Classical guitarist and Whidbey native returns for concert

Sean Vaughn Owen is a classical guitarist and musical scholar who will return to his native Whidbey for a performance on Saturday

An island boy with supple fingers and a mountain of musical degrees and experience returns home for a special performance.

It has been nearly eight years since native islander and virtuoso classical guitarist Sean Vaughn Owen has been home to give a musical recital.

Owen will perform at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, along with his friend, the virtuoso pianist and composer, Stephen Fandrich at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20.

Owen has completed three master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in musicology.

During his period of study, Owen concentrated heavily on developing his musicianship as a guitarist, while also conducting extensive research and writing about the obscure English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, who wrote music for piano.

Owen recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, making his home in Seattle. Although he has traveled all over the world, Owen still considers Whidbey to be his true home, but not just because its where his mother still lives.

“Every time I step on the ferry or cross Deception Pass Bridge, I am overwhelmed by an immense feeling of nostalgic satisfaction; I have returned home,” he said.

Understandably, Owen has been thoughtful in choosing which music to play for his hometown audience.

The repertoire will feature classical guitar works by Agustín Barrios, Domenico Scarlatti and Francisco Tárrega; Fandrich will follow at the piano with Alexander Scriabin and Frederic Chopin.

An intermission will be followed by compositions for the guitar with a Japanese theme, including works by Toru Takemitsu, a homage to Takemitsu by the great Cuban composer Leo Brouwer and the evocative “Sakura Variations” by Yuquijiro Yocoh. Several of these pieces will be on Owen’s next CD.

Fandrich will finish the concert with some of his original compositions, a Rachmaninoff piece and a piano transcription of an extended guitar solo by the late eclectic rocker, Frank Zappa.

Fandrich and Owen have been longtime comrades in the world of music, having started their studies in music together at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

Owen said the two musicians share a similar sensitivity to the aesthetics of sound.

“Giving concerts with Stephen has been a joy; not only is he a dear friend, he is also a musical inspiration,” Owen said.

The WICA audience can look forward to an enjoyable night of solo music, Owen said, some serious and some more lighthearted.

Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and youths and $10 for those 12 and younger.

Call the box office at 221-8268, or visit