Originally from Denver, Colorado, Margaret Slovak is a guitarist, composer and painter. She began playing the guitar at the age of 11, composing at age 14, and performing professionally at age 16. Margaret studied jazz and classical music and visual art, receiving her BFA in jazz studies from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. She also attended the Kansas City Art Institute, University of Missouri Conservatory of Music, and the Banff Centre Summer Jazz Workshop in Alberta, Canada. Margaret received several scholarships for her schooling, and has studied with such renowned musicians as Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, Dale Bruning, Gary Peacock, Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Art Lande, Hadley Caliman, and Julian Priester. After graduating from the Cornish College of the Arts in 1986, Margaret spent two years in Denver, Colorado, performing, studying, and composing.
In 1988, she moved to New York City, where she spent five years leading her own band and performing her original music in clubs and cafes. While in New York, Margaret had the opportunity to perform and record with Fred Hersch, Michael Formanek, Michael Sarin and Joel Weiskopf; she also produced two recordings of her original material and performed with the Peruvian jazz group, Antara. In addition, Margaret embarked on several tours of the western United States, and toured through Germany in the fall of 1991, performing her original music with a quartet. In 1994, Margaret relocated to Portland, Oregon. In the summers of 1994 and 1995, she toured with her group, which included Bob Moses on drums, performing in Portland, Seattle, and British Columbia, Canada. In the fall of 1996, Margaret toured through Germany and the Czech Republic, performing with a jazz quintet and also as a solo artist. She performed extensively in Portland, Seattle and California as a soloist, in duos, trios, and with her quartet.
Margaret also performs therapeutic music for patients in healthcare settings. While in Portland, she was contracted by Good Samaritan Hospital, Emanuel Hospital, and OHSU Hospital, and served as a volunteer musician at Hopewell House Hospice Center. Margaret moved back to the New York City area in November, 2008, where she performed in a variety of venues as a solo guitarist and in jazz ensembles; Margaret also worked as a hospice musician for Jansen Hospice, located in Tuckahoe, New York. In addition, she played for veterans and taught guitar lessons at the Bronx VA Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.
Margaret relocated to Austin, Texas, in May, 2012. She currently performs in restaurants, bars, art galleries, senior care centers, memory care units, oncology treatment centers (chemotherapy infusion rooms) and for private parties. Margaret also plays for hospice patients independently and through the wonderful Austin non-profit Swan Songs. Some of her healthcare performances have been sponsored by another amazing Austin non-profit organization, Symphony of Soul.
As a composer and guitarist, Margaret combines elements of jazz with classical and world music, creating a unique and highly personal musical style that is deeply expressive. Margaret is also a painter, and creates images which reflect her musical compositions; she sometimes presents solo concerts in which her paintings are displayed on stage while she performs her corresponding musical compositions. Margaret's artwork is also featured on the covers and inserts of her CD's. In June, 1998, Margaret released her first CD, Undying Hope, which features her solo guitar compositions; this CD is currently receiving national radio airplay. Her second CD of original solos and duos, New Wings, was released in March, 2005. This CD has also received plentiful national and international airplay. Her third CD, For the Moment, was originally recorded in NYC in 1989, but was not released until November, 2007; this disc features her compositions for a jazz quartet that includes Fred Hersch on piano. In addition, one of her compositions from the quartet recording is included on a compilation CD entitled Proximity, which was released by 21 Cent Records in May, 1998. Margaret also appears on a 2001 compilation CD series, Sundays at Central, which contains one of her compositions in a duet with guitarist Doug Smith. In addition, one of her compositions appears on Bridges, a compilation CD released by Pacific Oncology Group in May, 2007.
Margaret teaches guitar and theory privately, and was an adjunct faculty member of Marylhurst University, Portland State University, Portland Community College and Mt. Hood Community College. In addition, Margaret has been the recipient of twelve grants from Portland's Regional Arts and Culture Council from 1995 - 2007.