Apostolos Paraskevas

Greek-American composer and guitarist. After his undergraduate music studies in Volos he pursued advanced studies in classical guitar with Costas Cotsiolis (diploma, 1990) and Leo Brouwer (Havana 1988–9), as well as postgraduate studies in composition with Lukas Foss and Theodore Antoniou (DMA in composition, Boston University, 1998). Paraskevas embarked on a successful career as a guitar soloist and contemporary composer, achieving distinctions in both disciplines: Grammy nomination for Chase Dance (Bridge Records, 1999); first prize for Night Wanderings (Lukas Foss Composition Competition, 2000); first prize for Phygein Adynaton (National Composers Conference, 1997); and numerous prestigious commissions, performances, and publications. Following teaching posts at Northeastern and Boston Universities, Paraskevas has taught since 2001 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston (professor of composition and classical guitar). Although he was struck by focal hand dystonia in 2009, he recovered in 2013 after reconstructing his playing technique.

A considerable part of Paraskevas’s compositional corpus focuses on the classical guitar (solo pieces, ensembles, concertos) and features compelling and inventive idiomatic writing for the instrument. His eclectic compositional style arises as an idiosyncratic integration of seemingly conflicting influences – from avant-garde approaches to harmonic structure, form, and timbre, to pop-folk modal and rhythmical concepts – amalgamated into a personal evocative musical language, characterized by rhythmic verve, melodic grace, dramatic (and sometimes unexpectedly humorous) gestures, and ritualistic or theatrical elements. The latter feature has also led Paraskevas to the creation of films, notably the acclaimed I Finally Did It (Gold award, California Film Awards 2010), dealing wittily with Death, a recurring extra-musical theme in his music.

Publishers: Bèrben (Ancona, Italy), Clear Note (USA), Santerelle/Allegra Musikverlag (Erzhausen, Germany), Papagrigoriou-Nakas (Athens, Greece), Centaur Records, Bridge Records (USA). (From Grove Dictionary)

Photo credit by Mat Tucciarone