Glorianne Collver Jacobson’s passion for guitar and lute has led her from northern California to Switzerland and back, before ultimately bringing her to Wellesley College, where she currently serves as senior music performance faculty in guitar and lute. Since arriving to Wellesley in 1986, she has offered group and individual instruction in both instruments to students of all musical backgrounds. Glorianne, who asked to be referred to by her first name, has dedicated her career to her instruments. It has been her love for music that has paved the way for many of the most meaningful experiences, and relationships, in her life.
Glorianne’s guitar journey began at age 14, when she first studied under the direction of her stepfather, Harry Alto, a guitarist who performed classical, flamenco and jazz styles. She was initially drawn to guitar after hearing the soundtrack of the 1959 film Black Orpheus, a collaboration between the Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá. Once she began playing, she recalls, she knew almost instantly that she’d found her calling.
She describes hers as a musical family, and fondly remembers family concerts in her home, where she and her step-father would play guitar for friends. Her dedication to guitar opened the path to a bevy of opportunities from an early age. While other high school students might find part time work babysitting for neighbors or bagging groceries, the 15-year-old Glorianne spent her weekends performing in a local Mexican restaurant.
She earned her degree in music at the University of California-Berkeley and spent her junior year abroad at the University of Bordeaux. That summer brought her to Barcelona, where she had the remarkable opportunity to study with one of the most well-renowned female guitarists of her time, Renata Tarragó.
“It was during my summer in Barcelona that I met a number of guitarists at a guitar course –– one of them also played lute. I was enchanted with the sound of the lute, and thus inspired to learn the lute.”
After graduating from Berkeley, Glorianne returned to Europe, this time to focus on her lute studies. In her new home of Basel, Switzerland, she studied with Eugen Dombois and Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
While living in Basel, Glorianne supported herself by teaching guitar, working with groups of students ranging from nursing students to children living in small German villages across the border. The young musicians, Glorianne remembers, would regularly visit the candy store before their lessons, and when she would tune their guitars, she’d discover the strings were coated in chocolate.
Glorianne secured a position teaching at the Ecole Jurassienne et Conservatoire de Musique in the city of Delémont, in Switzerland. Along with her teaching, she was able to continue honing her own skills, attending masterclasses in Lichtenstein and France. And while the opportunities to study with world-class musicians were deeply rewarding, she found that the connections and friendships she made while abroad were invaluable.
After her years in Switzerland, Glorianne returned to California before making her way to New England. In the Boston A\area, she taught at the Rivers School, the Cambridge School of Weston and Walnut Hill School for the Arts before finding her way to Wellesley.
Many of Glorianne’s fondest memories of her time at Wellesley have come through collaborative, interdepartmental efforts. In particular, she is especially proud of a performance project she helped put together which combined poetry readings and translations from students in the Spanish department with guitar and dance.
Just this month, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Glorianne and Concert Manager Isabel Fine, the music department welcomed Juanito Pascual as its artist in residence. A renowned flamenco guitarist, Juanito and his ensemble played to a packed house in Jewett Auditorium. Throughout the week, the ensemble worked with students in workshops focused on the fundamentals of flamenco guitar and dance.
Glorianne resides in Plympton, MA with her husband, a professional countertenor and cornetto player. Their daughter is a visual artist and illustrator. When she’s not teaching, Glorianne enjoys nature photography and folk dancing.
Glorianne encourages students of all abilities to pursue music, citing the joy it can bring to both the performer and their audience. “[Music] has the ability to reach people and connect with their emotions…it’s such a strong force, and that’s why I love it so much.”