Most teenagers looking for guitar heroes in the late sixties and early seventies were drawn to Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. But a young Eliot Fisk looked to classicist Andres Segovia. "It's weird thing," Fisk says, "like some seed of some Spanish tree being blown across the Atlantic, landing in America and taking root. It grows in America, and nobody knows why the hell it grew there."
A critically acclaimed classical guitarist with over ten albums and a Grammy nomination to his credit, Fisk studied music at Yale University. It was there, in 1974, that he was introduced to Segovia, who coached Fisk for several years and would later call him "one of the most brilliant, intelligent and gifted young guitarists of our time."
"I met him at the end of his life, and he was much sweetened with age," Fisk notes. "The fact that I fell in love with his music and the fact that he also accepted me as one of his favorite pupils, that's not by chance. People vibrate along a similar wavelength, and so in fact it was quite normal that we got along as well as we did."
Pupil later became teacher. Fisk not only started the Guitar Department at the Yale School of Music in the seventies, but he's presently a professor of guitar at both the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He also directs outreach programs in the United States and Europe, taking his music to schools, churches, prisons and senior citizen centers.
"At this point, I'm much more interested in promoting the cause of music than I am in furthering my own career," Fisk says. "We have to change the way music is looked at in the society.The high schools are getting rid of music. It's a great tragedy. The country is killing itself, killing its soul."
Fisk plays Friday, February 5, at 7 p.m. at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, $12; Saturday, February 6, 2-3 p.m. at the Houston Zoological Gardens, free; and Tuesday, February 9, 7:30 p.m. at the Menil Collection (sold out). Fisk conducts a master class Sunday, February 7, 1-4 p.m. at the University of St. Thomas's Cullen Hall, $15. Call Da Camera at (713)524-5050.