Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

Starobin Shines as Performer, Producer, and Educator 

Starobin Shines as Performer, Producer, and Educator 

David Starobin (right) works with Leon Fleisher (left) to produce the Grammy-nominated CD All the Things You Are.

Described as “arguably the most influential American classical guitarist of the 20th century” by Soundboard magazine in 1997, Grammy award–winning performer David Starobin (BM ’73, Guitar) continues to earn international esteem for the breadth and quality of his body of work — as a performer, producer, and educator.

During the course of Mr. Starobin’s performing career, many leading composers — including Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Milton Babbitt, Poul Ruders, Gunther Schuller, Paul Lansky, and Lukas Foss — have writ- ten more than 300 works for him. Mr. Starobin is the only guitarist to have been awarded Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant (1988) and was the youngest guitarist inducted into the Guitar Foundation of America’s Hall of Fame (2011). He is founder with wife, Becky (BM ’73, Violin),

of Bridge Records Inc., which has released more than 400 CDs and DVDs since the company started in 1981, and he has served as a member of the guitar faculty of Manhattan School of Music since 1993. In addition, in 2010, along with Jason Vieaux, he started the guitar program at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was appointed Fondation Charidu Chair in Guitar Studies.

Over the years, Mr. Starobin has performed at festivals, including Marlboro, Aspen, Santa Fe Chamber, Banff, and Tanglewood, and with orchestras and ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic,

San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, and the Emerson and Guarneri String Quartets, as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Mr. Starobin was guitarist and conductor with the ensemble Speculum Musicae, and he recorded and toured from 1969 to 2013 with baritone Patrick Mason (BM ’72, Voice).

He balances his active performance and teaching schedule with his role as director of artists and repertoire at Bridge Records. Bridge’s recordings have earned more than 30 Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations, three Grammy awards, three MIDEM Awards, and five ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards. Mr. Starobin himself was nominated for two Grammy awards as per- former and was nominated as Producer of the Year (Classical) in 2015.

Mr. Starobin started playing guitar at the age of 7 and went on to study with Manuel Gayol, Albert Valdes Blaine, and Aaron Shearer. At Peabody, he was coached by legendary pianist Leon Fleisher, also performing with him in the chamber ensemble that would become the Kennedy Center Chamber Players.

Currently a member of Peabody’s Distinguished Artist Council, Mr. Starobin says that without Peabody, his life would have been very different. Peabody is where he met Becky, where he developed lifelong friend- ships with musical colleagues, and where mentors exposed him to the music, composers, and ideas that shaped his own musicianship.

“The school provided the atmosphere for learning, and there were a whole bunch of people around who were fascinating and knew more than I did, and I loved those years because of that,” says Mr. Starobin, who received Peabody Conservatory’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999. “It transformed my life in the most thorough way.”

— Rachel Wallach