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Q & A with Elias Cottle

How old were you when you first started playing?

I began studying formally at age 15 with my father. I was fortunate enough to be born into a household of musicians. My mother is a singer, my father a singer and guitarist. This resulted in a childhood filled with a broad range of music spanning from classical to jazz, blues and rock. Growing up I enjoyed many long conversations over dinner regarding music theory, styles and history.

Where did you go to music school? What's your degree in? What did you study there?

I graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in Guitar Performance. At USM I extensively studied music history from the Renaissance to the 20th century, classical and jazz guitar, ear training, harmony, music theory, classical and contemporary composition, improvisation, arranging and pedagogy. I also participated in various ensembles including classical guitar quartets, bebop, fusion, big band, modern and free jazz.

What are your favorite kinds of music to play and why?

The more and more I study classical guitar, the more I fall in love with it. There's so much purity and beauty in it. I find that the preparation required for this style gives me the freedom, during performance, to have a more raw emotional experience. With that said, I am also extremely drawn to improvisational forms of music like jazz. My love for improv is incorporated into my student's lessons. The children are all very creative.

What are some of the musical styles you teach?

Being steeped in tradition, I'm able to teach my students a broad range of styles including the pop and rock music they love, jazz, blues and classical.

Where are some of the places you've performed?

I've performed in various clubs, restaurants and art galleries throughout New England. I've also traveled the country extensively as a "street performer".

Who are some of your favorite bands and musicians?

My listening habits tend to be a bit eccentric. Currently I am listening to Baden Powell, Bela Bartok, Bach, Freddie King, Son House, Pat Martino, Naseer Shama and Kendrick Lamar.

What are your other musical pursuits and accomplishments?

I have a deep love of the guitar as a solo instrument. I seek to explore and expand the limits of the guitar in this capacity by fusing european, middle eastern and indian classical music, jazz and other american musical styles into a cohesive style of my own. As a teacher there are few things I find as satisfying as helping my students find in themselves a love for music and artistic expression.

What are some of your artistic goals?

My primary artistic goal is to continue to make honest and expressive music that resonates with people and helps me more deeply explore and understand myself and the world around me. I also seek to do my part in keeping some of the great music of the past alive and integrated in the world around me.

Tell us about your sound clips:

1) "Electric Funk" is an original song I recorded in my father's studio. 2) "Allegro Solemne" is a beautiful piece written by a Paraguayan guitarist and composer by the name of Agustin Barrios and was inspired by the work of J.S. Bach. 3) "Yesterday" by the Beatles is a song that lends itself naturally to solo instrumental guitar. 4) "Fly Me to the Moon" is a jazz standard by Bart Howard with possibly the most famous recording featuring Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. In my full-length recording (only a section of which is featured here) I fuse traditional and modern jazz harmonic and improvisational concepts with shades of Andalusian guitar and Oud music. 5) "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" is one of Spanish classical guitars most famous pieces. It is written by Francisco Tarrega and is about a specific palace in Spain called Calat Alhambra which is filled with many ornamented fountains. The piece utilizes a technique called a tremolo in order to imitate the sound of water flowing in the aforementioned fountains without breaking the continuity of the melody.

219 Washington St, Wellesley, MA 02481