Campbell Ross is a guitarist, composer, and teacher who lives in Brisbane Australia. He developed a passion for the guitar at an early age and almost immediately began writing for the instrument. Raised in New Zealand, Campbell won the Christchurch Guitar Competition before embarking on tertiary study at the Wellington Conservatorium of Music under the tutelage of Matthew Marshall. After completing his Bachelors Degree in Performance, he moved to Brisbane to continue his study under Julian Byzantine at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, completing a Masters in Performance.
While still a very active performer, Campbell is also a respected composer. His talent for composition has been formally recognized many times, including placing at the APRA Professional Development Awards and the New Zealand Classical Guitar Composition Competition. Campbell’s most recent compositions have been fueled by a desire to produce a fresh and invigorating style of music that challenges the more traditional perceptions of classical guitar, while extending the range of quality music emanating from the Asia-Pacific region. Campbell is a highly sought after teacher in Brisbane, having taught at both the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and the School of Music at the University of Queensland. He is also a published author—his ever-increasing body of educational material for classroom guitar programs has been adopted by many schools across Australia.
Today, Campbell is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to hear about the time Campbell performed for a dinner party on a jetty in the middle of a rainstorm…
Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?
When I was young, I spent a lot of time playing music from lots of different genres. For instance, my school had a very small music department so I played in the brass ensemble, jazz band, sang in the choir, and even played in the orchestra. Doing this opened my ears to certain pieces of music and musical styles rather than specific artists. Big band jazz music is still one of my favorite genres, but I also spent a lot of time playing Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Led Zeppelin. However, there was one recording that I was slightly obsessed with (Fragments of a Dream by Inti-Illimani featuring John Williams and Paco Peña) and would listen to repeatedly, trying to play along on my guitar.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I don’t think that I ever went through a period of ‘realization’ with regard to music and the role it played in my life. Earlier in my life I actually spent a great deal of time trying to realize dreams and aspirations that had nothing to do with music—things like writing books or becoming a professional sportsman! Music, however, has always been a core part of who I am, so being an artist has not been a realization as such, but more of an inevitability—for better or worse…
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
I remember performing as part of a group of four ‘roving’ guitarists at an outside dinner on a huge jetty flung into the sea. The wind was howling, the rain swept in after 40 minutes, and the whole thing became an absolute disaster. I’ve had people try to video and record me, holding microphones 30cm away and even sing along. My god, have there been some odd situations. When I was much younger, I played at a couple of retirement villages one year. I’m laughing as I write this, thinking of how, while half the room sang along, the other half were telling them to shut up because the news was on. Boy, oh boy.
What is your guilty pleasure?
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
Piano. Without a hesitation, piano.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
I was under a great deal of time and financial pressure in preparing and recording the Concertante (Tracks 1-3 on Disc 1). The ensemble met for the first time five days prior to recording and rehearsed for four hours, completing our recording and editing session within six. To get a good result we had to work precisely and quickly. James’ (percussion/drums) work on the suite was quite remarkable—he played like an instrumentalist, adding things to the arrangement that greatly enhanced the result. His performance is a favorite.
CONCERTANTE will be available through Ravello Records for streaming or purchase on November 9. Click here to pre-order.