Arts faculty collaborate for ‘Guitar Fantasy’

two guitars
Mesut Özgen
Mesut Özgen (pictured on the cover of his first solo classical guitar album, Troubadour)
William Coulter
William Coulter

UCSC music lecturers Mesut Özgen and William Coulter will present “Guitar Fantasy”--a special program of Spanish, Latin American, Celtic, Turkish, and Russian music—on Friday, January 25, at the UCSC Music Center Recital Hall.

The concert will include classical and traditional music for solo guitar, including guitar duets, plus a finale featuring Coulter and special guests Aria DiSalvio (cello) and John Weed (fiddle) performing a variety of Celtic tunes.

Coulter has been performing and recording traditional music for more than two decades.

In 2005 he was awarded a Grammy for his contribution to The Pink Guitar, a collection of solo guitar arrangements of the music of Henry Mancini.

Coulter earned his bachelor’s degree in music from UC Santa Cruz and a master of music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory.

During his classical studies he was always drawn to traditional Irish and American folk music. This led to a second master's degree from UCSC in ethnomusicology--with an emphasis on traditional Irish music, language and song.

As an instructor, Coulter maintains a classical guitar studio at UCSC, and is busy in the summer at camps such as the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, The National Guitar Workshop, Chris Norman's Boxwood Flute Camp, and the Rocky Mt. Fiddle Camp.

His book of transcriptions, Celtic Crossing, is published by Mel Bay, and includes all of the music from his Gourd Music recording of the same name.

Coulter’s music can be found on Windham Hill Records and Gourd Music, and his recordings have also appeared on compilations produced by the Narada label and Hearts of Space.

A champion of new music for guitar, Özgen has performed and taught master classes throughout the United States, Spain, and Turkey. He is the first guitarist ever to be awarded the Dean's Prize, the highest honorary award of the Yale School of Music.

Özgen has also performed as a featured soloist in the International Paco Peña Guitar Festival in Cordoba, Spain, and was a prizewinner in the International Portland Guitar Competition.

Originally from Turkey, Özgen began teaching himself guitar in 1981 while in medical school. During his seven years of medical practice, he also played concerts and taught guitar at the Gazi University School of Music Education and the Hacettepe University in Turkey.

After performing at the Paco Peña Guitar Festival, he was invited to the United States by guitarist/composer Benjamin Verdery to study with him at Yale University's School of Music. Özgen completed both his master of music degree and artist diploma at Yale and later a doctoral program at Arizona State University.

He joined the UCSC faculty in 1998.

In 2004, Özgen released Troubadour, his first solo classical guitar recording on Golden Horn Records. The title takes its name from the traveling musicians of the medieval European folk tradition known as the troubadours. All of the pieces on the CD are inspired by folk music and include Turkish, American, Paraguayan, Spanish, Hungarian, and Indian influences.


The UCSC Music Department will present “Guitar Fantasy” featuring  UCSC faculty guitarists Mesut Özgen and William Coulter on Friday, January 25,  at 7:30 p.m. in The Music Center Recital Hall. Tickets are $12 general, $10 seniors (62+), and $8 youth and students with ID—available at, the UCSC Ticket Office (831-459-2159), and the Santa Cruz Civic box office (831-420-5260).