Wright State music graduate Michael Bard plays Carnegie Hall, helps veterans with PTSD

Michael Bard is a Wright State music performance graduate and classical guitarist.

Wright State University alumnus Michael Bard recently performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous venues in the world. While that by itself is noteworthy, he has another reason to be overjoyed, as do military veterans.

“I sold out Carnegie Hall!” Bard said from his home in Bethesda, Maryland.

The 1991 Wright State music performance graduate and classical guitarist said, “An hour before the concert started the stage manager said we had two tickets left. Fifteen minutes later he said we sold out. That’s a feather in my cap.”

Bard performed on Nov. 4 in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, which seats about 500.

“It’s perfect for the classical guitar,” the Dayton native said. “The acoustics are absolutely amazing. I didn’t need a microphone.”

How did this come about? “I’ve been fortunate enough to play all over the world,” he said. “Some friends asked what’s next on my plate. I said, ‘Carnegie Hall.’ They said, ‘Let’s make it happen. You’ve already played the Kennedy Center, did State Department tours.’ The opportunity presented itself.”

Bard performed works by Bach, Spanish masters Granados and Tarrega, and the world premiere of his composition “Mediterranean Beauty.”

“When I looked out in the audience, I saw more faces I didn’t recognize than those I did,” Bard said. “I got two standing ovations. It was a wonderful feeling. I was on cloud nine.”

He was joined on stage by Chilean guitarist Benjamin Schnake, tenor Jesus Daniel Hernandez and soprano Aurora Dainer.

Apart from their musical bond, the musicians also have an interest in helping military veterans. A portion of the concert’s proceeds went to the Veterans Repertory Theatre, a nonprofit organization that provides creative outlets for veterans.

“This was a tribute to veterans,” Bard said.

Bard has an ongoing participation with Marlow Guitar International’s Regis Ferruzza Guitars for Veterans, which offers music lessons and performance as therapy for those who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“It’s an opportunity for me to teach vets who have PTSD,” Bard said. “They get a free guitar, lessons, a method book. It helps them through a creative outlet.”

Bard’s empathy and creativity were honed at Wright State.

“It helped me focus on what I was planning on doing — making a living as a musician, educator, composer,” he said. “It prepared me for getting ready to do all of those things, which thankfully I’ve done on a macro level. I can’t believe all the opportunities it helped prepare me for over the years.”

He studied classical guitar at Wright State with Jim McCutcheon, who is now an adjunct professor of classical guitar. McCutcheon recalls Bard well.

“He was a very attentive student who had come to love the guitar after hearing the rock band Kiss,” McCutcheon said. “He was always positive about learning about the classical style of guitar playing and how it could be applied to other styles of guitar performance, which he has done so splendidly throughout his career.”

Bard returned to Wright State in 2008 for a reunion concert of guitar graduates that McCutcheon produced to help create a guitar scholarship and performed with his wife, Deborah Benner the following year in the Wright State Artist Series. Bard was also selected as an Outstanding Alumnus of the former Department of Music.

“His approach to his career has been creative and effective,” McCutcheon said.

Bard looks forward to returning to Wright State again.

“I would love to come back and give a hometown concert,” he said. “It would be my pleasure and delight to make that happen. If I can play Carnegie Hall, I can put some people in the seats at the Creative Arts Center.”

Comments are closed.