Sergio Assad is best known as the older sibling in the Duo Assad, described by many as the finest pairing of guitarists currently before the public. The two (Odair Assad is the other half of the team) have also appeared under the name the Assad Brothers. Sergio has given many solo concerts, as well, often playing his own compositions, which make up a fairly substantial output of mostly guitar music, the bulk scored for one, two, or four guitars. Many of these compositions employ other instruments as well, including violin, cello, and clarinet. A small number are large works, including the ballet Espantalho, for chamber orchestra, and Concerto Originis, for two guitars, violin, and chamber orchestra. Sergio Assad began making regular concert tours of the Americas and Europe with his brother from about 1969. He has compiled a large discography, both as a soloist and with Odair, and the recordings have appeared on a variety of labels, including EMI, Naxos, Nonesuch, Sony, and Gha. The Assads' repertory includes many standards (via transcription), including J.S. Bach, Scarlatti, Debussy, and Gershwin, as well as contemporary and popular Brazilian and Latin music.
Sergio Assad was born in Brazil on December 26, 1952. His father was a mandolin player who served as his children's first teacher. Sergio would later study for seven years with virtuoso guitarist and Segovia student Monina Tavora.
In 1969 Sergio and Odair Assad won a prize at the Bratislava International Rostrum of Young Interpreters, and then in 1973 earned first prize at the Brazilian Symphonic Competition. The pair was quite active on the international scene in the 1970s, and as their reputation grew, an impressive list of composers turned out compositions for them, including Terry Riley, Astor Piazzolla, Radamés Gnattali, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens, and Jorge Morel. In addition, Yo-Ya Ma, Gidon Kremer, Dawn Upshaw, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg performed with them.
One of the Assads' most popular recordings was the 1993 Nonesuch CD of Baroque repertory that featured arrangements (mostly by Sergio) of works by J.S. Bach, Scarlatti, Couperin, and others. The Assads' Nonesuch CD entitled Sérgio and Odair Assad Play Piazzolla was awarded a Latin Grammy in 2002.
Though Sergio Assad resides in Chicago and Paris and Odair in Brussels, the brothers continue making regular concert tours, occasionally with sister Badi, also a guitarist. Sergio joined the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in September 2008.