Featured Performer: Ben Pila (2002, FL)

Benjamin Pila is the only classical guitarist ever named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Pila has performed extensively throughout the United States at venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center in New York City, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.

Pila is a semi-regular performer at the 9/11 Memorial Museum where he’s performed for Pope Francis, three U.S. presidents, and has played on programs with James Taylor, Paul Simon, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma. Pila’s debut CD, Commemoration, contains music he performed at the museum and is a tribute to the survivors and victims of 9/11.

Pila has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, NPR’s From the Top, and was awarded ASCAP’s Best Performance of a Contemporary Work. Pila performed the World Premier of two guitar concerti: Michael Gilbertson’s Concerto for Guitar and Strings (2013) with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Troy Gifford’s Concertino (2003) with the Florida Southern College Orchestra. Recently, Pila performed as a soloist with the Florida Orchestra as part of the 30th anniversary world tour of Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy.

Pila is a Grand Prize winner of the Pacific Guitar Festival, the Tampa Bay Symphony Concerto Competition, and the University of Southern California Guitar Concerto Competition. He is a YoungArts Silver Award winner and has won prizes in the Texas International Guitar Competition, the Yamaha 6-String Theory Guitar Competition, and the American String Teacher’s Association National Solo Competition.

Pila received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, his master’s degree from The Juilliard School, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California. Dr. Pila currently lives in Tampa, Florida, and is a professor of guitar and humanities at Polk State College.