Faculty and Staff
|Title:||Assistant Professor of Guitar
School of Music
|Office:||School of Music Room 014|
Touted as a “gifted young guitarist” by the New York Times, and “a guitarist to keep an eye on” by the Washington Post, Grammy®- nominated artist Mak Grgić [GER-gich] is a star on the worldwide stage. An expansive and adventurous repertoire attests to his versatility and wide-ranging interests. From the ethnic music of his native Balkans to extreme avant-garde and microtonal music, his roles as soloist, collaborator, and Grammy-nominated recording artist are fueled by curiosity, imagination, and boundless energy. As a testament to his versatility and wide-ranging appeal, in 2018 Mak was invited by legendary singer-songwriter k.d. lang to perform as the opening act for the North American leg of her Ingénue Redux Tour.
An avid new music proponent, Mak has commissioned a multitude of new works for solo guitar and guitar with ensemble. Some of these include works by Michael Gordon, Julia Adolphe, Nina Senk, Leon First and Cengiz Eren, to name a few. In fall 2022 he will premiere and tour a newly commissioned guitar concerto by Michael Abels, composer for the Oscar-winning motion picture Get Out.
Also, an active entrepreneur and educator, Mak is a member of the leadership teams of several organizations including the European Guitar Festival Collaborative (EuroStrings), the Zagreb Guitar Festival, and the Connecticut Guitar Festival. This year, he founded “Notey's World” and the company Notey Inc, to develop a unique game for tablets and smartphones intended to popularize music learning and make it more fun. As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, he founded the Virtual Guitar Orchestra, gathering more than 1500 guitarists from more than 50 countries to date. VGO is a community-oriented project, recognized by the Library of Congress for its cultural contributions, and has also formed collaborations with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the Augustine Educational Foundation, to help ensembles be active virtually.
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1987, Mak studied guitar in Zagreb with the revered Ante Cagalj at the Elly Basic Music Academy. By the age of 14, he was balancing his world champion status in karate with his love for the guitar. Throughout his high school years, he concertized in Ljubljana and Zagreb, splitting his weeks between the two cities, as well as competing in professional martial arts contests across Europe and Asia. Following an injury to his left thumb, he made the decision to focus solely on a career in music, going on to complete a bachelor’s degree with Alvaro Pierri at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Pursuing advanced studies in the U.S., Mak was one of the first students to apply for USC Thornton’s new Arts Leadership graduate program, which he incorporated into his doctoral studies in guitar. He has been a student of William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, in addition to Brian Head, artistic director of Guitar Foundation of America. In the fall of 2017, he began the Artist Diploma program at USC, the first guitarist in the university’s history to be admitted to this elite program.
Mak Grgić is also proud to be involved with the Bosana Foundation, an organization that raises money for Bosnian youth. He also regularly awards education-furthering scholarships to select students across South America.