Guitarist Thomas Kikta Tapped to Compose Piece for New York City Ballet

Thomas Kikta may be best known in the classical guitar world for his contributions to a number of book and video extrapolations on the guitar pedagogy of his legendary Peabody Institute teacher Aaron Shearer (1919–2008), including the third edition of Shearer’s landmark Classic Guitar Technique Vol. 1, The Shearer Method: Classic Guitar Foundations, The Shearer Method: Learning the Fingerboard, and others. For the past three decades, Kikta has been the director of the Classic Guitar and Recording Arts and Sciences programs at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and since Shearer’s death, vice-president of the Aaron Shearer Foundation, which is “dedicated to preserving and propagating the teachings and legacy of the revolutionary guitar pedagogue.” He is an experienced recording engineer and producer, working in many styles, and, germane to this news item, a composer.

Kikta was recently tapped by the New York City Ballet to compose music for a new ballet set to debut at Lincoln Center in Manhattan at their annual Fall Gala event on September 20, and then move into the troupe’s repertoire for the 2016-2017 season. The ballet is being choreographed by Peter Walker, with whom Kikta previously collaborated on ballet pieces for the New York Choreographic Institute in 2011 and another called Inverno for the School of American Ballet last year. Not coincidentally, Kikta’s daughter Emily is a dancer who is or has been associated with all those groups, and she will be a featured dancer in the new production.


According to a press release about the new ballet put out by D’Addario (whose strings Kikta endorses, along with Alhambra Guitars, Line 6, and Fishman Electronics), the still-untitled new work “features ten dancers  and takes the listener through a journey of guitar from classical to contemporary, with altered tunings and various guitar sounds.” Kikta will play guitar and be joined by pianist Arkadiy Figlin, Juilliard’s Raymond Mase on trumpet, and James on drums. Sounds promising!                                                                                                      —Blair Jackson

Emily Kikta dances in George Balanchine's' "Jewels" with the New York City Ballet
Emily Kikta dances in George Balanchine’s’ “Jewels” with the New York City Ballet