Hailed by NBC News for making “…the guitar sing like it was invented only to be in his hands,” native Oregonian Tye Austin (age 28) is an internationally acclaimed classical guitarist and composer based in New York City. Since picking up the instrument for the first time in 2007, he has performed solo at Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, the United Nations, US French Embassy, and the Boston State House. He’s also been interviewed by Psychology Today, The Boston Guardian, and live on National Public Radio’s Jefferson Music Exchange. Tye won first prize in the 2016 Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition, and the 2013 American Protege International Music Competition, among many others. He has performed with and/or opened for celebrity artists and Grammy-winners such as Bela Fleck, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sharon Isbin, and Eliot Fisk. The 2017-18 concert season will see the premiere of his latest guitar concerto, Concierto de Fumar, with the Hunter Science Pre-College String Orchestra at Lincoln Center, and he will perform in concert and present a lecture on music entrepreneurship at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
As a prodigious composer/arranger with over fifty original works and several commissions to his name, Tye is dedicated to expanding the classical guitar repertoire. He’s currently the Composer in Residence at the Hunter Science High School at Hunter Preparatory College in Manhattan, NYC. Tye is also the founder and director of New Yorkestra, a collective of twenty-five string players (guitarists, violinists, violists, cellists, and double bassists) who perform chamber music for guitar duo, string trio, string quartet, and/or string orchestra at a variety of concerts and luxury events in the New York City area. He also formed the Tye Austin Jazz Trio, which fuses flamenco and Latin jazz music with his own arrangements and compositions for acoustic guitar, upright bass, and percussion.
He plays a wide range of musical genres from classical to jazz, bossa nova, and even contemporary pop, but he adores Spanish guitar music the most, also known as flamenco. In the summer of 2015, Tye traveled throughout Spain. He gained profound insight into the history of Spanish guitar music while performing in the cave dwellings and tapas bars of Andalusia, and taking flamenco lessons with native guitar masters, David Martinez and Adrian Ruis. During this solo voyage, Tye visited ten different Spanish cities and paid homage to the historical monuments and childhood homes of his favorite composers such as Francisco Tarrega, Manuel de Falla, Joaquin Rodrigo, Andres Segovia, and many others. He contemplated the music of his guitar heroes as he witnessed the muses that inspired their original works of genius. He learned Tarrega’s famous tremolo work, Recuerdos de la Alhambra, while overlooking the Alhambra Palace from his rooftop terrace in Granada.
Tye was sixteen-years-old when he went to a classical guitar concert for the first time in his hometown of Ashland, Oregon. Suddenly, without any prior music training or exposure to classical music, an epiphany washed over him! Instantly finding his raison d’être, he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to the mastery of classical guitar in that moment. “I was mesmerized the first time I heard classical guitar music. The polyphony and advanced tremolo techniques of pieces such as Asturias and Recuerdos de la Alhambra sounded impossible for one guitarist to execute simultaneously, and yet I was witnessing the magic happen before my eyes. I was immediately hooked after hearing the first note, but I fell in love with the instrument when I felt it’s body resonate against my heart with every string I plucked,” Tye explains.
He bought his first guitar at a pawn shop in 2007 and began teaching himself basic chords by imitating photographs of other guitarists. Frustrated with a lack of musical knowledge and ability, he began auditing music fundamentals and taking private guitar lessons at Southern Oregon University (SOU) for merely one year before he was accepted as a full-time music major in the fall of 2008. He began composing music in 2010 and conducted the premiere of his first symphony with the SOU Symphonic Orchestra in 2012. After winning a multitude of competitions and awards for his excellence in the arts of guitar performance and music composition, Tye completed his Master of Music degree at the New England Conservatory in 2016, where he studied with legendary maestro Eliot Fisk (the last direct pupil of Andres Segovia) on a full-ride scholarship. He also had the privilege of studying with Grammy-winners Sharon Isbin (Juilliard Guitar Chair), Jason Vieaux (Curtis Institute Guitar Chair), and William Kannengiser (USC Guitar Chair).
Tye’s debut studio EP album, Andalusia: Spanish Guitar Music, is out now! You can stream it for free at his Digital Music Store or SoundCloud. Tye plays a 2015 Steve Connor Guitar, hand-crafted personally for him in Cape Cod, MA. In his spare time, he enjoys meditating, reading in solitude, and riding his bike through Central Park.