Mak Grgic has been called a “gifted young guitarist” by The New York Times, (Vivien Schweitzer), and Classics Today’s Jed Distler proclaimed that “Mak Grgic’s abundant, yet tasteful guitar virtuosity leaves a powerful impression…” His premiere at The National Gallery of Art elicited the following comments from Stephen Brookes on behalf of The Washington Post: “Weiss’s Passacaglia in D Major was a “high point of the evening” offering “a superb, finely detailed reading that showed Grgic is a guitarist to keep an eye on.” “He turned in a beautiful account of Weiss’s six-movement “L’Infidel” suite, exploring its contrasts and fascinating twists and turns — from the deeply personal Sarabande to the slow-gathering power of the Paisanne — with real intelligence. It was a treat to hear the Slovenian guitarist Mak Grgic spotlight two rarely heard works by Weiss in a fine performance of Renaissance and Baroque music on Sunday night at the National Gallery of Art.”
His first solo recording on Marquis Music entitled Cinema Verismo focuses on music used in cinema over the last few decades, which mixes classical works used in films and transcriptions of cinematic scores. The CD includes Asturias by Albeniz, for which one critic stated that “Grgic did an excellent job of catering to the expectations of the audience while still make the piece his own.” Cinema Verismo also offers music ranging from films such as The Godfather, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Volver, The Mission, West Side Story and Chariots of Fire.
Mak, was a Young Artist in Residence at The Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, where aside from chamber music and solos and school outreach, he inspired performances and commissions of contemporary music, including new works from Michael Gordon, Nina Senk as well as stellar performances of established contemporary works by Davidovsky and Sciarrino, all of this seldom seen and heard at the otherwise, mostly traditional chamber music society. The L.os Angeles Times said the following of Mak’s playing: “For the second premiere, the program possibly had its revelatory moment in the form of the calmly powerful “Dreamcatcher” by Slovenian composer Nena Šenk, who studied with Matthias Pintscher and is composer-in-residence with the esteemed Frankfurt, Germany-based Ensemble Modern. By turns muscular, highly detailed and yet somehow dreamy in its way — including the use of a bow on Mak Grgi¿’s guitar strings and fleeting, floating tones as a coda — the work was a boldly personal expression and conveyed sure control of materials.”
Mak has had the good fortune of working with some stellar collaborators including Martin Chalifour (Concertmaster of The Los Angeles Philharmonic), cellists Jay Campbell, Joshua Roman, Ashley Bathgate (cellist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars) as well as John Sant’Ambrogio (former principal cello of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra). Others include The Assad Brothers, flutist Christopher Matthews, Paul Vasile and Stephen Ackert on the organ, guitarists Daniel Lippel (their contemporary music duo is now called FretX) and a newly formed duo with flamenco virtuoso Adam del Monte (Duo Deloro), as well as Christopher McGuire, percussionist Ian Rosenbaum, and guitarist-composer Nejc Kuhar, with whom Mak made his first album, sponsored by The National Radio of Slovenia and the Ministry of Culture in Slovenia.
Mak’s performances with orchestra include Arvo Part’s Fratres and the Concierto de Aranjuez of Rodrigo with the Maribor Opera Orchestra. Their collaboration yielded the following comments from the conductor Maestro TaeJung Lee. “It was a great pleasure to collaborate with Mak Grgic, a wonderful guitarist from Slovenia. Together we performed Arvo Pärts Fratres and the Concierto de Aranjuez of Rodrigo with the Maribor Opera Orchestra. He is not only an exceptional guitarist, but also one of the most diverse young artists with whom I have worked. Mak moves from modern concertos to Aranjuez with ease and grace – undaunted by the most complex scores. In his special arrangement of Fratres, there were many wonderful individual insights and personal contributions to the guitar part. Rodrigo’s Aranjuez was lively and exciting, and his ability to move the orchestra forward is rare. I am looking forward to another exciting collaboration.”
Other Performances include the Spokane Symphony at The Festival at Sandpoint under Maestro Gary Sheldon, conductor of The Miami City Ballet, as well as the festival orchestra at Lancaster Festival, The RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Ivo Lipanovic, the Croatian Chamber Philharmonic with Maestro Mladen Tarbuk, the SNG Maribor Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Simon Krecic and St. Petersburg Symphony with conductor Vladimir Lande, former principal oboe of The St. Petersburg Philharmonic.
His list of recitals is abundant and include recitals include numerous appearances at The Allegro Guitar Society, as well as the Sarasota Guitar Society, Portland Classic Guitar, Austin Classical Guitar in recital with Martin Chalifour, the University of Las Vegas in Nevada, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Newman Center for Performing Arts, Denver, Strathmore Hall in Maryland, Pepperdine University as a guest of Christopher Parkening, Portland Classical Guitar, the Minnesota Guitar Society, Guitar Festival Mikulov, Northwest Guitar Festival, Piran Music Nights and The Sounds of Six Strings, Cankarjev Dom, Slovenia as well as well as Arts at the Park in NYC, the New York Classical Guitar Society, Microfest in Los Angeles, The Beyond Microtonal Festival in Pittsburgh, Guitar Art Summer Fest, and in Korea at the Music Now Festival.
Other dates have included performances at the Grande Auditorium di Espinho, Espinho and Teatro di Fafe, Fafe Municipality in Portugal, Teatro Cervantes de Bejar, Salamanca, Castile-Leon in Spain, International Music Council of the European Broadcasting Union in an all instrument “New Talent” Competition in Bratislava, representing the Republic of Slovenia as well as The Dallas Opera with Chamber Orchestra in performances of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse.
Mak is a passionate advocate for new music and has premiered numerous new pieces, including the music of Nina Senk with JACK Quartet, the music of David Crowell, (composer and saxophonist of the the Philip Glass Ensemble), music by Christian Carey, Julia Adolphe, Thomas Kotcheff, Sven-David Sandström, Hakki Cengiz Eren, and William Harvey, who is presently living in Afghanistan.
He has been interviewed around the world by magazines, newspapers and radio stations such as KPBX in Spokane, Washington, Sarasota Public Radio, UNIVOX and National Radio in Slovenia, National TV and Radio in Croatia, Thüringische Landeszeitung in Germany, Jutarnji List in Croatia, the popular family magazine Jana in Slovenia, the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, Classical Guitar Magazine in the UK and Il Messaggero and Chitarra Classica in Italy. His CD Cinema Verismo was heard on over 100 radio stations in North America and Canada, as well as China and Korea.
Mak has been awarded first prize at the Guitar Competition “Luigi Mozzani” in Italy and has been honored with highest prizes at: the Andres Segovia International Competition for young guitarists in Velbert, Germany, the Forum Gitarre Wien International Competition in Vienna, Austria, the International Guitar Competition in Arrenzano, Italy, the Anna Amalia Competition for young guitarists in Weimar, Germany, the International Guitarart Festival and Competition in Belgrade, Serbia and the European Classical Guitar Competition “Enrico Mercatali” in Italy.
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, he studied guitar in Zagreb with the revered Ante Cagalj at the Elly Basic Conservatory of Music and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree with Alvaro Pierri at the Universitaet fuer Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria. At the moment he is pursuing his Doctoral Degree at the USC Thornton School of Music as a student of William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. He is also a teaching assistant at USC under the direction of Brian Head. His charitable activities include fundraising for Bosnian children with financial issues, including a recent recital in Zenica, BIH, where funds were raised for a local orphanage. Mak currently plays Antonius Müller, 2009, a MC Jose Ramirez, 1966, and a double top guitar made by Slovenia’s brilliant luthier Samo Sali.