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At noon on Thursday, classical guitarist Katie Holmes will perform a free concert at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University as a part of the museum’s weekly series, “A Little Lunch Music.” The concert is being sponsored by Seth and Linda Anderson.

Thursday’s performance marks Holmes’ third appearance at “Lunch Music.” Patrick McCurry, who coordinates the series, said her performance in 2013 when she was 15 years old was a terrific performance that garnered one of the biggest audiences that season.

“I still listen to the recording,” McCurry said.

Holmes currently studies at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music with Dr. Andrew Zohn. She said one of her biggest influences has been the variety of world-class classical guitarists visiting the school, including Paul Galbraith from Scotland and now Brazil, Johannes Möller from Sweden and an Italian duo called SoloDuo.

She said each teacher has a different focus, be it touch, repertoire or how they treat melody. Having exposure to different approaches, Holmes said, has shaped what she wants to do with her music.

Holmes said for a long time she has wanted to expand the audience for classical music. She once thought she might do that by playing classical arrangements of popular music. She said she loves pop, and even performs with CSU’s Popular Music Ensemble. But Holmes said her strategy for building an audience has changed. She now wants to find pieces that will draw people into discovering the guitar as a classical instrument.

As an example of this, Holmes will play the third movement of a sonata by Balkan composer Vojislav Ivanović. She said Ivanović has a very different style than most classical music, but it is not pop.

“People who are not used to classical music will probably be able to identify with it more than people who are familiar with classical music,” said Homes of Ivanović’s piece. “It is incredibly difficult and incredibly flashy,” she added.

The piece’s virtuosic nature and its ability to convey strong emotion also plays into how she wants to project herself as a performer. She likes Andrew Zohn's and others’ approach to using melody and phrasing as a means of communicating emotion.

Holmes said a lot of classical guitarists have a hard time breaking away from a reserved, conventional approach to the music. She said this often comes from a desire to play with good technique above all else. For instance, Bach’s music, some of which Holmes will perform Thursday, can be made boring, she said, especially by guitarists.

“I try to make it more interesting and lively,” she added.

A guitarist must have the technique to back up the emotion. Because of that, she said that she makes sure her technique is as solid as it can be. That way, she said, the emotion expressed during a performance will not derail the music.

“Energy and enthusiasm and power and almost recklessness is what I try to put into playing classical music, which is kind of hard, but also fun.” said Holmes.

The Museum Café is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The music can sometimes be heard inside the café, or visitors can dine before or after the concerts. Admission to the fine art exhibitions is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners. For more information, visit or call 334-844-1484.

Radio interview and performance

Radio interview and performance




Katie Holmes, winner of the first Fretbuzz video contest

We held a video competition for the month of March. The winner received $250. There were 15 great young guitarists who contributed videos showcasing their skills. The guitar professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Nicholas Ciraldo, judged the competition. The winner was Katie Holmes. She agreed to share a few thoughts with us about the experience. You can also check out the winning video below.

Katie Holmes is a young classical guitarist from Alabama.  She is currently studying under Dr. Andrew Zohn of Columbus State University. She is pursuing a degree in guitar performance as a Woodruff Artist and Honors student at the Schwob School of Music.

What did you learn from participating in the Fretbuzz video contest?

I was introduced to the Fretbuzz website, which I think is pretty fantastic; I heard a different arrangement of Bach’s 1st Cello Suite, which I now want to play; and it provided a great opportunity to be introduced to other great young musicians in the US who I and everyone else might not have been able to hear otherwise.

Do you have any special plans for the prize money?

Not particularly; any money like this that I receive I consider my income, so I put it into savings to help fund my current and future musical endeavors. In this instance, though, it will probably be used to help defray the cost of the album I’m releasing on April 15th (my first full-length album!).

What are your goals for the near future?

Graduating from Columbus State University with my Bachelor of Music Performance degree, and continuing to improve my accuracy and musicality in my playing. I’m also starting to write instrumental music, and I want to play more concerts.

