Playing the guitar is my lifelong passion and 12-year profession. After earning 2 degrees in classical guitar performance (Bachelor of Music at Northern Illinois University and Master of Music at New England Conservatory), I started to pursue a full-time music performance career in the Chicagoland area. I now specialize in weddings & private event performances. My passion, dedication, and enthusiasm continue to grow with each passing year and I would love to be a part of your next event! For a more detailed bio, please see below:
Growing up as the youngest of 6 kids in a very musically inclined family, my earliest memories are of music, as well as my first words of “Who are you? Who who?” (taken from the The Who’s “Who Are You?”). After performing in rock bands & pit orchestras throughout my high school and early college years, I transitioned to classical guitar after hearing Francisco Tárrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” for the first time (I couldn’t believe that it was just one guitarist performing the piece). I then dove into classical guitar lessons, studying privately for a year before beginning formal studies at Northern Illinois University under the tutelage of Fareed Haque (Guitar Player Magazine´s ¨Best World Guitarist¨ winner in 2009). After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree (Classical Guitar Performance) in 2008, I moved to Boston to begin my Master of Music studies with Eliot Fisk at the New England Conservatory of Music.
While helping me grow as a classical guitarist, Eliot also encouraged me to embrace my rock music roots and find a way to unite that part of my musical DNA with the performance intricacies of classical guitar. This served as the impetus for my musical career path – A practice approach consisting of transcribing contemporary music (1930’s – Current) for solo classical/fingerstyle guitar and continuing to expand my classical/Spanish/flamenco guitar repertoire. I graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2010 with a Master of Music (with Academic Honors), specializing in Guitar Performance.
I then moved back to my hometown of Wheaton, IL and began pursuing a career in music performance. I continued to transcribe contemporary songs and growing that new category of my repertoire. During this time, I started advertising on various private event service websites in order to try and build a wedding performance business. With a repertoire that consisted of traditional wedding music, classical guitar staples and a growing list of contemporary arrangements, my performance career started to gain momentum. Concurrently, I started performing at local restaurants and have since maintained a regular performance schedule at wonderful local establishments, such as Adelle’s in Wheaton. I was soon all-in on music performance as my full-time profession.
I have now arranged over 200 songs for solo guitar and feature them prominently in performances. I also love to medley multiple songs together in a seamless fashion, making each performance unique and exciting. The classical guitar performance technique combined with the familiarity of the repertoire has made for exciting performances in a wide variety of different venues: high-end local restaurants, rock clubs, bars, corporate events, assisted living centers, memory care centers and many more. This performance act has also helped garner numerous awards, including TheKnot.com’s “Best of Weddings” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021) & “Hall of Fame” awards, WeddingWire’s “Couple’s Choice” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021) awards and Gigmaster’s “Top National Guitarist” award (2012, 2013).
In 2018, I was invited to perform and lecture at the Boston Guitar Festival (link to performance video here: Jim Perona LIVE at Boston GuitarFest 2018). The lecture portion was centered on building a positive & collaborative relationship with clients with the end goal of putting together the perfect soundtrack for their wedding or event. The following year, I was invited to perform for the United Center Concert Club, serving as the pre-concert act to headliners Fleetwood Mac. Around this time, I started performing in an additional act, a vocal/acoustic guitar duo with phenomenal vocalist Christa Jasmine. You can find more information about the Jasmine + Perona Duo here (hot link to the word “here” to the J+P page).
I continue to specialize in weddings & private event performances with the occasional restaurant performance, as well as giving lectures & performances at different guitar festivals throughout the country (most recently, the Rhode Island Guitar Festival in October 2021). Planning & performing the perfect soundtrack for your big day is my passion & profession. I hope to have an opportunity to do the same for you!