3 days / 70+ speakers
80+ lectures, seminars, and workshops
National Symposium for Classical Education

Phoenix Convention Center
February 22-24, 2023
Vice President and Tutor, Gutenberg College

Eliot Grasso

Eliot Grasso, vice president and tutor at Gutenberg, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He joined the faculty of Gutenberg College in 2012 where he teaches courses on art, music, and aesthetics.

Eliot is committed to fostering the intellectual development of his students through discussions centered on primary source readings. He believes that it is important for a Christian to develop the right kind of relationship with the idea of art, and that this can be accomplished through a rigorous analysis of one’s personal beliefs and biases relating to art and music.

Eliot has performed, recorded, taught, and lectured on Irish traditional music internationally. Scholars, critics, and performers have described him as “one of the finest uilleann pipers in the history of Irish music in America.” Eliot has performed for the National Endowment for the Arts Awards, the National Heritage Awards, Glasgow’s International Piping Festival, Piping Live!, Armagh’s William Kennedy International Piping Festival, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As a recording artist, Eliot has produced numerous recording projects in America and in Ireland. In 2007, his solo album, Up Against the Flatirons, inaugurated Na Píobairí Uilleann’s (Ireland’s national piping society) Ace and Deuce of Piping recordings series, an artistic enterprise funded by the Arts Council of Ireland that was initiated to document the finest living exponents of the uilleann pipes.

Eliot holds a B.A. in music from Goucher College, a M.A. in ethnomusicology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. He studies the relationship among melodic variation, cognition, and socio-cultural context. Eliot’s scholarship and teaching have been recognized with awards from the Society for Ethnomusicology and the University of Oregon.

Eliot and Kate Grasso currently reside in Oregon with their three children. A fuller picture of Eliot’s intellectual and artistic endeavors is available at


The Role of Musical Tradition Today

For centuries in the West, people have gathered to make music together. Music traditions pass down domains of knowledge that have accrued over generations. Whether in contexts public or private, sacred or profane, casual or official, musical traditions have played a critical role in human culture. But how does this knowledge transfer happen? What sort of knowledge does music impart? Why does musical tradition still live in the bedrock of culture? Does traditional music have anything to teach us about culture today? In this talk, Dr. Grasso will use the case study of Irish Traditional music to explore these questions.

Workshop: Composing New Music, Traditionally

No matter how novel, all new music is in dialogue with past traditions. Today, many musicians look to tradition for aesthetic and formal inspiration while they attempt to fashion new music that is both unique and personal. In this workshop, we will collectively compose a new tune in a traditional style and discuss where and how innovation touches tradition. No compositional or performing experience is needed to participate in this workshop!