and Romero. Sérgio has become the most influential guitar composer since Leo Brouwer. Odair rapidly distinguished himself as one of the greatest virtuosi of his or any generation.

Together, they completely changed the landscape of the classical guitar and its repertoire. In addition to their playing, Sérgio and Odair are two of the warmest and most generous people any one could know. In a word, they are beloved. It is a great honor for all of us here at 92Y to present this concert celebrating their 50 years of concertizing. We can only bow to them and say a huge thank you for all the music they have given us. We do however have one request. Please brothers Assad, give us another 50 years at least!!

– Benjamin Verdery is artistic director of the 92Y Art of the Guitar series and chair of the guitar department at the Yale School of Music.



Os irmãos brasileiros Sérgio e Odair Assad são considerados uma referência unânime para os violonistas, criando um padrão de inovação para o violão com geniosidade e expressão.

Sua origem artística e performance inquietante vêm de uma família rica em tradição musical brasileira e de estudos com a violonista/lutenista Monina Távora (1921-2011), uma discípula de Andrés Segovia. Além de estabelecer novos padrões de interpretação, os Assad influenciaram vastamente na criação e introdução de novas músicas para dois violões. Sua incontestável virtuosidade inspirou uma ampla gama de compositores a escreverem músicas especialmente para os dois: Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Marlos Nobre, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens, Jorge Morel, Edino Krieger e Francisco Mignone.

Atualmente, Sérgio Assad está acresentando ao seu repertório, compondo música para o Duo e para vários parceiros musicais, ambos com Orquestra Sinfônica e em recitais. O Duo tem trabalhado extensivamente com artistas renomados como Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg, Fernandao Suarez Paz, Paquito D’Rivera, Gidon Kremer e Dawn Upshaw.

O Duo começou a tocar violão muito cedo e prosseguiram seus estudos durante sete anos com a Dona Monina. Sua carreira internacional começou com um prêmio importante, o Young Artists Competition, em Bratislava em 1979. Odair é baseado em Bruxelas, onde ele é professor na Ecole Supérieure des Arts. Sérgio reside em São Francisco, onde ele ensina na SF Conservatory.

O repertório dos Assad inclui composições originais de Sérgio, fora seus arranjos de músicas folclóricas, jazz e música latina. Seu repertório clássico inclui transcrições da grande literatura de teclado barroco de Bach, Rameau e Scarlatti, e adaptações de peças de diversas figuras como Gershwin, Ginastera e Debussy. Seus programas de turnês são sempre uma cativante mistura de estilos, períodos e culturas.

Eles também são reconhecidos como artístas prolíficos, principalmente para as gravadoras Nonesuch e GHA. Em 2001, a Nonesuch lançou “Sérgio and Odair Assad Play Piazzolla,” que mais tarde ganhou um Grammy Latino. Sua sétima gravação pela Nonesuch é entitulado “Jardim Abandonado” (2007), título de uma música de Antônio Carlos Jobim. Este disco foi  indicado para o Grammy Latino na categoria Melhor Álbum Clássico, onde Sérgio ganhou o prêmio de Melhor Compositor pela sua música “Tahhiyya Li Ossoulina.”

Uma colaboração pela Nonesuch com a Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg em 2000 apresentou uma coleção de peças baseadas em músicas tradicionais, folclóricas e ciganas do mundo inteiro. Em 2003, Sérgio Assad compôs um triplo concerto para este trio que tem se apresentado com as orquestras de São Paulo, Seattle e a Saint Paul Orchestra. No verão de 2004, Sérgio e Odair prepararam uma turnê muito especial com três gerações da Família Assad. A família apresentou um vasto leque de estilos da música brasileira, e neste espetáculo destacaram-se os pais do Duo: Jorge Assad [1924-2011] no bandolim e Angelina Assad na voz. A GHA Records lançou uma gravação e DVD ao vivo no Palais de Bruxelas des Beaux-Arts. Na temporarada 2006-2007, o Duo apresentou o “Concierto Madrigal para Dois Violões” de Joaquim Rodrigo e o arranjo de Sérgio para “As Quatro Estações de Buenos Aires” de Astor Piazzolla com a Los Angeles Philharmonic no Hollywood Bowl. Os Assad também foram o destaque na trilha sonora de James Newton Howard para o filme “Duplicity,” estrelado por Julia Roberts e Clive Owen.