What are your long-term goals?

First and foremost I want to be a performer. I want to have fun and share music with the world. I’m working on becoming fluent in Spanish and I hope to have a working knowledge of Portuguese and Italian so I can travel to more places more easily. I also want to keep learning as much as possible about music, because it’s an absolutely fascinating subject.

What is something unrelated to guitar that is unique or interesting about you?

I’ve been in college since I was 14. I’ve been at Columbus State since I was 15. Ever since I was about 3 I’ve read and loved mythologies and folk tales from all different cultures. I know the basic stories of nearly all the figures from Ancient Greek mythology, and I know almost as much about the Norse and Egyptian tales.

Anything else you’d like to add?

When I was accepted to Columbus State I also was awarded one of the prestigious Woodruff Scholarships. Funded by the Woodruff Family, it pays for tuition, room & board, and also provides a $5000 stipend per year for four years. This stipend will allow me to participate in a study abroad program to Florence, Italy this spring, and the family’s scholarship itself is allowing me to attend one of the best universities for classical guitar in the country.




Dear Katherine "Katie" Holmes, 

I am pleased to inform you that the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University has selected you to receive Phi Kappa Phi’s Outstanding First-Year Student Award.  Congratulations! 

Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective honor society that covers all academic disciplines.  While you are not yet eligible for membership in Phi Kappa Phi, you have made such a positive impact on your department due to your dedication to academics and service that they have chosen to recognize you for your accomplishments.  Phi Kappa Phi, its officers and members, are pleased to be able to honor you with this award.


Dr. Becky Becker, President

Columbus State University Chapter 185

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi


National YoungArts Foundation Announces
2014 YoungArts Winners

Katherine Holmes of Phenix City, Alabama is a YoungArts Merit Winner in Classical Guitar

MIAMI, FL (December 23, 2013) – Katherine Holmes of Phenix City, Alabama, who hails from Columbus State University, is a National YoungArts Foundation Merit Winner in Classical Guitar. Out of approximately 11,000 applications from students in ten disciplines across the literary, performing, visual and design arts fields, Ms. Holmes has been recognized for her outstanding work and accomplishments. A complete list of this year’s 687 Winners is available online at this link.

“Every year I look forward to reviewing our applications because each one is so inspiring,” stated Paul T. Lehr, President & CEO of the National YoungArts Foundation. “I congratulate all 687 Winners who are incredibly talented and are who we consider to be the most promising young artists in America today.”

For more information, visit Select this link to see a brief video about YoungArts.




From noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, from noon to 1 p.m., guitarist Katie Holmes will perform a free concert at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. This is part of the weekly series, A Little Lunch Music.

Sponsoring Thursday’s performance is Jeff and Carol Jakeman.

Formerly home-schooled, Holmes is a 15-year-old freshman at Auburn University at Montgomery. She said she started studying guitar at 4-years-old, and two years later won a medal at a young musicians’ competition called Musicfest Northwest in Spokane, Wash., where she lived. This led to a radio performance on KBPX public radio in Spokane.

“It’s actually very uncommon,” said Holmes about starting guitar so young. Before her own studying began, Holmes would sit and watch her grandmother’s guitar lessons.

“I was learning all the things my grandmother was learning, and seemed extremely interested,” said Holmes.

At 7 years old, Holmes and her family moved to Montgomery when her father was assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base. She said she quickly began studies with Andrew Zohn, who teaches guitar at Columbus State University. She will transfer to CSU in fall 2013, having received the Woodruff Scholarship and the school’s Honors Scholarship.

Holmes has recorded a CD, called “Prelude,” which will be available to purchase after Thursday’s concert.

One of her favorite pieces on Thursday’s program will be “Tango en Skai” by French composer and guitarist Roland Dyens. She said it is a kind of imitation or spoof of a tango.

“It follows the rules of the tango to the letter, and therefore is less like a tango than most tangos,” she said.

Among other pieces, Holmes will play a transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, arranged by Zohn, and a Sonatina by Federico Moreno Torroba.

