Contemporanea Guitar DuoThe Contemporanea Guitar Duo, a collaboration between guitarists Isabella Abbonizio and John Olson, is dedicated to performing vibrant and engaging contemporary repertoire for two guitars, with an emphasis on twentieth- and twenty-first century European music. They also have an interest in early music, and much of their original approach resides in their attentive research into connections between composers from distant times. They met as members of the New York City Guitar Orchestra, and had their debut performance as a duo in 2011.

Isabella Abbonizio, guitarIsabella Abbonizio is an Italian guitarist and musicologist. She has studied guitar with Griselda Ponce De León, and performed in masterclasses with Piero Bonaguri, Roland Dyens, Frédéric Zigante, Martha Masters, and João Luiz of the Brasil Guitar Duo. Deeply passionate about the history and theory of music, she also studied musicology, and in 2010 earned a Ph.D. from the University of Rome.

As a guitarist, Isabella performs as a soloist and in chamber ensembles, including the Contemporanea Guitar Duo and the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet. Her repertoire is particularly focused on twentieth and twenty-first century music, and she has premiered a number of new works for guitar. Active as a guitar teacher, Isabella has taught for more than ten years in public and private schools. Currently she is on the faculty of The Harlem School of the Arts. Also a guitar promoter, she is the North American correspondent for the Italian magazine GuitArt.

As a musicologist, Isabella’s interests focus on Italian and French twentieth-century music, music and politics, and colonial/postcolonial sudies. She is the author of the first extensive study of the guitar music of Maurice Ohana, which was published in the journal Il Fronimo. She publishes in academic journals and presents at international musicological conferences, including the International Musicological Society. She presents her research at academic and cultural institutions, including New York University and the New York City Classical Guitar Society. From 2007 to 2010, Isabella was Lecturer at the RomaTre University. In New York City, she is a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, where she is developing her post-doctoral research on Italian music and colonialism.

John Olson, guitarJohn Olson is an American guitarist, scientist, and music promoter. As a guitarist, he performs in several ensembles, including the Contemporanea Guitar Duo with Isabella Abbonizio, the Olson/De Cari Duo with soprano Gioia De Cari, and the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet. He has served as section leader and soloist with the New York City Guitar Orchestra. Committed to the generation of new music, John has commissioned over twenty new works. He has studied guitar with David Leisner and Benjamin Verdery and baroque performance practice with organists Rick Erickson and Rodney Gehrke. He has performed in guitar masterclasses with Ben Verdery, William Kanengiser, Raphaella Smits, and others. He has released a CD, Quiet Songs, with the Olson/De Cari Duo that contains baroque and twentieth-century music for solo guitar and guitar and voice.

Since 2007, John has served as President of the New York City Classical Guitar Society. John has revitalized the organization and made it a thriving and central part of the city’s guitar community. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Guitar Foundation of America, the largest organization in the United States devoted to the classical guitar. He has organized a series of Guitar Society Summits for leaders of similar organizations, and has led panel discussions on arts administration and career management at the GFA Convention and the Yale Guitar Extravaganza.

Also a respected scientist, John received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has performed research for over twenty years in academic and industrial settings. He is dedicated to bridging the worlds of science and music through his Science/Music Commissioning Project, which seeks to expand the repertoire for guitar and voice and explore connections between science and music through song.

Photos by Roberto Pieraccini