Nas temporadas de 2010-11 e 2011-12, os irmãos entraram em turnê com o projeto “De Volta as Raizes” com a cantora libanesa-americana Christiane Karam, o percussionista Jamey Haddad e compositora/pianista Clarice Assad. Em fevereiro de 2011, Odair Assad realizou sua primeira turnê de violão solo concerto na América do Norte, passando por Nova York e Montreal. Sérgio Assad compôs outro concerto para o Duo, entitulado “Phases,” que estreiou com a Seattle Symphony em fevereiro de 2011. Entretanto, ele foi indicado para mais dois Grammys Latinos na categoria de Melhor Composição Clássica para as composições “Interchange” (LA Guitar Quartet e Delaware Symphony) e “Maracaipe” (Beijing Guitar Duo). No outono de 2011, cinco membros da Família Assad se reuniram novamente: Sérgio, Odair, Badi, Clarice e Carolina – para mais uma noite de clássicos e novas obras brasileiras. A turnê passou pelo Qatar, Suécia, Alemanha, Holanda (para abrir o “Brazil Festival”) no Amsterdam Concertgebouw e três concertos na Bélgica, com o finale no Le Palais des Beaux Arts, em Bruxelas.

A colaboração entre o duo e o violoncelista Yo-Yo Ma continua. Em 2003, o disco “Obrigado Brazil” foi lançado apresentando Rosa Passos, Egberto Gismonti e Cyro Baptista. Sérgio fez arranjos de diversas músicas para este disco, que em 2004 faturou um Grammy. Uma turnê mundial seguiu, culminando em concertos ao vivo na abertura de Zankel Hall, do Carnegie Hall e o lançamento de um álbum ao vivo deste concerto pela Sony. Em 2009, os irmãos participaram do disco de Yo-Yo Ma, “Songs of Joy & Peace,” que foi um grande sucesso e também contou com outras participações de diveros artistas como James Taylor e Dave Brubeck. Na composição de Sérgio, “Família,” Yo-Yo Ma é acompanhado pelas vozes da Família Assad, representadas por Angelina (mãe dos irmãos Assad), ai rmã Badi, Clarice e Rodrigo (filhos de Sérgio) e Carolina (filha de Odair). A música foi ao topo da parada da Billboard e ganhou um Grammy para Melhor Classical Crossover. Em abril de 2012, Sérgio e Odair fizeram turnê norte-americana com o Yo-Yo Ma e a pianista Kathryn Stott, com um repertório latino-americano  arranjado por Sérgio como também suas próprias composições originais, com destaque para os concertos no novo Smith Center em Las Vegas e o Symphony Hall em Chicago.

Em outubro de 2012 na Pro-Music Chamber Orchestra em Columbus (Ohio), o Duo estreiou um novo concerto para dois violões, feito para eles por Clarice Assad, a filha de Sérgio. Logo depois, os irmãos voltaram a University of Arizona in Tucson como artistas visitantes com o apoio da D’Addario Family Foundation. Eles foram a atração principal do 4th International Tucson Guitar Festival com duas apresentações no Holsclaw Hall e master classes para estudantes de violão avançado. Na primavera de 2013, Sérgio e Odair planejaram uma outra turnê com o inimitável Paquito D’Rivera, assim como um lançamento de um disco do seu projeto “Dances from the New World.” Em 2014, os irmãos embarcam em uma turnê brasileira que comemora 50 anos de carreira. Em 2015, a turnê continua, culminando no total de 27 cidades brasileiras.

… o melhor duo de violão em existência, talvez até mesmo na história… nenhuma quantidade de antecipação poderia ter me preparado para o jeito deles de tocar: flexível, ousado, estranhamente unânime. – The Washington Post

O virtuosismo dos Assad deixou muitos violonistas na plateia, incluindo eu, espantados. Sua velocidade, seu tom deslumbrante, suas memórias musicais surpreendentes (nenhuma página de partitura aparareceu no palco) e sua capacidade de reproduzir milhares de notas sem fazer nenhum tinido, clique ou zumbido são as coisas dos deuses de violão… um concerto inspirador que celebrou a energia de frases musicais e a irresistível beleza do som de dois violões. – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Como artistas, estes dois tocam como os irmãos próximos que são. Eles captam instantaneamente os sinais do outro, respondem intuitivamente e parecem estar conectados ao mesmo sistema operacional. O que é projetado é um tipo de ‘ëuber-guitar,’ dois instrumentos e um cérebro. – The Washington Post

Chame-a uma das mais cativantes apresentações musicais da temporada. Melhor ainda, chame-a a mais esplêndida mostra da música do hemisfério ocidental. – The Los Angeles Times