Randy Armstrong Bio
2017 New Hampshire Governor’s Arts Awards Winner for Arts Education
2017-2018 Artist In Residence with The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra
Bahji by Randy Armstrong • 2016 TedX PiscataquaRiver
Tribute in Courage by Randy Armstrong • 2017-2018 Artist In Residence • Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra
Soundscape by Randy Armstrong • 2017-2018 Artist In Residence • Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra
Shanti Om by Randy Armstrong • 2017-2018 Artist In Residence • Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra
Guitarist, Multi-Instrumentalist & World Fusion Music Pioneer
Hailed by the Boston Globe as a “sure-fingered guitar virtuoso,” Randy Armstrong is the co-founder of Do’a World Music Ensemble, Unu Mondo & the Beyond Borders Octet. With a collection of over three hundred instruments from around the world, including acoustic, electric, synthesizer and nylon-string guitars, sitar, balofon, djembe, koto, charango, South African marimbas, mbira and a wide variety of percussion and stringed instruments, he has amazed audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, India, West and South Africa, Croatia, Belize, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Randy travelled to Central America and West Africa in 2004 performing and studying with Garifuna musicians and drummers in Dangriga and Hopkins, Belize and Ewe, Fanti and Ga drummers in Accra and Legon, Ghana.
Randy has performed at Carnegie Recital Hall and festivals at Lincoln Center in New York City. In 1998, Randy was selected as an artist representative to attend a Cultural Trade Mission to Ireland, Northern Ireland and England sponsored by Governor Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and in May 2005 attended a Curatorial Research trip on Son Jarocho music in Xalapa and Veracruz, Mexico for the New England Foundation for the Arts. He was appointed as an Arts Councilor for the NH State Council on the Arts by NH Governor Craig Benson from 2003-2008 and reappointed by Governor John Lynch from 2008-2012.
In the summer of 2007, Randy toured internationally in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and South Africa and celebrated the digital and compact disc release of Armstrong & Aichele: World Tales Volume Two.
Scoring & Touring
In 2009, he composed, performed and recorded original music for the NH Theatre Project presentation of Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The music score was funded in part by a grant from Meet the Composer, Inc. and The New England Foundation for the Arts. In 2010, Randy composed an original score on recycled percussion for the Phillips Exeter Academy production of Macbeth and in 2014-2015, composed and performed the original scores for The Mahabharata and the Caucasian Chalk Circle.
He also toured Cuba in the summer of 2012 with the all-women’s choral group, Voices From The Heart, as an accompanist and soloist and in 2015 toured with the chorus, Con Tutti in Puerto Rico. In 2018, Armstrong performed a concert tour in South Africa with Voices From The Heart where he commissioned a set of handmade South African Marimbas shipped from Cape Town to the Port of New York. He subsequently formed the band, Randy Armstrong & WorldBeat Marimba.
As a composer and performing artist with Do’a World Music Ensemble, his music has been acclaimed as “a marvelous kaleidoscope of shifting melodies, rhythms, and instrumental colors” by Downbeat magazine. CD Review stated, “guitarist Randy Armstrong…has composed some of the brightest contemporary instrumentals this side of the hemisphere.” Do’a’s fifth album, World Dance, released in 1988, reached the top 10 of several national charts including #7 in Billboard.
Do’a toured extensively from 1974-1991 throughout the USA, Canada and India at such venues as The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco; The Bottomline in NYC; The Bear Mountain Festival of World Music and Dance; and Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi, India for the 1986 United Nations International Year of Peace, to name a few. Their five highly acclaimed album releases appeared on the Philo/Rounder and Global Pacific/CBS Associated record labels.
Randy Armstrong scored the music for a four-part PBS Primetime series, Dinner on the Diner produced by British filmmaker, Jon Guilbert. The series explores four famous train rides through Spain, Scotland, South Africa and Malaysia/Thailand with a double-CD released concurrently with its premiere by Ellipsis Arts nationally distributed by Ryko. The recording was called “Evocative and Timeless” by BarnesandNoble.com.The programs aired on the PBS network in June 2000.
In May 2003, his album No Regrets was released by DOMO Records and reached the top 10 of several radio airplay charts.
Contributions to Compilations
In 2005, Randy joined forces with 16 artists from coast to coast on a compilation CD entitled the Tsunami Relief Project released by Atta Girl Records with all profits aiding Tsunami survivors through the CARE Agency. Randy Armstrong has performed, recorded and appeared on over 45 albums and film scores.
Randy holds a degree in composition and world music studies and has conducted workshops at hundreds of schools, universities and cultural institutions throughout the United States.
He was on the music faculty as director of the African Drumming & World Percussion Ensemble and instructor of North Indian sitar and tabla at Phillips Exeter Academy from 1991-2020 and teaches for the Graduate Studies Integrated Arts Program at Plymouth State University. His educational performances and artist residency programs have enriched the lives of tens of thousands of students, educators and adults throughout the years.
Randy proudly celebrates the release of the CD entitled: Beyond Borders, co-produced with Volker Nahrmann. 5 years in the making featuring 35 musicians from around the world, it is a Global Voyage in Music. Beyond Borders was nominated for the 2015 ZMR Music Awards – Best World Album.
His original score and sountrack for the theater and dance production, The Conference of The Birds had its premiere performance in San Jose, CA in September 2016 featuring 11 international dance traditions with 50 actors ages 4 to 84. In 2017, composed and recorded the score for Soundwaves – The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan for The San Francisco Bay theater performance produced by EnActe Arts, Inc. In 2020 during the global pandemic, he was commissioned to compose and record the song, Together Apart, for the Phillips Exeter Academy virtual dance performance.
Additional Awards and Honors
He also performs with the award-winning storytelling, music and movement duo, Armstrong & Aichele: World Tales that has received wide critical acclaim. With Do’a World Music Ensemble and as a solo artist, he has been the recipient of numerous grants from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the state arts councils of Arkansas, Arizona and New York and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has shared the stage with such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, King Sunny Ade, Fatoumata Diawara, the Paul Winter Consort, Babatunde Olatunji, Mose Allison, Pierre Bensusan, Michael Hedges, Eddie Palmieri and Richie Havens.