Founded in 2010, the Atlantic Guitar Quartet is a contemporary music ensemble dedicated to promoting the music of living composers.  Through virtuosic performances, innovative programming and collaborations with other visual and performing artists, AGQ has broadened the repertoire for – and the definition of – the classical guitar quartet.

Each of the four members, Mark Edwards, James Keretses, Matthew Slotkin and Zoë Johnstone Stewart have enjoyed extensive solo and chamber performing careers prior to joining the ensemble.  As a group AGQ has performed as part of the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society concert series, Ulster Chamber Series, Evolution Contemporary Music series, and at Salisbury University, York College of Pennsylvania, Loyola University, Marshall University and the Peabody Institute.   They have been artists-in-residence at the Engineers Club of the Garret-Jacobs Mansion in Baltimore since 2010 and members of the Maryland State Arts Council Touring Roster since 2017.   In addition to their performances, the quartet has also been invited to teach master classes and workshops at the Peabody Summer Guitar Intensive, Salisbury University, Bloomsburg University and the Mid Atlantic Guitar Ensemble Festival. 

AGQ has been proactive in expanding the repertoire of the classical guitar quartet by commissioning new works.  With major institutional support by the Presser Foundation and the Peabody Conservatory, AGQ has premiered pieces by American composers Vid Smooke, Christopher Gainey and Ronald Pearl.  Several of these works, along with music by composer Olivier Bensa and Arvo Pärt, are featured on the quartet’s debut CD (released in November of 2013).

The quartet’s other world premieres include performances of works by Joshua Bornfield (written for AGQ and commissioned by the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society), Judah Adashi, Olga Amelkina-Vera, Lewis Krauthamer (in performance with Gene Young and the Peabody Camerata), Julien Xuereb, Alan Thomas, Aaron Silverstein and Jerry Tabor (in a premiere recording).

Individual Bios

Guitarist Mark Edwards has been hailed by the Montgomery Advertiser as a player who “transfers to another zone, effortlessly strumming, plucking and picking a variety of classical masterpieces with clarity.” Susan Brall says, “If you want to hear the best, you will want to catch Mark Edwards performing…His talent is unbelievable.”

Mark began his life's dedication to the classical guitar after seeing guitarist Benjamin Verdery perform a concert in Boaz, Alabama. For further inspiration, he looked to the great masters of the guitar, such as Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, and David Russell.  Mark’s major teachers during this formative time were Dr. Andrew Zohn and Douglas Back.   Mark earned his undergraduate diploma Magna Cum Laude from Columbus State University’s Honors Program, his Master of Music in Guitar Performance and Guitar Pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of Music, and his Graduate Performance Diploma also from Peabody. 

Mark has been performing concerts since the young age of 14 and competing since 13.  He has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany, Philippines, Thailand, and Russia. Recent engagements include Trinity Church in New York City, ArtScape in Baltimore, The Toronto Guitar Symposium, The Columbia Festival of the Arts, the Mississippi Guitar Festival, the Guitar Forum Guest Artist Series at Salisbury University, the Peabody FretFestival, and the AfterNow Music Series at the Red Room, a venue recently featured in Rolling Stone. In 2009, Mark joined the Maryland State Arts Council Touring Artist Roster, a program that offers concert presenters funding to showcase Maryland artists. Most recent seasons include soloist with the Prince George’s Philharmonic, the National Philharmonic, and all three venues of Carnegie Hall:  Weill Hall, Zankel Hall, and Isaac Stern Auditorium.

From 1998 to present, Mark has earned 34 top prizes in Thailand, Canada, and the United States. These prizes include the 2010 Asia International Guitar Competition, the 2009 Montreal International Guitar Competition, the 2008 National Guitar Workshop/National D’Addario Solo Competition, Le Concours International de Guitare de Lachine in Montreal, Canada, the 2007 Columbus State University Guitar Symposium, the Portland Guitar Festival XVI, the 2006 Appalachian GuitarFest Solo Guitar Competition, the 2011 East Carolina University Guitar Competition, the Rosario International Guitar Competition, and the Baltimore Music Clubs Competition.

Since the spring of 2000, Mark has been featured on 8 recordings. With the Baldwin Ensemble; El Cumbanchero, Cathedral Hill, and Fretworks, and then, three recordings featuring music of Baltimore composer Karen Amrhein:  …for Moonlight, Yule Like This, and Giving Voice (ASCAP).  Mark most recently appeared on albums Fairy Tale on the Centaur label and a new album for the Sono Luminus label.

Mark is also a dedicated educator.  After teaching outreach programs in the Baltimore community for Face to Face guitar and the Ark & Dove School of Music, Mark now focuses on developing guitar programs and K-12 Music Education.  Since 2022, Mark has served as a Senior Scholar Talent Lead to help guide the vertical alignment in the K-12 music program for Success Academy in New York City.  In the same year, he joined the Advisory Board for the Music Educators Workshop at Carnegie Hall. 

