Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, a 97-year-old free jazz luminary, conducts the Philadelphia Public Orchestra.

Philadelphia’s Public Orchestra offers an alternative to traditional classical ensembles, with room for all instruments and backgrounds.

The first time I experienced an orchestra I was 7. A year earlier, a roving teacher visited my class carrying a bag filled with plastic recorders. She gave us a simple challenge: “I’ll be back in a week to see how many of you can play this song without squeaking!” As promised, she returned one week later, and miraculously I made the cut. My reward was to be enrolled at the Newham Academy of Music in London. A week later, another teacher handed me a tiny violin and said, “If you can play the song I just taught you by next week without squeaking, you can stay.” I noticed a trend—squeaking on any instrument was bad. A year later, I was on stage at the Royal Albert Hall with about 50 other kids. Our orchestra was called Da Capo, which means “from the beginning.”

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With his idiosyncratic style and spare Tele-driven setup, the inventive guitarist twists roots music on his new groove-centric album, Get It!

Rick Holmstrom says he spends “a lot of time not listening to guitar. I like trying to imagine the guitar taking the place of saxophone, Ahmad Jamal’s piano, or Mose Allison’s piano. Like Billie Holiday, who does those weird little micro bends that the great singers do—how can you get a feeling like that on the guitar?”

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See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

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