Imig Music Building
“One of Italy’s finest guitarists, a very active performer on the two shores of the Atlantic Ocean, a thoughtful musician and a wonderful pedagogue.” – Lorenzo Micheli, internationally renowned concert artist and master teacher
Italian guitarist Nicolò Spera brings to his teaching and performing a unique synthesis of European and American traditions. Spera is one of the few guitarists in the world to perform on both six-string and ten-string guitars, as well as on theorbo. His wide-ranging repertoire includes the extraordinary music of the Franco-Andalusian composer Maurice Ohana. He has given lecture-recitals on the music of Ohana at different institutions and festivals, including the Mediterranean Guitar Festival, Arizona State University, Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, San Francisco Conservatory, and the University of Surrey for the launch of the International Guitar Research Centre. His CD of Ohana’s complete works for solo guitar (Soundset Recordings), presenting the world première recording of Estelas, was awarded the 5-stars “Disco del mese” review by Seicorde, the major Italian classical guitar magazine, and it was described as “un disco di altissimo valore.” In 2017, the Anglo-Spanish label Contrastes Records presented Spera's recording of his transcriptions for the ten-string guitar of works by Catalan composers Federico Mompou and Enrique Granados.
With Soundset Recordings, Spera has also published his own transcriptions of Bach’s Cello Suites 4, 5, and 6, for the ten-string guitar. About this recording, cellist Judith Glyde wrote that “it is a refreshing, captivating perspective on these boundless works, and a breathtaking discovery of an unprecedented sound world.”
Spera is equally at home in outreach concerts for the young, masterclasses for all ages, solo recitals and concerti with orchestra. As a soloist, he has performed with conductors Andrés Cárdenes, Alejandro Gómez Guillén, Cynthia Katsarelis, and Leonardo Vordoni. About his performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, Robin McNeil wrote: “I have heard this piece performed several times, and the performance that Nicolò Spera gave was the best I have ever heard. First of all Spera is a virtuoso guitar player, and second, he is a superb musician.” (OpusColorado) In 2017, together with violinist Chas Wetherbee and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, he commissioned and performed the world premiere of Invisible Cities, a double concerto for guitar, violin, strings and percussion, written by the Welsh composer Steve Goss, who based this work on Italo Calvino’s visionary book.
He has won top prizes at several Italian and international competitions and is regularly invited to play in music festivals such as the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, the Tangents Guitar Series in San Francisco, the Mediterranean Guitar Festival in Italy, and the Sauble Beach Festival in Canada. Thanks to his passion for contemporary music, Spera had the privilege of collaborations with composers such as John Drumheller, Ryan Fiegl, and the accomplished Italian conductor Simone Fontanelli, giving premières and performances of their guitar works. Together with his CU colleagues, he has also given the US première of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Morning in Iowa, for guitar, banjo, accordion, clarinet, sax, double bass, percussion, and narrator: a unique musical fresco based on the homonymous poem by Robert Nathan.
A versatile chamber musician, in 2012 Spera co-founded the ensemble Duo Chagall with violinist Jenny Diaz. Previously, he worked on an unusual chamber music project with clarinetist Andrew Dykema, and together they performed the complete guitar and clarinet repertoire by the late Romantic Viennese composer Ferdinand Rebay.
His most influential teachers are Oscar Ghiglia, Jonathan Leathwood, and Lorenzo Micheli. Spera holds degrees from the Claudio Monteverdi Conservatory in Bolzano and the prestigious Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, an Artist Diploma in Guitar Performance at the University of Denver and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado Boulder.
In 2011, Spera was appointed to the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is Assistant Professor in the Ritter Family Classical Guitar Program. He is also on the faculty of the International Studies Institute at Palazzo Rucellai in Florence, Italy. In 2013, he founded the University of Colorado International Guitar Festival and Competition, an unprecedented event that attracts prestigious guests, guitar performers, and students from all over the world.