Italian guitarist Nicolò Spera brings to his teaching and performing a unique synthesis of European and American traditions. Nicolò is one of the few guitarists in the world to perform on both six-string and ten-string guitars, as well as on theorbo. His wide-ranging repertoire includes the extraordinary music of the Franco-Andalusian composer Maurice Ohana. He has given lecture-recitals on the music of Ohana at different institutions and festivals, including the Mediterranean Guitar Festival, Arizona State University, Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, San Francisco Conservatory, and the University of Surrey for the launch of the International Guitar Research Centre. His CD of Ohana’s complete works for solo guitar (Soundset Recordings), presenting the world première recording of Estelas, was awarded the 5-stars “Disco del mese” review by Seicorde, the major Italian classical guitar magazine, and it was described as “un disco di altissimo valore.”
With Soundset Recordings, Nicolò has also published his own transcriptions of Bach’s Cello Suites 4, 5, and 6, for the ten-string guitar. About this recording, cellist Judith Glyde wrote that “it is a refreshing, captivating perspective on these boundless works, and a breathtaking discovery of an unprecedented sound world.”
In 2017, the Anglo-Spanish label Contrastes Records presented Nicolò’s recording of his transcriptions for the ten-string guitar of works by Catalan composers Federico Mompou and Enrique Granados.
Nicolò is equally at home in outreach concerts for the young, masterclasses for all ages, solo recitals and concerti with orchestra. As a soloist, he has performed in the US and Europe with conductors Michael Butterman, Andrés Cárdenes, Alejandro Gómez Guillén, Devin Hughes, William Intriligator, Cynthia Katsarelis, René Knetsch, and Michael Summers. About one of his concerto performances, Peter Alexander wrote: “Spera is clearly a master of his instrument who plays with a palpable love and joy in every note. He has the ability to take expressive freedom with the music without every losing a strong sense of beat, of meter, and of phrase. Spera’s joy in playing this music was contagious to all, orchestra and audience alike, making this a performance to relish and remember.” (Sharps & Flatirons)
Together with violinist Charles Wetherbee and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, he commissioned and performed the world premiere of Invisible Cities, a double concerto for guitar, violin, strings and percussion, written by the Welsh composer Steve Goss, who based this work on Italo Calvino’s visionary book.
In 2019, Nicolò performed in the US and in Italy three major works for guitar and choir: Romancero Gitano by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco; and two new pieces, which he commissioned from Italian composers Nicola Campogrande and Nicola Jappelli. These three compositions, which offer an unprecedented full program of music for this unusual pairing, are conceived as a dialectical exchange, with each composer’s poetic and musical vision presenting a different approach to the relationship between the guitar and the choir. The recording of this program, with Denver’s St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, was published by Brilliant Classics.
His most influential teachers are Oscar Ghiglia, Jonathan Leathwood, and Lorenzo Micheli. Nicolò holds degrees from the Claudio Monteverdi Conservatory in Bolzano and the prestigious Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, an Artist Diploma in Guitar Performance at the University of Denver and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado Boulder.
In 2011, Nicolò was appointed to the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is professor of Classical Guitar. He is also on the faculty of the study abroad program Renaissance in the XXI Century in Florence, Italy.
In 2013, he founded the University of Colorado International Guitar Festival and Competition, an unprecedented event that attracts prestigious guests, guitar performers, and students from all over the world.
“Questo chitarrista si profonde in interpretazioni puntuali e attente, forti di una tecninca chitarristica dalle vedute ampie.” (Ermanno Brignolo, Seicorde)
“I have heard this piece performed several times, and the performance that Nicolò Spera gave was the best I have ever heard. First of all Spera is a virtuoso guitar player, and second, he is a superb musician.” (Robin McNeil, OpusColorado)
“Spera is clearly a master of his instrument who plays with a palpable love and joy in every note. He has the ability to take expressive freedom with the music without every losing a strong sense of beat, of meter, and of phrase. Spera’s joy in playing this music was contagious to all, orchestra and audience alike, making this a performance to relish and remember.” (Peter Alexander, Sharps & Flatirons)
“Nicolò Spera is an excellent advocate for this harsh landscape of sound. He finds mystical beauty along with the anger and terror of Ohana’s music and is fully up to its demands, whether on six strings or ten.” (Ken Keaton, American Record Guide)