Warren Nicholson, guitarist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I don’t think any particular player/person really inspired me to want to go into music, that being said, I did have my favourite players (like anyone does), Bream, Williams, Barrueco, Russell etc, who have been performing artists’ models. I also had a teacher in undergraduate school (Dr Peter McAllister) who instilled a work ethic in me and tried to make younger players see the role as a ‘working musician’ and collaborative artists, as opposed to just a “soloist”…

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Shining a light on repertoire that I love and play well, that is not overplayed.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

“Sonidos del Sur” on Composers Concordance records is a favourite recording, as it is a collection of works from “guitar centric” countries in Latin America, where guitar music is part of everyday culture.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Any “post romantic” guitar repertoire from South America (Villa Lobos /Barrios etc)

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

I try to listen to as much non-guitar music as possible; getting away from your own instrument/repertoire is really refreshing.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I will usually have theme to a programme and try to make works fit accordingly. I also try to include at least one new piece that is “unknown” that I really like (or works from friend composers), and contrast it with
standard repertoire…try to make sure it fits together and that audiences won’t get bored or find it too self-indulgent…

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

The Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto was probably the finest acoustic I’ve ever experienced. I had played a few collaborative chamber concerts there in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s…the sound/clarity was unreal!

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

In two words education and exposure…Kids need to be exposed to it at a young age and embrace it… The education system in North America needs to make it a priority in the same way it’s done in Latin America and Europe. Also musicians have to be willing to go and play in places that brings the music experience to them and make it much more interactive. I know concerts are traditionally formal listening experiences, but in today’s world so many things
are “casual” and players need to be able to downshift to that kind of presentation on occasion (outreach concerts) and take it to younger audiences in schools, or risk becoming irrelevant…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

In November 2019, I played a solo recital in Sao Paulo Brazil. Getting to play Villa Lobos in Brazil for Brazilians was amazing, they are the warmest people in the world!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Being able to, and having the opportunity to play the music you love best, year after year.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Always be hungry for new/more music, learn from as many players as you can (the real learning will start after school ends), know yourself and what you do best and lean in that direction. Don’t ever set yourself up to fail/flop or play ill-prepared (if you do, learn from it), learn to say ‘no’ if it’s not your opportunity. Be the kind of open-minded musician you would want to work with. Have a repertoire building/keeping plan that reflects what you
do well and add to it on an annual basis. Always have something ready to play.

What is your present state of mind?

Right now I’m hopeful that the world is going to open up again and we can get back to playing all kinds of live concerts soon!


Warren Nicholson won the 1997 ”Artists International Auditions” in NYC ,leading to his Carnegie Recital Hall debut in 1998.As an active soloist and chamber musician, he has been invited to play for: The Riverside Church Sunday Chapel Series (NYC),Composer’s Concordance( NYC),Mac Master University’s Visiting Artist Series, “Music Mondays” (Toronto),The Great Lakes Guitar Society, “Guelph Connections Concerts,” St Luke’s Recital Series (Ottawa), “Guitar Movement”, (S.P. Brazil), among others. He has collaborated with: Etobicoke Philharmonic, Oakville Symphony, Mississauga Children’s Choir, The Oakville Chorale Society and Toronto Children’s Chorus, He has premiered works by: Gene Pritsker, John Cuciurean, Jeff Johnson and Arthur Kampela. Warren Nicholson studied guitar with John Donovan, Lynn Harting-Ware, Peter Mac Allister (Mc Master University BM91), Norbert Kraft and Mark Delpriora (Manhattan School of Music MM94).

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