William Jenks, President
William Jenks is a rare talent from a new generation of classical guitarists. Not only is he a world class recording artist, sought out for performances and master classes around the globe—he is also the Founder and President of a new nonprofit organization called U.S. Classic Guitar which will present concerts in Portland, Oregon and the Big Island of Hawaii for the first season and many more regions around the nation and beyond in the future.
Jenks began his musical career as a gifted singer, performing choral music at age six. As a youth he participated in a memorable Carnegie Hall performance of the Magnificat, under the celebrated composer and maestro John Rutter. After switching to guitar as a young man, Jenks would go on to record four widely-praised CDs, each supported by extensive touring. He gave a series of favorably received solo concerts in France, Germany, and Italy, and then became the first performer to play at the renovated Elgin Opera House, where, the Elgin Times noted, “he put on a tremendous show.”
Jenks established a strong presence on the festival circuit, with compelling performances at the Colorado Guitar Festival, the Portland Wine and Arts Festival, and the Festival Internacional de Guitarra in the Dominican Republic. The Boulder Colorado Classical Guitar Society, the Newport Performing Arts Center, Cycle Oregon, the local Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the Mottola, Italy International Guitar Festival, and the Fiuggi International Guitar Festival near Rome, Italy have all featured him. By popular demand, he has also appeared regularly in the Portland Classic Guitar Concert Series that he created.
Jenks has also focused much of his performance itinerary on the culturally rich region of Latin America. In 2014, he was invited by the Conservatorio Nacional De Musica (in the Dominican Republic) to perform Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major, and to judge a major classical guitar competition. He also performed numerous times in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and several places in Chile—including the 15th and 18th annual Festival Entrecuerdas, an international guitar festival that lasts through the month of October. While in Chile, Jenks traveled the countryside performing various concerts and teaching master classes.
Jenks now presents many concerts annually—often in tandem with master classes—and has earned a loyal following among professional musicians and casual music lovers alike. Most of these concerts sell out, and no wonder; past performers have included many legends of the guitar, some of who were visiting Portland for the first time. John Williams, David Russell, Eliot Fisk, and the Romeros—the latter drawing a record-breaking audience of 2300—have all performed for the Portland Classic Guitar Concert Series. But Jenks is equally supportive of the next generation of legends, presenting the U.S. debuts of such artists as Dimirtris Kotronakis (from Greece), Gerard Abiton (from France), and Ruben Gonzales (from Cuba), as well as some of the best local up-and-coming guitar talent.
In addition to performing, and stewarding the classical guitar series, Jenks was the brains behind the Portland Classic Guitar teaching studio, which since 2001 has provided invaluable instruction for hundreds of students of all ages and skill levels, many of whom have gone on to their own music careers. Indeed, Jenks is a much sought-after guitar instructor in Portland and Hawaii both at the university level and privately. He also teaches master classes internationally—most recently in July of 2018, to conservatory students at the Mottola and Fiuggi International Guitar Festivals in Italy, where he was also on the jury for two international guitar competitions. His approach has been informed by some of the best teachers in the world, including Portland guitarists David Franzen, Bryan Johanson, Scott Kritzer, and Dr. Ken Johnson (with whom Jenks studied at Colorado Christian University, where he graduated magna cum laude). As a teacher, Jenks generously shares wisdom gained from attending and performing in over 50 master classes of celebrated classical guitarists such as Christopher Parkening, Scott Tennant, Ricardo Iznaola, David Russell, Eliot Fisk, the Romeros, John Williams, and more.
Jenks’s contributions to music were honored by a gorgeous classical guitar, built by renowned luthier Jeffrey Elliott and gifted by an anonymous benefactor. In July 2015, Jenks also received an award from the Fiuggi International Guitar Festival, for his promotion of guitar music. Other recipients of this award have included the legendary composer Leo Brouwer, guitarist Eduardo Isaac, and others.
Jenks was on the music faculty at Marylhurst University as guitar instructor between 2015 and 2018 before its closure, where he trained classical guitar students working toward their degrees in music and directed the Marylhurst University Guitar Ensemble. Jenks also operated Portland Classic Guitar, a concert presenting organization, teaching studio and guitar shop through which he directed the aforementioned performance series. He presented fourteen concert seasons, with Portland Classic Guitar and was the only entity of its kind on the West Coast. Among the first featured performers was the renowned guitarist Ana Vidovic, who predicted that Jenks’s series would become “one of the most prestigious in the country”—a promise it has since fulfilled, as attested by a leading artist management company.