A duo in the making since 1994.
As a younger teenager with years of aimless guitar playing and numerous teachers already behind him, Craig took up his friend's bet that his teacher was in fact "the best teacher around". This is how Craig began studying guitar with Mark in 1994... and he soon found that his friend wasn't just bragging for the fun of it, even as a novice Craig could tell that there was much to be learned from this virtuoso musician, and in fact Mark was (and continues to be) a highly sought after educator in the San Diego area.
Ten years and a Bachelors of Jazz performance degree later, in 2004, Craig found himself teaching his own students in the same studio as Mark. This was right about this time that Craig discovered his passion for Classical guitar and began trading in his beloved electric guitars (including a Gibson ES335, Les Paul, and a Fender Telecaster among others) for nylon string Ramirez guitars... the brand that is basically the "Taylor of classical guitars".
Though already a highly active professional performer in his corner of the local jazz scene, in switching from Jazz to Classical, Craig found himself to be a beginner of sorts all over again, and from 2004 to 2009 Craig went back to the woodshed and dedicated himself to mastery of the Classical guitar, spending countless hours practicing and researching the craft. Along the way, between his lessons with his students he again found himself taking lessons from Mark, an accomplished Classical guitarist in addition to his Jazz and composition skills. Craig's enthusiasm for the repertoire inspired his teacher, and Mark's love for Classical guitar grew as Craig's progress challenged him to reach higher levels as well.
In 2009 Craig and Mark formed "The San Diego Guitar Duo", now known as "Bacilla|Stephenson Guitar Duo", and have been performing with each other ever since. While Craig will always look up to his long time mentor and childhood guitar hero, the lines between teacher and student are often blurred as these two musicians work together and collaborate in rehearsal and on the stage as professional peers, which is a most treasured accomplishment for both teacher and student.
Mark is best known as the composer and guitar tour de force behind the critically acclaimed fusion group Speed of Sound. He has a B.A. and M.Mus degrees from San Diego State University where he studied music composition with David Ward-Steinman. Mark has taught generations of guitarists in San Diego since the 80's. He has also taught many subjects in liberal arts and computer sciences (language, history, music appreciation, and web based programming) over the years.
He is a prolific composer, and some of Bacilla|Stephenson Guitar Duo's finest concert pieces are his own works which were originally written for his fusion group and were rearranged for guitar duo.
Craig has been playing the guitar since 1989. As hinted at in the "a duo in the making" story above, Craig spent his first 15 years with the guitar avidly studying rock and jazz, and then made a late change into the world of the classical guitar. He immersed himself in the repertoire from 2004 to 2009 and has been performing classical professionally ever since. Craig has been the principal guitarist and frequent arranger for La Jolla Community Church since 2005 and has been the head of program development and instruction in subjects of music theory, classical guitar, and kids music for Klassik Arts, a classical music academy in Scripps Ranch, since 2014.
As if getting to play music for a living wasn't enough, in 2014 Craig took Ballroom Dancing for a social hobby... but a lifetime of pursuing excellent technique in music led him towards a natural interest in the finer points of excellent technique in Ballroom dancing...
Though just a "Bronze" level beginner, by the good fortune of being in San Diego and just plain luck, Craig has had the opportunity to take lessons from the many of the top Ballroom professionals in the world! What a fun and rewarding hobby.
Certainly not as skilled dancing on his feet as he is dancing on the fretboard of a guitar with his fingers but he has fun and works at the craft with a technicians mind. He is often asked "are you nervous when you dance" by his dance friends who don't know him as a performing musician, which he finds laughable, for thousands of performances doing what he is supposed to be an expert at after decades of intensive training have taught him that one can only perform at the level they are at... and they will only do as well as they have practiced to do. Performance always comes down to preparation and a reasonable assessment of ones abilities.
Craig won't be winning any high level competitions, ultimately dance is just a hobby found later in life, but he already won the greatest reward of his dance career- he met his wife in dance class, and they've been dancing together ever since!