April 12, 2021
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University Department of music graduating senior Craig Winston received a scholarship to pursue graduate studies in classical guitar at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music.
Winston, a Las Vegas, New Mexico native, completes his bachelor’s degree in music from Highlands in May 2021 with a principal emphasis in classical guitar performance and also an emphasis in vocal performance.
“I have been a professional musician for the past five years, including work as a private guitar instructor,” Winston said. “I decided in 2019 that I wanted to take my music career to a higher level and obtaining a bachelor’s and then master’s degree is part of that.
“Highlands gave me the unique opportunity to complete my music degree, my second bachelor’s degree, during a difficult time in the world given the pandemic. Highlands is a welcoming and supportive music department. The weekly recitals have been an excellent resource for getting to know other students and showcase the work I’ve done in my courses as well. I will take that sense of community with me,” Winston said.
Winston said it’s hard to pick just one Highlands music faculty member who influenced him the most.
“Dr. Edward Harrington taught me a ton about music technology which is extremely useful, and I intend to use those skills to record a classical guitar album this summer. Dr. Garcia-Nuthmann has been an excellent help with voice, and he has also helped me develop better musicality in general. Kevin Zoernig is one of the best jazz instructors I’ve ever worked with. Highlands hired Dr. Patrick Sutton from Denver to teach me guitar via Zoom. He’s an amazing teacher and mentor,” Winston said.
“Craig is one of the most serious and talented students we’ve ever had in our music program at Highlands,” said music professor Andre García-Nuthmann. “The thing that impresses me most about Craig is his incredible work ethic. When combined with his natural talents, this creates a foundation for a very promising career as a professional musician. I have no doubt Craig will be highly successful.”
Winston composes his own music.
“I started as a rock musician but have branched out into composing for classical guitar and arranging for jazz ensemble. I performed my classical guitar composition, “Straniero,” as part of my fall semester 2020 recital at Highlands,” Winston said.
Since 2012, Winston’s recording experience includes a number of albums recorded with musical ensembles like Thy Shade in Denver, two with The Dead Superheroes Orchestra in Chicago, and two with The Walking Shadows in Chicago. His album work includes guitar, vocals, and production and editing.
Winston said he loves performing all styles of music.
“I envision a future in which I get to do that at a high level as a soloist and with many different groups, touring internationally. Guitar is a great instrument because it’s very versatile with ensembles. The pursuit of classical guitar is particularly exciting because it opens a whole other realm of performance opportunities that were not available to me via rock or jazz. I hope to find many opportunities in the rock club, pit orchestra, or the recital hall,” Winston said.
Looking ahead after completing his master’s degree, Winston said he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in guitar performance.
“This is part of a larger career goal of being a touring performer, instructor, and composer. I have a diverse musical background, so I envision a career teaching classical and jazz, as well as rock and popular music,” Winston said.