Just months after garnering national attention for his performance during Pope Francis’ inaugural visit to the United States, Polk State Music adjunct professor Benjamin Pila will perform at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Pila’s concert is scheduled for the afternoon of April 6.
During the event, Pila will play a 1953 Ignacio Fleta guitar from The Met’s collection. On its website, The Met describes Fleta as “one of the most important Spanish classical guitar builders of the 20th century.” The Met’s guitar was made early in Fleta’s career and is marked with the serial number of 50.
“It is an honor to play such a prestigious venue, on such a rare and historic instrument, and to be able to share the music I love,” said Pila, whose credentials include a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School.
For his engagement at The Met, Pila has selected a wide-ranging repertoire.
“I’m playing music from different times and places: I start with Latin American tangos from the early 20th century, then move up to America for some Appalachian folk songs, hop over the Atlantic to play some beautiful pieces from 18th-, 19th– and 20th-century Spain, head to Britain for a rock opera I arranged for solo guitar, and finish in Turkey with an exciting song about a 15th-century shepherd named Koyunbaba,” Pila said.
“I picked these pieces because I want to give the audience a glimpse of the breadth of music that the guitar is capable of playing.”
The Met will record Pila’s performance and may use it in its audio tours.
Pila will perform at The Met as part of YoungArts at The Met, a concert series presented by The Met’s Department of Musical Instruments. Miami-based National YoungArts Foundation was established in 1981 to nurture artistic talent.
While in New York, Pila will also perform during the YoungArts New York Inaugural Gala, hosted by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Plácido Domingo.
In 2002, Pila became the first — and is still the only — classical guitarist to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. YoungArts is the sole nominating agency of Presidential Scholars. The same year, Pila also won YoungArts’ Silver Award in Music.
Pila previously performed at The Met in 2013. He also previously performed at a YoungArts gala in Miami, where he played atop a ladder.
“YoungArts asked me how I could top that, so naturally I said, ‘suspended from the ceiling and playing upside down.’ I haven’t heard any details about where I’m playing during the gala, but hopefully they forgot what I said and I’ll be right-side up,” Pila quipped.
In September, Pila performed for Pope Francis at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. He began teaching at Polk State in 2014.
In addition to Music, Polk State’s arts programs include Theatre and Visual Arts, all of which enjoy outstanding statewide reputations.