Turkish Stringed Instrument
Turkish Stringed Instrument

Cross-cultural musician, Greg Herriges and his band, StellaRoma, will be performing at the MSU Elias J. Halling Recital Hall on January 22nd at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available on the MSU Music Department’s site.

To whet your appetite about what kind of performance to expect, Greg was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Photo courtesy of Greg Herriges -Greg Herriges, Minnesota
Photo courtesy of Greg Herriges -Greg Herriges, Minnesota

A Little Background Information

What would you like us to know about your family, friends or pets?

Many of my compositions are inspired by cats or other non-human influences.

Where do you live and work? Where are you from?

I live in St. Paul and work mostly in the Midwest. I grew up in various places around the Midwest, finally landing in Minneapolis about 20 years ago. After some short stints in other places, I always have been drawn back to Minnesota.

All of my influences, from rock to classical to jazz to Hindustani music, whirl around inside and come out however they want to.

Minnesota is a great place for artists. The state supports the arts, and there are thriving pockets of world music here (as well as art of all kinds). I’ve been lucky enough to win fellowships and grants from the Bush and McKnight Foundations, the Metro Regional Arts Council, and the Minnesota State Arts Board.

The Twin Cities are full of people from many different cultural traditions that keep me inspired. The natural influences of the seasons are also very inspiring.


About the Music

Tell us about what you do.

I play original and traditional “progressive world music” on guitar and Greek bouzouki, with various others including Indian tabla and vocal, world percussion, Chapman stick, and Chinese pipa. I also create theater and film music and write instructional music books. Performing is my lifeblood. I get equal soul satisfaction playing with cross-cultural ensembles or letting one guitar play me.

Photo courtesy of Greg Herriges - Greg Herriges and Michael Bissonnette
Photo courtesy of Greg Herriges – Greg Herriges and Michael Bissonnette

How and when did you start?

With a background in progressive rock and finger style guitar, I studied ethnomusicology (traditional World music), focusing on Indian, Indonesian, and East Asian classical traditions. Through that I was introduced to a lot of the “ethnic” musicians I have worked with.

I went on to edit and write music books for Hal Leonard Publishing, specializing in world music for guitar. After working as in-house editor in their Milwaukee office for two years, I went freelance, returned to Minnesota, and the current phase of my “whirled” music career began.

How did you learn?

I started on piano and taught myself to play guitar and bouzouki. Most of my learning was experiential, but my ethnomusicology studies in college really kickstarted my exploration of world music. I am a lifelong student of everything, and my favorite musical projects are those that teach me something new.

What is your process?

All of my influences, from rock to classical to jazz to Hindustani music, whirl around inside and come out however they want to.

I’m most interested in creating new music, and that’s what I believe happens when all of these disparate influences seep out. I like to integrate different styles, rather than try to copy something traditional or lay one style over another.

Sometimes the process is easy; sometimes it’s painstaking, especially in collaboration. But I am most satisfied when the end result doesn’t sound like anything traditional.

What is your favorite part?

Performing. Sharing these discoveries with others. Interacting with audiences and other musicians.

What has surprised you?

That I was able to make a living doing it!

Where can people find your music?

My CDs & songs are on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby, etc… and at my gigs!

Additional Links

Greg Herriges Website
Greg Herriges on Facebook
StellaRoma on Facebook
Greg Herriges on SoundCloud
Greg Herriges on YouTube