12-year-old an Accomplished Guitarist, Budding Scholar


Success cannot easily be quantified, as it tends to be very different for each person even though his or her accomplishments may be numerous.

For 12-year-old Katie Holmes, although she may not necessarily think so, the accomplishments she has already racked up during her young life would spell success to many that meet her.

According to Holmes' mom, Pam, her daughter has been participating in her favorite thing, playing classical guitar, for a long time.

"At age 4, while living in Spokane, Wash., Katie sat alongside as her maternal grandmother started up folk-style, steel string, acoustic guitar lessons," said Pam Holmes. "Katie had such a knack for it that before long, she started taking guitar lessons, too. At age 5, we found a classical guitar teacher, bought a nylon string guitar, and Katie hasn't looked back since.

That experience began the girl's steadily advancing skill set on a guitar, which has already earned her many accolades.

"When we moved to Alabama in 2005, we connected with Dr. Andrew Zohn at the Schwob School of Music in Columbus, Ga. Every week now for over five years, we've driven over to Columbus for classical guitar lessons," said Holmes. "Under his guidance, Katie has performed in master classes with classical guitar luminaries such as David Russell and Jason Vieaux and placed in numerous competitions, including first place in both the Columbus State University and East Carolina University middle school guitar competitions before she was 12."

Katie Holmes maintains a humble attitude about what she's accomplished and may accomplish in the future in the field of classical music.

"I enjoy playing guitar for an audience, and I think I have a competitive spirit," Katie said. "I love being in guitar competitions, even when I don't place in them. I enjoy and appreciate people's comments on my playing ability, and I think I play pretty well. Practicing at home, knowing that it is several months before I can play my pieces in front of people, is pretty frustrating, but it's definitely worth all the hours when I get on stage."

On top of her skill as a guitarist, the young girl, whose mom and brother live in Prattville with her and whose father is stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, also loves to learn.

Holmes has been homeschooled for years and her mom has supplemented her schooling at a Millbrook-based co-op.

"We have gone to great lengths to provide academically challenging experiences for her. She's done an online writing class through Johns Hopkins CTY, a Robotics Camp at Auburn, and an intensive academic summer camp through Duke TIP," said Pam Holmes. "While each of those did succeed in challenging her, she has been equally challenged by some of the classes she's taken locally through Academy Days' homeschool co-op in Millbrook."

The 12-year-old has taken writing courses that her mom says have been very challenging for her, as well as an Introductory Arabic class, which incorporates the same curriculum in use in high schools and colleges. The student has also taken history, science, and cooking classes at the co-op.

"Co-op allows Katie to get the classroom experience she loves -- and which, we've recently discovered, many top colleges look for when evaluating homeschoolers -- while maintaining the flexibility to pursue her many interests," said her mom. "We've participated in co-op three of the last four semesters."

Katie seems destined for accomplishment but maintains a cautionary view of what she will end up doing.

"When I'm older, I think I might like to be a professional musician. It would be fun to travel around the world playing guitar, and I also like to teach people, which is usually a big part of being a classical musician," she said. "As a second career, I'm thinking of going into robotics, and someday I want to build a robot that will help with the rehabilitation of disabled children through both physical and musical therapy."

Holmes said that one of the best things she did to encourage her daughter over the last several years was to encourage her, sit with her while she practiced her music and include Katie's competitions into the family dynamic, including taking family vacations around her guitar events.

Holmes added that, "a little one-on-one parental attention while tackling a challenging piece of music goes a long way. While she still doesn't like the hard work that defines real practicing, she loves the sound of music that has been well-learned and so continues to make progress, on her own now, every day."

So far this year, Katie has been a top scholar in the National Latin Exam, placed in the top three at the University of Alabama's Digital Film Festival in both the individual and team middle school competitions, and was honored by the Duke TIP seventh-grade talent search at the Grand Recognition Ceremony at Duke University.

She is currently dual-enrolled at Faulkner University taking music classes in the school's Fine Arts Department.


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