James Keretses maintains a multifaceted career as an ensemble musician, soloist, and educator. As a member of the award-winningBaltimore Guitar Duo and, as of 2023, the Atlantic Guitar Quartet, he has performed extensively throughout the east coast. Through his ensemble work, he has premiered new works by Cody Criswell, Kirk-Evan Billet, and OlgaAmelkina-Vera.

He is a dedicated and passionate teacher and has built a successful studio of both Suzuki and traditional classical guitar students at the Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore, MD. In addition to directing youth guitar ensembles, he is the assistant director of Fret Fest, the co-director of Peabody Youth Guitar Week, and the YouthGuitar Coordinator for the Peabody Preparatory guitar department.

Keretses holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina and a master's degree from Peabody Conservatory. In 2020, he earned his D.M.A. degree in Guitar Performance from Peabody with his research area being the Elizabethan-era composer, Anthony Holborne. His primary teachers were Christopher Berg and Julian Gray. He is a certified Suzuki teacher and received his training under William Kossler.

Matthew Slotkin is an acclaimed performer, teacher, and scholar, and has appeared in leading venues on six continents. A commitment to contemporary music has resulted in premieres of numerous works by composers including Olga Amelkina-Vera, John Anthony Lennon, Scott Lindroth, John Orfe, and many others. 

Festival performances include concerts at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the Walled City Music Festival, the Monadnock Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institution, the Guitar Foundation of America, and the World Saxophone Congresses in Croatia, Scotland, Thailand and Slovenia. He has performed on numerous classical guitar society concert series including New Zealand (GANZ), Montreal, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Iowa, Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the Great Lakes. 

He has given performances with many prominent chamber ensembles including the Atlantic Guitar Quartet, Cantata Profana, Dez Cordas, Duo Montagnard, Mallarmé Chamber Players, Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and Metropolis Ensemble. Recordings on the Summit, Centaur, and Liscio labels have been praised as “wonderful…a very enjoyable disc” (Soundboard), and “a magnificent achievement…the concept of this program is brilliant” (American Record Guide). Soundboard magazine called him an “exceptional” player, and a recent concert review from the Classical Voice of North Carolina states that “Slotkin performed brilliantly.” 

Slotkin is an Associate Professor of Music at Bloomsburg University, where he has directed the guitar program since 2004. He has given masterclasses at numerous institutions and festivals including the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, Victorian College of the Arts (Australia), ESMAE (Portugal), National University of La Plata (Argentina), the Alexandria Guitar Festival, and many others. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Music, and Bachelor of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied guitar with Nicholas Goluses.

Zoë Johnstone Stewart is a performer and educator in the Baltimore area. She currently serves as Chair of the Preparatory Guitar Department at the Peabody Institute and director of Peabody's annual Fret Festival and Summer Guitar Intensive. Zoë is also on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory, where she teaches the Guitar Pedagogy course for graduate and undergraduate guitar students. A dedicated and deeply experienced teacher, students from her programs have been admitted to and received scholarship offers from the Peabody Institute, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Berklee College of Music, Shenandoah Conservatory, and the University of South Carolina. In 2023 she was the recipient of the Suzanne Seff Kuff Excellence in Teaching Award at the Peabody Preparatory.   

She has performed extensively throughout the northeast United States as a soloist and collaborator in various chamber groups. As a founding member of the Atlantic Guitar Quartet, she has performed for the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, Ulster Chamber Music Series, Marshall University, Loyola University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and as an Artist-In-Residence at the Engineers Club at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion. Other notable solo engagements include a recent concerto performance with the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, outreach concert for Marlow Guitar International, a four-week residency for the Baltimore County Public Library, duo performances with oboist Emily Madsen as part of the Naval Academy Band Recital Series and – as part of Baltimore Classical Guitar Society’s “Made in Baltimore” 30th anniversary commission concert – the world premiere of “Storied” by Edmund Scott Miller, with guitarist Jeremy Lyons. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rochester and her master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.

Prior to her work at Peabody, Zoë founded the Evergreen Academy of Talent Education, a Suzuki guitar school in the Baltimore area. She has taught workshops and master classes at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Salisbury Guitar Festival, the New Jersey Music Educators Association Conference, and Marshall University, and has participated as a judge in the Guitar Foundation of America Junior Youth competition as an adjudicator for the Loudoun County Guitar Festival. Additionally, she is on the Board of Trustees of the Guitar Foundation of America, where she has served as a mentor for students in the GFA IDEA program and was a speaker for the Educator Hour and a panelist for Educator roundtables at the 2023 conference. She lives in Lutherville, Maryland with her husband and two sons.