Concerts and Events!


Man of La Mancha – Barrington Stage Company – June 10-July 11 2015. 

Barrington Stage Company’s “Man of La Mancha”








there was a lot to like in this show, … the flamenco guitarist Eric Despard” – Berkshire Eagle

“the pit orchestra sounded wonderful, as did the flamenco guitarist Eric Despard” –

Tickets at Barrington Stage Co.


Middlebury Bach Festival. 51 Main.. Saturday, April 25th, 2015

6:00 pm. An all Bach “Unplugged” program featuring Lute Suites, 1, 2, 3, and Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro!



Artist Faculty Concert: Middlebury College. Saturday, September 27th

Works by Steve Reich, Carlo Domeniconi, Benjamin Verdery and Bjorn Bolstad Skjelbred.



 Oil Painters of America-Thursday, June 5th,  5-7 pm, and Friday June 6th 8:30 am- 11:30 am. Reception and works shops at the Bennington Center For the Arts.


Middlebury Bach Festival. Unplugged at 51 Main April, 2014

Join me at 51 Main for a program of Bach and more! 6:00


Pre-concert lecture before LAGQ at Chandler Hall

Pre-concert lecture for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet April, 12th 2014





Come see the Grammy winning LAGQ at the Randolph VTs Chandler Center on Saturday April 12, 2014. Concert begins at 7:30, I’ll begin at 6:45.


March 26th-29th, 2014 – Concert Tour 

                                    Bjorn Skjelbred        Michael Ronstadt          Eric Despard                        Rocco Jerry

Please join Rocco Jerry, accordion, Jared Shapiro, cello, Michael Ronstadt, cello and myself on classical guitar in celebration of Norwegian Composer Bjorn Bolstad Skjelbred’s American visit. Other Norwegian composers will be highlighted. We will play six concerts in four states!

Wednesday, March 26th, 12:30 pm at Southern Vermont College and 4:00pm at Bennington College.

Thursday, March 27th, 1:00 pm at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Friday, March 28th, Noon: College of Saint Rose, and Troy and Clifton park Libraries, 4:30

Saturday, March 29th Mid-Atlantic Music Teachers Guild Festival, Whippany, New Jersey 3:00pm

Norwegian Composer to Premier New Work at Southern Vermont College

(BENNINGTON, Vt.) – Composer Bjørn Bolstad Skjelbred of Oslo, Norway, will present his world-premiere new work, “ConVergEnce,” at Southern Vermont College on Wednesday, March 26. A concert, with classical guitarist Eric Despard, cellist Michael Gilbert Ronstadt and bayanist Rocco Anthony Jerry, will begin at noon in Hunter Hall’s Greenberg Atrium with a reception to follow. Admission is free and open to the public.

“ConVergEnce,” written for cello and bayan, was commissioned by a 60,000 kroner grant from the Norwegian Composers Fund. The work explores the similarities and differences between the two instruments. The bayan is used with ever increasing frequency in contemporary classical music. Along with a host of idiomatic techniques such as bellows ricochet and tone bending, the bayan has been used by many leading contemporary composers including Arne Nordheim, Magnus Lindberg and Sofia Gubaidulina.

In addition to “ConVergEnce,” Skjelbred’s classical guitar solo, “Moves,” will be performed by guitarist Despard, along with Magnar Am’s “On the Banks of the Eternal Second” by all three musicians and Wolfgang Plagge’s “Fractals” by bayanist Jerry. This concert at SVC is the first in a seven-concert tour, spanning Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

As a composer, arranger, improviser and teacher, Skjelbred is experienced in several genres and musical environments with a list of works containing more than 50 titles and where music for other arts and music for young musicians are largely present. He has performed in several European countries, United States and Canada as well as Nordic countries. Among his collaborators are Norwegian percussionist Eirik Raude, the Swedish ensemble The Pearls before Swine Experience, The London Schubert Players, the Norwegian vocal group Nordic Voices and the Danish flutist Marianne Leth. Skjelbred is also involved in the jazz/pop/rock music scene as an arranger, songwriter and musician and released the CD ‘urban songs’ with the quartet Urban Visions in 2005. Skjelbred has a master’s degree in Composition from the Norwegian State Academy of Music

