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Costa Rican guitarist and composer Guido Sanchez Portuguez


In the early 1990s, Guido was a guitarist for "Sentence", a pioneering band of the thrash metal scene in Costa Rica. From power chords to intricate solos, he immersed himself in the world of guitar-driven soundscapes. His commitment to mastering the instrument laid the foundation for his remarkable, life-long journey through music, resulting in a career that spans both performance and academia.


Guido began his formal musical studies at the University of Costa Rica’s School of Music where he graduated with honors in 2001 under the guidance of Mario Solera. Three years in a row (1997, 1998 and 1999), he earned the “Student of Honor” scholarship at the University of Costa Rica and traveled to France and Spain to attend the Stage de Guitares D’Alsace and the Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Córdoba. In 2000, he was a finalist at one of the most prestigious guitar competitions in the world: the Concurso y Festival Internacional de Guitarra de La Habana, Cuba. A year later, he obtained the Jury’s Mention of Honor at the 2001 First Composition Competition for Guitar organized by Producciones Aranjuez in Costa Rica for his piece, Rondó de Vidrio (available on Trazos). The following year, he won first prize for his guitar orchestra piece, Arenal, which was eventually recorded by the Guitar Orchestra of the University of Costa Rica on their album 25 Años.


From 1995 to 2003, Guido was first guitar of the Guitar Orchestra of Costa Rica, with which he has recorded five CDs and toured around the World. In 2003, he won First Prize at the National Guitar Competition in San José, Costa Rica. It was at this competition that Guido won a Manuel Contreras II Primera Especial, which is still his favorite concert guitar. 


During his senior year at the University of Costa Rica, Guido became co-founder of the "Escuela Superior de Guitarra" for which he worked as both teacher and director. 


In 2004, Guido began his Master’s at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with the distinguished professor and internationally acclaimed guitarist Ernesto Bitetti.  He continued on to the prestigious Doctoral Program at the Jacobs School of Music, graduating in May 2012 as Doctor of Music in Guitar with minors in Music Theory and Composition where he studied with composers Luis Diego Herra, Sven-David Sandstrom, Per Martensson, Gabriela Ortiz, and Don Freund.  In 2008 he won the prize for Best Performance of the Compulsory Work at the Joann Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition.


During his years as a student, Guido participated in masterclasses with numerous figures including Leo Brouwer, Costas Cotsiolis, Pepe Romero, Eduardo Fernández, Nuccio D’Angelo, Javier Hinojosa, Jorge Luis Zamora, Jorge Cardoso, Mario Ulloa, Juan Falú, Francisco Ortiz, Eduardo Martín, Baltazar Benítez and Jesús Ortega. 


Although his studies centered on classical guitar, Guido continued to explore the instrument’s possibilities across genres not only as an instrumentalist but also as a composer. He minored in Music Theory and Composition and performed regularly with the Latin American Popular Music Ensemble. It was also during his time as a graduate student in Indiana that Guido played bass guitar for the Clayton Anderson Band, a country music group. 


After graduating with his Doctor of Music, Guido joined the faculty at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University from 2009-2014 where he taught courses in Latin American music history and techniques for arranging in Latin styles. He was also the Resident Arranger and Musical Director of the Latin American Popular Music Ensemble. With this ensemble, he recorded Paisaje Urbano, a CD featuring his ability as a performer and arranger as well as director and producer. In 2012, Guido directed and produced a CD with the Grammy-winner singer Sylvia McNair in which he is also featured as performer and arranger. 


In 2014 and 2015 Guido served as the Director of Guitar Studies at Franklin College in Indiana, where he also taught World Music. In 2015, he started teaching classical guitar lessons and online music appreciation classes at Parkland College. And in that same year he created his own private classical and fingerstyle guitar studio at The Upper Bout in Champaign, IL.


Guido Sanchez-Portuguez has performed in numerous festivals around the world including the Boardwalk Music Festival in Virginia, the Festival de Guitares D’Alsace in France, the Festival Internacional de Guitarra in San José, Costa Rica, the Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival, the Festival de Guitarra de Guanacaste in Liberia, Costa Rica, Guitar Days in Buffalo, NY, the Festival Permanente de Música de Suchitoto in El Salvador, the World Culture Festival in Washington DC, Festival de Musica con Plectro in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Craneo Metal Online Fest, and the Indiana Guitar Festival. He has also performed and given masterclasses and lecture-recitals at several universities including Marshall University, Universidad de Costa Rica, Tulane University, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Indianapolis, Illinois State University, University of Minnesota, and Indiana University Purdue in Indianapolis.


Currently, Dr. Guido Sanchez-Portuguez is a Clinical Asst. Professor of Guitar at the University of Illinois School of Music, where he has been on the faculty since 2017. With a rich and diverse musical background spanning many styles, Dr. Sanchez-Portuguez brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role. He is Director of the Guitar Studio, Director of both the Guitar Ensemble and the Latin American Ensemble, Professor for Musicianship and is an Affiliate of the Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Guido is currently designing a course on Latin American Music History, which he will teach in Fall 2024. He also designed and teaches Class Guitar for music education majors. By equipping aspiring teachers with the skills and knowledge to incorporate guitar instruction into their curriculum, Guido empowers them to become advocates for music education in their own classrooms and communities.


Guido's commitment to expanding guitar education extends beyond the university campus. Recognizing the importance of music education in public schools, Guido engages in guitar instruction to students of all ages. He regularly visits public schools throughout Illinois to provide classes and demonstrations and to consult with educators on promoting guitar in pre-college settings. In addition, Guido instituted “Guitar Week” for the Illinois Summer Youth Music program. He participates regularly in the Mid-America Guitar Ensemble festival as composer, director, performer, and instructor.


Dr. Guido Sanchez-Portuguez’s story is one of passion, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to the world of music. His journey—from heavy metal guitarist to accomplished professor and performer—is a testament to the transformative power of artistry. His dedication to music, education, and artistic exploration continues to inspire students and audiences alike.

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