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Jon Finn of the Boston Symphony

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Jon Finn has been a professional musician for most of his life having picked up his first guitar at age six. Today, he’s been repeatedly acknowledged within the international community of musicians as being a clear leader in Modern Rock Guitar as a performer, composer and educator.

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In 1988 Finn joined the guitar faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston and later that same year started the Jon Finn Group. To date, they have three internationally released CDs, Don't Look So Serious (Legato Records 1994), Wicked (SEP Records 2000), “Bull in a China Shop” (SEP Records 2010) several independent releases, and countless performances worldwide under their belts.

For over three years, Jon wrote a monthly instructional feature for a national magazine called Guitar. Jon has also authored several books for Mel Bay Publications: Advanced Modern Rock Guitar Improvisation, One Guitar, Many Styles, Blues/Rock Improvisation, Riffs: Volume One, and a few more currently in production.

In his freelance pursuits, he's played guitar for the national touring companies of many contemporary musical theater productions such as Rent, Aida, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, High School Musical, Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Copacabana, and many others. Today Jon frequently performs and records with the Boston Pops Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra. With them he’s performed with Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Rockapella, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Natalie Cole, Carly Simon, Bernadette Peters, New York Voices and many others. He’s been involved in a plethora of concerts and recording sessions, including 6 CDs (two of which were Grammy nominated), 8 US concert tours, and one tour in Asia.

Jon has also performed with some of the world’s premier guitarists as a co-featured performer: John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan, Carl Verheyen, Dweezil Zappa, Dave Larue, Andy Timmons, Vinnie Moore, Steve Morse, Tom Scholz, Barry Goudreau, Tom Morello and others.

One of his songs, “Berlin Wall” appears in the motion picture release “Refusenik”, a documentary about Soviet Jews and their struggle to escape to the US during the Cold-War era. Jon’s guitar is heard on the NFL Theme Song during the football season.

Examiner sat down with Finn to find out more about him.

Examiner: How long have you played with the Boston Symphony?

Finn: "I've been playing with Boston Pops Orchestra since 1997. While I'm not a "regular" member of Boston Symphony Orchestra, I've performed with them many times as well. Both Orchestras use many of the same musicians. It's been an amazing honor to work with them. I got called years ago for a CD project they were doing called "The Celtic Album" and they were looking for someone to play rock guitar. After the recordings, TV shows and concerts were finished, I told them how much fun I had and please call me anytime. Unbelievably, they did!"

Examiner: How did you get in to the music business?

Finn: "I never wanted to do anything else. I started playing guitar at the tender age of six!"

Examiner: Who has been your inspiration?

Finn: "Early on it was bands like the Animals and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Later on, the Allman Brothers, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Steve Morse and a long list of others. These days, it boils in to two categories: 1) stuff I like 2) stuff I don't like."

Examiner: Do you play original music or covers?

Finn: "With my band, the Jon Finn Band, we do originals but I do a fair amount of free lancing with others."

Examiner: Have you played with any famous musicians?

Finn: I've been incredibly lucky in that way. Between my gig with Boston Pops, my own band, and my job at Berklee, I've had the amazing luck to work closely with a long list of incredible performers: Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (Aeromsmith), Tom Scholz, Barry Goudreau and Sib Hashian of Boston, Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Kansas, Deep Purple), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Guthrie Govan (Aristocrats), Morgan Freeman, John Williams (Star Wars, )Keith Lockhart (Boston Pops), Debbie Reynolds, Susan Tedeschi,
Ayla Brown, Stephen Wright (comediam), Michael Mangini (Dream Theater), Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders)
Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap, Princess Bride, Best In Show), Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Carly Simon, Natalie Cole, Bernadette Peters, Clay Aiken (American Idol), Meghan Hilty (Smash, )Andy Timmons, Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Vinnie Moore (UFO), Arlo Guthrie, Gloria Estefan, Eddie Mekka (Laverne and Shirley) and others!

Examiner: Any stories you may want to share?

Finn: "During one of my first US tours with Boston Pops, we did a concert at a place called Interlochen, an outdoor shed-like venue located at a music school near Traverse City Michigan. There was a glass wall behind the stage that gave the audience a panoramic view of Lake Michigan behind us. It was a beautiful, balmy summer night. As the sun went down the concert started.

One of the pieces on that program was "1812 Overture" which is a Boston Pops staple; something we always play one the Esplanade for July 4. The finale includes the firing of several live cannons (which shoot blanks of course) in time with the music. We'd hired a local crew for the evening to do the honors.

Since there's no guitar on the piece, I left the stage to watch the guys light the cannons. They had them behind the stage facing out over the lake.

I noticed two guys not far from the shore on a canoe, fishing and enjoying the concert from the lake. As the music rumbles to the Finale, the cannons go BOOM!

I've never witnessed two people row a canoe quite that fast in my life."

From 2009 till now, Fin has recorded ten albums. Five with the Boston Pops Orchestra and five with his own band, The Jon Finn Band. The latest CD is entitled, "Bull in a China Shop," released on SEP Records.

His awards include Dean’s Award for Outstanding achievements in Teaching (Berklee College of Music 1995), Nomination for Outstanding Instrumentalist - Boston Music Awards (1994), Performer of the Year – New England Performer Magazine (1995), Emmy – Mike Adam’s Sportsworld TV show (1996), Grammy Nomination – The Celtic Album, Boston Pops 1999 and a second Grammy Nomination – The Latin Album, Boston Pops, 2000.

For more information visit: http://jonfinn.com

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