Heralded as a “talented classical guitarist” by the “Times” of Trenton, guitarist Despard has performed extensively throughout North America as a soloist and with various chamber ensembles. His dynamic solo concert programs include “The Latin Guitar” featuring Spanish, Latin and South American guitar composers and “World Guitar” featuring music and transcriptions of composers from around the world.

In addition to solo concerts, Despard performs with various jazz, blues and rock groups through the Northeast. Currently, Despard is the Music Director at Southern Vermont College where he teaches music history, music theory, concert jazz band, choir and related performance classes. Also, he is an Affiliate Artist at Middlebury College and an instructor of guitar at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Despard holds an undergraduate degree from the Hartt School of Music and a graduate degree from the Yale School of Music.

For two decades, Ronstadt has entertained audiences throughout North America on cello, guitar and voice. An exceptional musician-composer conversant with a wide range of styles, he executes captivating solo performances and participates in duo and trio situations with a diverse group of young musician-songwriters including Lisa Biales and David Trotta

His talents have been tapped for concert and studio work by artists David Bromberg, Linda Ronstadt, Muriel Anderson and Craig Bickhardt. Ronstadt is a much sought-after studio musician appearing on more than 50 albums. Writer Dan Buckley of “The Tucson Citizen” noted his “amazing command of the typical and exotic sounds of the cello, a true virtuoso and a man of instinctive musicality.”

Ronstadt has a master’s and bachelor’s degree of Music in Cello Performance and studied under esteemed pedagogues Yehuda Hanani, Nancy Green and Dr. Gordon Epperson.

Jerry is captivated by the use of the accordion by contemporary classical composers and focuses his energy in working with composers on new works for the instrument. Jerry performs on a bayan. He has given solo concerts throughout the United States including New York City; at the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; and Philadelphia. He has performed with several chamber groups including the Downtown Ensemble and the Flexible Orchestra. His new works have been premiered by Daniel Goode, Conrad Kehn, Peter Machajdik, Robert Young McMahan, Max Simoncic and Christian Wolff. In 2004, Jerry worked with Hollywood film composer Arthur B. Rubinstein and performed accordion in the premier run of Rubinstein’s new musical “He Who Gets Slapped.”

In 2007, Jerry began the Accordion Ensemble Project, which was awarded an SOS Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2008

For more information on the concert, contact Despard at


Congregational Church, Middlebury, VT. Sunday, March 2nd 2014, 10:00am 

Come to a 10:00 am service to worship and hear Latin American and Spanish Guitar music. My friend Jessica Allen has invited me to play music for the Prelude, Introit, Communion, and Postlude.

23rd Annual Kenneth Cottrell Memorial Concert: Sunday, February 9th, 2:00 p.m.

Come check out the Bennington Jazz Quintet featuring Sue Green, Trumpet, Jake Hill, Sax, Michelle Labieniec Despard, Piano and Eric Despard, Bass, and Marjorie Rooen, Drums.

We’ll be playing four songs and will be followed by the Sage City Dixieland Jazz Band and the Mount Anthony High School Jazz Band. Proceeds from the concert provide scholarships of up to $1000 to area high school students who will pursue music in College.

Donations are encouraged.


Jazz at Oldcastle Theatre – Saturday, January 18th, 7:30

The Eric Despard Quartet will be performing live jazz at the Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, Vermont on Saturday, January 18th at 7:30 pm. Tickets are  $20 and may be purchased through the Oldcastle Theatre website or by calling 802-447-0564.

The Quartet will feature guitarist Eric Despard, drummer Jeff McRae of the Jeff McRae Band, bassist David Cuite of the Leah Carrol Quintet, and pianist Michelle Labieniec Despard.

