Classical Guitar Alive!
“Music by American Composers”
“Classical Guitar Alive!” with Tony Morris is an internationally broadcast weekly program on NPR. To listen, you can check your local listings and visit for participating stations and complete webcast archives.
“This week's Classical Guitar Alive! Radio program features performances by LAGQ, Benjamin Verdery and Ufonia, Kim Perlak, and Christopher Teves.” In this episode, Kim performs “Barton’s Blues” by Robert Honstein.
Christian Science Monitor
“Ballet in the kitchen? What arts majors learned during lockdown.”
“I mean that’s our life as artists. … Can you adapt? Can you stay creative? Can you stay connected?” says Kim Perlak, chair of the guitar department at Berklee School of Music in Boston. “Everybody right now in 2020, we all proved it, that’s true. You know, if that’s going to be our legacy of this [time], I’ll take it.”
“The importance that the Berklee College of Music has had on the development of the guitar in the last half of the 20th century and beyond cannot be overstated. Ever since the Boston institution first offered guitar as a principal instrument, in 1962, it has been a breeding ground for some of the world’s great players—from improvisers like Bill Frisell and Emily Remler to highly technical rockers like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai to idiosyncratic singer-songwriters like Bruce Cockburn and St. Vincent. A walk past Berklee’s main campus, on Boylston Street, finds throngs of students with their guitar cases and gigbags, suggesting the instrument’s continuing prominence at the school.
Given all that, it’s surprising that in almost 60 years Berklee has only had four chairs of its guitar department. When Kim Perlak took this position last fall, she became the first woman to do so, and the first classical guitarist, as all three of her predecessors—Larry Baione, William Leavitt, and Jack Peterson, in reverse chronological order—had been jazz-oriented. But, presiding over about 1,000 guitar students who play in many different styles, Perlak is hardly the stuffy classical pedagogue.
A native of Western Massachusetts, Perlak, who is in her mid-40s, developed an affinity for the classical guitar at an early age. That’s thanks to sophisticated teachers and time spent in the Berkshires, where she was exposed to the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the orchestra’s summer home. While Perlak solidified her technique and repertoire in the 1990s and ’00s—she has a BM from Stetson University, an MM from the Yale University School of Music, and a DMA from the University of Texas at Austin—she expanded her musical thinking and came to develop a voice on the classical guitar that’s modern yet firmly rooted in tradition, not to mention an openness to collaborating with musicians from outside of the classical world.”
"In the fall of 2018, Dr. Kim Perlak was named chair of the acclaimed guitar department at Berklee College of Music. She is the first woman to hold this position at the college, and only the fourth person ever to hold the position since the college added guitar as a principal instrument in 1962."
““The ‘Berklee style’ is having an equal respect for tradition and innovation in guitar playing,” she says. “Knowing your instrument, learning how to learn, and understanding how to be a good colleague—those things are constants.”… When it was founded in 1961, the department was the first of its kind, and Perlak stresses the deep responsibility and privilege she feels in “carrying on the tradition that has been built so beautifully by so many of our faculty and students, and then taking a look at where we’re all going together.” In a department where it’s not unheard of to spot four generations of faculty and students eating together in the common area, this spirit of ongoing community and collaboration makes perfect sense. “This belongs to you,” Perlak recalls saying to a new student. “This is our department together.””
“As the first woman to lead Berklee's storied Guitar Department, Kim's combined skillset as a performer, educator, community musical activist, and compassionate human being, exemplifies all the best that we hope for our students, faculty, and staff,” said Ron Savage, dean of the Professional Performance Division. “Her vision and strong ideas bode well for the department to remain the leader in contemporary music education.”
"“Every guitar player I know has had to realize they’re not breathing,” said Tronzo, professor in the Guitar Department, to knowing laughter from the audience. He pointed out that while the guitar isn’t considered a “breath instrument” in the way of woodwinds or brass, breathing is still crucial to technique and relaxation while playing… Perlak, chair of Berklee’s Guitar Department, agreed. “You need deep breaths and then the blood can flow,” she said, before demonstrating several riffs of the type Tronzo had mentioned."
Sounds of Berklee
“As a player and an educator, Berklee's new Guitar Department chair balances deep roots in tradition with stylistically diverse collaborations.”
For Guitar Players Only
Video Interview (2017)
"Guitarist Kim Perlak, assistant chair at Berklee College of Music talks about her playing and her influences."
“A Softer Side of the Cactus”
“On one of Austin’s most revered songwriter’s stages, the ghosts are speaking to classical guitarists these days, nudging them into a different kind of storytelling… Perlak’s set was a sort of songwriter’s circle – just without the lyrics… Perlak’s playing already conjures up more sensations than one usually expects, but because she chose mostly recent pieces by friends and mentors, we are rewarded with the insight behind the tunes. And she has stories about them all… Throughout her thoughtful, enchanting set, Perlak’s vivid stories made the abstract slightly more concrete.”
Classical Guitar Alive!
February 16, 2016
“Classical Guitar Alive!” with Tony Morris is an internationally broadcast weekly program on NPR. To listen, you can check your local listings and visit http://www.classicalguitaralive.org for participating stations and complete webcast archives.
“This week’s edition of Classical Guitar Alive! is devoted to music by performer/composers, and features interviews with several of today’s leading virtuoso guitarist composers, including Michael Nicolella, John Williams, Sergio Assad, Roland Dyens…Composer and Grammy-winning LA Guitar Quartet member Andrew York discusses the meaning of the title of his piece “Transilience” for flute, guitar, and cello, and how it differs from most of his solo guitar compositions. Guitarist Kim Perlak is joined by flutist Yong Clark, and cellist Cathy Anderson in a recording at Yale University.”
Yale School of Music
"Perlak's latest project, "Ben and I Play For Peace," has attracted national press. Three “Ben and I Play for Peace” concerts will take place on April 3, 2011 at 3 pm in Austin, Tex.; Denver, Colo.; and Sarasota, Fla. The concerts will present the world premiere of a work by Benjamin Verdery, a faculty member at the Yale School of Music. Proceeds will benefit a program called Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids."
The New Haven Independent
"The Verder-Sphere Explored"
“Eyes closed, Kim Perlak returned us to earth—then hypnotized us into Om-like reverie—with “Keanae.” When she reached for the bottleneck slide, she took us on a slow, yearning journey up and down the top strings.”