Liona Boyd holds a unique position in the world of classical guitar. Through her composition talents, extensive international touring and twenty record albums she has developed a loyal following and is acknowledged as one of the world's leading classical guitarists.
Born in London, England, Liona came to Canada at age eight and gave her first "concert" on the treble recorder as part of the ocean liners' talent competition. At age 14 she asked her parents for a guitar as a Christmas present. After hearing the great English guitarist, Julian Bream, Liona determined to master the instrument and took lessons with Eli Kassner. Private classes with Narcisco Yepes, Andres Segovia, Alirio Diaz and Bream himself followed and helped refine her musicianship. Christopher Parkening wrote, "Liona is one of the most excellent guitarists I have ever heard" and Segovia said "I predict that Liona will have a magnificent career."
Liona completed a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance at The University of Toronto where she graduated with honors and won first prize in the Canadian National Music Competition. After two years of private study with Alexandre Lagoya in Paris, Liona returned to North America and recorded her first album for Boot/London Records. Her debut at Carnegie Recital Hall received rave reviews and The New York Times praised her "flair for brilliance."
Liona began to give concerts around the globe, playing with symphonies and participating in international festivals from Rio de Janeiro to Istanbul, New Delhi, Seoul, Havana, Paris and Tokyo. In North America she toured extensively as a solo artist, as well as performing with such orchestras as The Boston Pops under John Williams and guesting on numerous television shows and specials including several appearances on The Tonight Show.
Liona believes that "music contributes profoundly to the richness and beauty of life. I feel so fortunate to be able to share this wonderful international language with people around the world."
Breaking with classical tradition, she has toured with Gordon Lightfoot and Tracy Chapman, and recorded with Roger Whittaker and Georges Zamfir. As a soloist Liona became the first performer ever to play in the new Paris Opera House. A highly successful recording career for CBS/Sony Records brought Liona Boyd's guitar music to a large international audience. The Canberrra Times in Australia wrote, "Breathtakingly beautiful playing, the most musically accomplished and technically flawless playing I have heard from any guitarist."
Her records cover a wide range of music from baroque repertoire recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra under Andrew Davis to two Christmas albums, a joint recording with Chet Atkins, Persona, her new age/pop project produced by Michael Kamen and including Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Yo-Yo Ma, and a live record made in Tokyo. Liona often performs her own music as well as works composed especially for her and her playing was featured in the 20th Century Fox film A Walk in the Clouds which won a Golden Globe Award for best musical score.
"The First Lady of the Guitar" has had the opportunity to play private concerts for dozens of world leaders such as the British Royal Family, the King and Queen of Spain, the Presidents of the United States and Mexico, the Prime Ministers of Canada, France and Britain, and the Chancellor of Germany, as well as at NATO and Summit Conferences. Invited by Moscow's Mayor, Gavrill Popov, Liona became the first Canadian to perform at the Kremlin when she played there at an exclusive New Yearis Eve gala during the last hour of the Soviet Union's existence.
Her virtuoso talents have been recognized by many gold and platinum records, five Juno Awards, four honorary degrees, and The Order of Canada. In addition, she is a five-time winner of the Guitar Player Magazine poll for top classical guitarist and has been inducted into their "Gallery of Greats."
In 1999 the CBC broadcast a one-hour television special Romancing the Guitar - The Life and Times of Liona Boyd. Recent CD releases include The Spanish Album and Whispers of Love in which Liona reads the poetry of Garcia Lorca and Pablo Neruda while playing the guitar. Her best-selling autobiography "In My Own Key - My Life in Love and Music" which was published in Canada in 1998 by Stoddart (General Publishing), was released in the U.S.A. in the fall of 1999.
Although still a Canadian, Liona now resides in California from where she maintains a busy schedule of recording and touring.