The program highlights selections from the jazz repertoire with a focus on the 1960’s, including songs by Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane,  and Wayne Shorter.

ERIC DESPARD began studying jazz guitar in High School with Hartford, CT teacher Jamie Sherwood. He studied briefly at the Hartt School of Music (BM) with renowned guitarist Randy Johnston, and studied Jazz History with Frank Tiro and Jazz Arranging with Willie Ruff at the Yale School of Music (MM).

Eric is an Affiliate Artist of classical guitar at Middlebury College, and Instructor of Guitar at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and is the Music Director and Part-Time faculty at Southern Vermont College where he directs a concert band and choir.  He performs locally as a sideman with the Jeff McRae Band and the Bennington Jazz Group- a favorite at the annual Kenneth Cottrell benefit concert.

JEFF McRAE is a writer and drummer and plays with a variety of groups in the tri-state area including the Sage City Six, Sage City Symphony, and with Bernice Lewis. He holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Washington University (St. Louis) and an M.A. from the University of New Hampshire.

DAVID CUITE studied art history and music at Manhattanville College.
From 1990-2005 he lived  in NYC. At the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music he played bass for the jazz ensemble classes taught by Scott Napoli. He studied with Maryanne McSweeney and Ben Allison and played with a free jazz orchestra taught by Ornette Coleman sidemen Jim Nolet and Bern Nix.

Currently living in Cambridge, NY, he plays in the Leah Carrol Quintet and works in multiple ensembles playing jazz, bluegrass and free improvisation. He has taught a jazz ensemble class at Hubbard Hall and has played bass for the theater company there. Dave is an established bassist in Southern Vermont and the bordering region of New York.

MICHELLE LABIENIEC DESPARD began playing the piano at age seven, and was classically trained.  She lived most of her life in Connecticut and attended the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where she earned her B.M degree.  In 1995, she attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she studied piano and composition with Kenny Barron and Sumi Tunooka. She then earned her M.A. from Lewis Porter’s jazz history and research program, and focused on women in jazz, and jazz education.

Over the past 20 years, Michelle has taught all ages, and founded the Kindermusik program at the Rutgers Community Music Program in New Jersey.  She has taught privately, at the college level, and currently teaches general music at Pine Cobble School in Williamstown, MA.



ERIC DESPARD – classical guitar

Heralded as a “talented classical guitarist” by the Times of Trenton, guitarist Eric Despard performs extensively throughout North America as a soloist and with various chamber ensembles. His dynamic solo concert programs include “The Latin Guitar” featuring Spanish, Latin and South American guitar composers and  “World Guitar” featuring music and transcriptions of composers from around the world. In addition to solo classical guitar concerts, Eric regularly performs with various jazz, blues, and rock groups throughout the Northeast.

His passion for accessible community music and arts education led to a five year position as the Executive Director of the Bennington Music School. Eric holds and undergraduate degree from the Hartt School of Music and a graduate degree from the Yale School of Music. At Hartt he studied with Alan Spriestersbach and Richard Provost and at Yale he studied with Benjamin Verdery. Eric has performed in masterclasses for Sharon Isbin, Elliot Fisk, Eduardo Fernandez, and David Russell. He has taught guitar at the Turtle Bay Music School, Rutgers Community Music Program, the Westminster Conservatory, the Bennington Music School, and the Community College of Vermont.

Eric is currently an Affiliate Artist at Middlebury College and an Instructor of Guitar at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  He also serves on the faculty and is the Music Director at Southern Vermont College where he teaches music history, music theory, concert jazz band, choir, and related performance classes. Students from his private studio have been accepted to the Boston Conservatory, Crane School of Music, SUNY Fredonia, Ithaca College, William Patterson University, the University of Vermont, and the Berkelee College of Music.

This website is supported in part by Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Please support both of these organizations to keep the arts vibrant in Vermont and throughout the United States!

For booking information please contact Eric at or 802-733-7152