Dayton native goes from Catalpa to Carnegie Hall

Michael Bard to perform at New York City venue Nov. 4.



There’s an old joke: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer: “Practice, man, practice.” That’s true for Dayton native Michael Bard, making his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York on Saturday, Nov. 4. The classical guitarist notes it also requires decades of performing, learning and immersing yourself in the world of music.

“It takes a lot to get there, that’s for sure,” Bard says, speaking by telephone from his home in Bethesda, Maryland. “Growing up as a kid in Dayton, Ohio, I never expected I’d be in this position of gracing the stage at the most iconic music hall on the planet. I’m grateful for this opportunity. I want to entertain and inspire and have the crowd shouting for more.”

For his debut at the famous venue, the graduate of Meadowdale High School and Wright State University, will be joined by tenor Jesús Daniel Hernández, soprano Aurora Dainer and guitarist Benjamin Schnake. In addition to Bard originals, the program features pieces by composers such Johann Sebastian Bach, Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados and Francisco Tárrega.

“The Carnegie concert should be a lot of variety, which is what I was aiming for,” Bard says. “I was initially approached by a sponsor to do a solo classical guitar concert, which I can do, but I felt like the more the merrier. I thought adding some singing and some guitar duets would make the program a little more interesting.

“The first half of the program is going to be just me,” Bard continued. “I’ll play six or seven pieces. Two of the pieces are my own original published compositions. I am a Carnegie Hall virgin, so I’m really excited I’m going to be playing a couple of my own originals. When I’m done with my set, I’ll bring on my different guests for different songs.”

A portion of the concert’s proceeds will benefit Veteran’s Repertory Theatre.

“We’re tying it in with Veteran’s Day which is a holiday about a week after the concert,” Bard says. “Our presenter Vet Rep Theatre is a veteran’s organization based in New York. It’s got several theaters throughout the state and city of New York. It’s essentially about getting them involved in the arts, music, poetry, dance and painting. It’s an artistic outlet specifically for those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”



Dayton View memories

Bard grew up on Catalpa Drive in the Dayton View neighborhood in the home where his mother still lives. He was an 11-year-old student at Miami Chapel when he first picked up the acoustic guitar.

“Originally, I wanted to play the drums,” he says with a chuckle. “My parents said, ‘No way José, that’s too much noise.’ They didn’t want to disturb the neighbors. Fortunately, there was a group guitar class at Miami Chapel. I asked my parents if I could take guitar. They said, ‘Sure,’ and we went down to Dayton Band.

“They rented a cheap old acoustic guitar for me to start off with,” he continues. “They were not intent on buying me an expensive electric guitar and amplifier unless I practiced and showed some promise. I was dedicated. I was really nose-to-the-grindstone. I wanted to do it because I felt such a passion for it.”

Bard continued playing guitar throughout school. Like many of his contemporaries at the time, he was enamored by the electric guitar work Ace Frehley of KISS, Queen’s Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Lifson of Rush and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler.

“During my teen years it was all about rock ‘n’ roll,” Bard says. “I didn’t have a lot of other interests. Eventually my parents bought me an electric guitar, which is what I really wanted more than anything. I got that and spent hours and hours in my bedroom practicing. I was listening to pop records and tapes.

“It was, stop, rewind, play,” Bard continues. “You know, ‘How can I copy that? How can I play this song?’ Staying holed up in my bedroom trying to figure out how to play songs is probably what kept me out of trouble.”



Back to unplugged

Bard credits one artist with turning his attention away from rock and back to the acoustic guitar and the styles of music he plays to this day.

“What got me into classical, Spanish guitar repertoire in particular, was hearing a recording on Andres Segovia, the late, great Spanish guitarist,” Bard says. “He really set the stage to present classical guitar as a respected concert instrument. When I heard this Segovia recording, I thought, ‘Man, that’s really cool.’ I asked my parents if I could take classical guitar lessons. I went to Dayton Band, of course, and studied with a great teacher, David Talbe.”

Bard, who graduated from Meadowdale in 1987, continued his acoustic guitar studies with Jim McCutcheon at Wright State.

“Jim McCutcheon is one of the most sought-after guitar teachers in the Dayton area,” Bard says. “He’s pretty much cornered the market but he’s great. He really encouraged me. It’s so different from playing rock guitar. It was like learning a new language. Shortly after I graduated from Wright State around ‘91, I got a fellowship to go study classical guitar at Arizona State University, which I loved.

“It was one of the highlights of my life,” he continues. “I loved the fact I was surrounded by other guitarists who were much, much better than I was. I learned a lot from them and improved my playing. I was able to get a new perspective.”

Watch the music video for Michael Bard’s “Mediterranean Beauty”:

Bard continues to apply those lessons and decades of practical experience to his current work as a performer and private music instructor.

“It’s mostly guitar, but a little bass and a little ukulele,” Bard says. “I’ve been doing this for decades. In fact, I got my start at Dayton Band. I teach 20 to 25 private students a week and then perform various gigs locally and nationally. My wife and I just did a little private event here in Bethesda. Over the summer we were artists in residents at a villa a friend of ours owns and operates as sort of a bed and breakfast in Tuscany.

“That was three weeks of just beauty and magnificence,” Bard adds. “I’m playing at some really cool venues like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in New York and Strathmore Hall in West Bethesda. Now, I’m playing Carnegie Hall so it’s varied and interesting. Being just a guitar teacher would be nice. I enjoy it. I make a decent living doing it, but I love performing and getting out there and sharing my talents with others.”

That is one way to get to Carnegie Hall.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or


Who: Michael Bard with special guests Jesús Daniel Hernández, Aurora Dainer and Benjamin Schnake

Where: Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, New York.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4

Cost: Tickets start at $58.50

More info:

Artist info:

About the Author