The American guitarist, Kevin R. Gallagher, began his musical training, like many classical guitarists, with rock guitar, but soon became interested in jazz and classical. His talent led him to study with Benjamin Verdery at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Sharon Isbin at the Juilliard School. As a classical guitarist, has received top honors at some of the most prestigious guitar competitions in the world, including the 1993 Guitar Foundation of America, the 1994 American String Teachers Association, the 1993 Artists International Competition, and 1997 Francisco Tárrega Guitar Competition in Spain.
Following his studies at Julliard, Kevin R. Gallagher gave many classical guitar performances and master-classes throughout the world, including those in Spain, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, and England. Later he bacame once again interested in the electric guitar. "Through the 90's I only owned and performed classical guitar. In 1998 I just got the sudden urge to walk into a music shop and try their Les Pauls. I hadn't touched an electric in years. I fell in love with one and bought it on the spot. All the electric guitar techniques I knew came back instantly and my classical technique opened up many more possibilities than I had ever had before."
Kevin R. Gallagher has achieved success with both the electric guitar and the classical guitar. In the summer of 2001, he decided to expand the scope of his concert programs to also include works for electric guitar. Since then, he has performed concerts using the classical guitar for more traditional repertoire and the electric guitar for contemporary music. As an electric guitarist, he is known for transcribing violin music for electric guitar and for founding the chamber rock quartet Electric Kompany (electric guitar, electric bass, drums and keyboards). He has also produced, in cooperation with John Zorn, a music festival titled "Full Force: The New Rock Complexity" that showcases bands that have combined styles such as classical, rock, jazz, and metal. He now performs solo music on electric guitar by composers such as Steve Reich and Rob Haskins. With Electric Kompany, he has arranged music by Jacob ter Veldhuis, Marc Mellits, and is is active in encouraging composers to write new music for the quartet. This unique approach to composition is widening the audience and interest for new music as well as educating composers who never have the chance to study these modern instruments in a traditional conservatory education.
"Performing on classical guitar and electric guitar is very different,' says Gallagher, "but there are similarities in my approach. Sound and color is very important to me. With both styles, I choose sounds depending on the piece and the mood I'm trying to convey. Articulation, dynamics and rhythm are also approached in the same way. Musically, I think my head is the same. Technically, there are a lot of differences. Using a pick is the obvious one, but the electric guitar also requires more string muting to keep the sound under control. There is also the pickup selector, tone controls and the endless variety of programmable effects I can use. So, I have similar musical ideas, but I'm using a different palette to convey them."
Kevin R. Gallagher has recorded four classical guitar CDs. His recording for Naxos Records "Guitar Recital - Music from the Renaissance and Baroque" was hailed as "...one of the very best Naxos guitar recordings" by Classical Guitar Magazine (London) in 2000. Other recordings include: a duo CD with Antigoni Goni titled "Evocacion," and an EP featuring his work on solo electric guitar and with Electric Kompany.