We had the good fortune of connecting with Emre Sabuncuoglu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emre, what are you inspired by?
Music, in and of itself, has always been an inspiration although I’m equally inspired by the sheer power of music to move each of us on many different levels. We’re consciously and subconsciously affected by it every day. It plays in the background of our favorite movie scenes or in our fondest memories. But performing music you love on your very own instrument propels that notion to entirely new heights. I derive an incredible sense of joy and satisfaction when expounding upon technique and enabling individuals to perform the music they love. Our students at LAGA, their progression and inquisitiveness are a source of constant motivation. It’s been a decades-long pursuit. And yet, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about.
It’s been a passion to arrange music for the guitar to bring timeless pieces by the greatest composers to the instrument, perhaps expanding the guitar’s traditionally limited repertoire. While there have been many other bold attempts at such arrangements, too often the composer is shortchanged and the integrity of the original work is compromised. I stay true to the composer’s intentions and strive to keep the voicing and texture intact. Very often this process requires some creativity on the fingerboard, technical innovations, and advanced levels of music theory knowledge. I consider an arrangement successful if the audience is left wondering whether the piece was originally written for guitar.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The journey has been interesting and, as with all things in life, never easy. The ability to overcome challenges comes with the willingness, tenacity, and flexibility to do the hard work. Tackling any of life’s challenges is akin to arranging a piece. One must be willing to do the work, to persevere when it becomes seemingly impossible. Once you start thinking outside of the box at each step – each note, each position, each technique – you can always break through a barrier.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story
Whether it’s the sheet music publications or our online lessons platform, we believe in user experience and bringing a top-notch product and service to the community. I think that’s what our students and community have come to expect. And that’s the standard to which we hold ourselves.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is truly a special city. It’s home to the most temperate weather, beautiful coastlines, craggy mountain ranges, peaceful lakes, acres of parks and miles of trails. It’s also a cultural hub. Los Angeles hosts the Skirball Center, LACMA, LA Opera, Hollywood Bowl, Disney Concert Hall, Mark Taper Forum and so much more. It’s home to UCLA and USC where I earned my degree. There’s also much to do for the sports enthusiasts. It’s home for the Lakers, the Clippers, the Dodgers, the Rams and the Galaxy. While there’s something for everybody, soaking in the sun may be all you need to experience the magic of the city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are too many individuals to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for their love, support, and encouragement. I wouldn’t be here – literally and figuratively – without my mother and father. They cheered me on continuously even when my musical pursuits took me thousands of miles away from home. That journey eventually connected me with the late James F. Smith. He built the guitar program at the USC Thornton School of Music and was not only my beloved professor but also my advisor and mentor. He was a talented arranger in his own right and nurtured my interest in arranging. He had a wealth of knowledge and shared it so selflessly. Towards the end of my doctoral studies, he and I discussed a major undertaking – arranging a set of 12 Scarlatti sonatas in 12 different keys. The project was completed years after his passing. I dedicated that collection to his memory.