Dr. Emre Sabuncuoglu has established himself as one of the most gifted and versatile musicians of his generation. His broad academic background in both mathematics and music theory, as well as his wide-ranging musical interests, have led him in many different directions, carving out a multi-faceted career with specialties in performance, teaching, ethnomusicology, research, and composition.
Born in Ankara, Turkey, he took lessons from the internationally-acclaimed Turkish classical guitarist Ahmet Kanneci at Hacettepe University State Conservatory and joined several master classes of Paul Galbraith, Eliot Fisk, Jorge Cardoso, Javier Hinojosa, and Hiroki Terashima.
Emre’s work has won many prestigious awards. In 1992, Emre won first prize in the nineteenth Arthez de Bearn International Guitar Competition (Pau, France). Four years later, he won first prize in the first Antonio Lauro Classical Guitar Competition, held in his hometown of Ankara, Turkey.
He has performed in South America, Europe, Mexico, Turkey and the USA. In his travels, he has shared the stage with some of the world’s leading guitarists, including Rodrigo Riera, Alirio Diaz, Roland Dyens, Hopkinson Smith, Ernesto Bitetti, Luiz Zea, and Aquiles Baez.
A gifted mathematician as well as a musician, Emre received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at Middle East Technical University, specializing in universal algebra and lattice theory. From 1998 to 2000, he worked with his advisor, the mathematician and composer Andreas Tiefenbach, earning his Master of Science degree in mathematics.
Emre holds a Master of Music degree, magna cum laude, from New England Conservatory in Boston, where he was a student of guitarist and composer David Leisner. He also studied composition with Michael Gandolfi and David Leisner.
In February 2005, the Young Guru Academy selected Emre to participate in its inaugural USA Leadership Camp. The Young Guru Academy, whose mission is “to select, educate, train, and inspire creative, innovative, and socially responsible leaders,” selects young people of Turkish descent to participate in its annual leadership camp for the purpose of sharpening their leadership skills, igniting their creativity, and inspiring them to seek ways in which they can use their gifts to benefit their communities and the world.
In 2006, he completed his doctorate (Doctor of Musical Arts) at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music as a student of James F. Smith. As an Andrés Segovia Endowed Music Scholarship recipient, he pursued doctoral minors in the areas of music theory, ethnomusicology, Flamenco guitar, and studio guitar. During this time, he also studied performance with the legendary guitarist Pepe Romero. His doctoral dissertation, Mathematical Music Theory: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Major Theoretical Models of the Twentieth Century, explored in depth the relationship between music and mathematics.
In 2009, he launched Los Angeles Guitar Academy‘s online division, LAGA Online. As a teacher, his warm style of relating to others helps him reach out to a diverse student population. He incorporates visual, kinesthetic, and auditory cues to accommodate each student’s distinctive learning style. Emphasizing his students’ strengths, Emre has helped even struggling learners to achieve a high degree of proficiency on the guitar. Though Emre has currently retired his teaching practice, he stays active contributing to the classical guitar repertoire through his arrangements and compositions.
He also enjoys judging guitar competitions – allowing him to stay active and connected in the guitar community. He has served on the jury at the Donald Miller concerto competition, and most recently, at the ASTA (American String Teachers Association) National Competition.
“The artistry of Emre Sabuncuoglu goes far beyond his superb instrumental command. His sensibility to stylistic nuance is refined and natural; his renditions of Bartok are world-class.”
–Scott Tennant, founding member of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
“Outstanding . . . Very original programming . . . deeply musical playing.”
–James F. Smith, chair, Classical Guitar Department, University of Southern California
“Very balanced, voluminous, uniquely personal.”
–Savas Çekirge, Antonio Lauro Biannual Competition
“Emre’s crisp and clean tone projects his well-developed musicality.”
–Colin Cooper, Classical Guitar Magazine
“Emre’s natural talent as a musician, developed at a high technical level, and enriched with his warm musicality, makes him one of the most important of the new generation of the Turkish guitarists.”
–Luis Ochoa, guitarist
“Emre played his ambitious program with technical certainty and a colourful interpretation, with professionalism.”
–Manfred Hecker, Staccato Magazine
“For the first time a Turkish guitarist, representing the highly educated, hardworking, talented young generation of Turkish musicians, shared the Latin American stages with maestros Anton Garcia, Rodrigo Riera, Alirio Diaz, Roland Dyens, Leo Brouwer, Hopkinson Smith, and Ernesto Bitetti.”
–Ramon Delgado, Venezuelan Ambassador to Turkey
“One of the highly educated and talented Turkish musicians of this generation in the U.S.”
–USA Turkish Times
“Guitar prodigy to perform in Ankara.”
–Turkish Daily News