“Vanguard’s Guitar Ensemble develops the necessary skills to make a guitarist an overall better musician, but it is the friendships with the professors and students I cherish most”- Josafat Valle, Music Major, Class of 2014

About Us

The Vanguard University Guitar Program, under the direction of Professor Michael Nigro, is recognized as having one of the strongest and active programs in Orange County.  The VU Guitar Program provides a thorough and challenging program of study for students who are wishing to complete their Bachelor of Music in Performance, Music Education, Church Music, Composition, or Jazz Studies.  Many students in the VU Guitar Program are in the Bachelor of Arts in General Music, Bachelor of Arts in Worship Studies, or Music Minors.  The VU Guitar Program regularly hosts international performing artists and educators, and provides an excellent foundation for a professional career.

The VU Guitar Program includes courses in Beginning Guitar, Guitar Ensemble, Guitar Quartet, Fretboard Skills, Guitar Pedagogy, Guitar History and Literature, and Private Instruction.  Classes are open to music and non-music majors.  Performance scholarships are available to qualified students.  IMG_3075[2] copy

The VU Guitar Program has had some of the world’s most accomplished artists for masterclasses and concerts including Marc Teicholz, Matt Denman, William Kanengiser, Lynn McGrath, Scott Tennant, Vladimir Gorbach, David Grimes, Anthony Kakamakov, David Isaacs, Gregory Newton, Gisle Krogseth, Nikola Chekardzhikov, Peter Zisa, and Dmirty Koudymov.  In addition, the VU Guitar Program recently held its Second Annual Guitar Festival which hosted over 160 students from various high schools and colleges from Southern California and as far as Arizona and Texas.

The VU Guitar Ensemble performs regularly both locally and out of state.  Some of the performance venues include; The Ventura County Classical Guitar Society, The Bing Concert Series (located in the Stanford Hospital Medical Center), The Clark County Library’s Main Theatre in Las Vegas, Glendale Community College, AZ, Marylhurst University, OR, Oregon State University’s “Music a la Carte,” St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Redding, CA, Mount Shasta High School, CA,  Denver School of the Arts, CO, Simpson University in Redding, CA and the Segerstrom Center for Arts in Costa Mesa, CA for the Annual Christmas Fantasia Concert.

VU Guitar Students have consistently placed or taken top prizes in both solo and chamber competitions including the 2012 Christopher Parkening International Guitar Competition, Pacific Guitar Festival, Indiana University Guitar Competition, 2012 Sigma Alpha Iota scholarship, the 2013 Aron Green ASTA Guitar Competition, the 2013 Musical Arts Competition of Orange County, the Vanguard University Concerto Competition, and the 2013 Sierra Nevada Guitar Competition.  Students graduating with degrees from the VU Guitar Program have gone on to pursue graduate degrees at Cal State Fullerton, and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.


The DirectorNigroPhoto

Prof. Michael Nigro, M.M.

The Guitar Ensemble is under the direction of Michael Nigro.  Professor Nigro attended the prestigious Indiana University School of Music where he graduated with his Bachelor of Music Degree in 2000 under the direction of Ernesto Bitetti. After moving back to his native Southern California, he attended California State University, Fullerton and earned a Master of Music degree under the tutelage of David Grimes. Michael is an active member of the guitar community; he is co-founder of the Long Beach Classical Guitar Society, independent reviewer of new music publications for the GFA (Guitar Foundation of America) periodical, Soundboard Magazine, and sought after teacher and performer.

The Tours

The Vanguard University Guitar Ensemble tours yearly, outside of local, monthly bookings. In the fall of  2011 & 2012, the Guitar Ensemble was invited on tour up the Pacific Coast performing at universities, churches, concert halls, guitar societies and schools. In addition to their Fall Tour, the Guitar Ensemble traveled to Las Vegas, Denver and Colorado Springs in the Spring of 2013 for the Soundscapes CD Release Tour

Now in 2015, the Guitar Ensemble has an exciting opportunity to embark on a week-long tour down to Argentina.  Their tour will extend from May 20th to May 27th, where they will participate at the University Guitar Festival in San Juan and minister to the students there.  Argentina has a struggling economy with many opportunities of spiritual and practical ministry at its doorstep.  Our students could benefit from your prayer support and financial support, as God works through their talents and outreach.  If you are interested in financially assisting our students on this trip, please visit: https://connect.vanguard.edu/outreach.

The Recordings

In 2013 Guitar Ensemble released their debut album Soundscapes featuring the Guitar Ensemble and Guitar Quartets. This is a full length album including compositions from world class composers as well as various arrangements from Dr. Gregory Glancey. This album was made possible through a generous donation by Eoin & Lettie Cowie who have been vibrant supporters of our Guitar Ensemble and the music program at Vanguard University. To purchase this album visit our Ensemble Recordings page and fill out a CD Order Form.

Booking Information

book nowThe Vanguard University Guitar Ensemble is available for booking October through April, often taking longer regional tours in November and/or March. Many concerts are being reserved up to one year in advance. Please fill out a Concert Request or contact the Music Events office at 714.619-6412 or concerts@vanguard.edu to request the group for your specific event, guitar society, church, or school.