World-renowned classical guitarist Pepe Romero in concert
By Michael Pearl
Pepe Romero and his family members are legendary music-makers on the classical guitar whose playing reaches out and touches the souls of people across the globe. This season we welcome Pepe on his 70th birthday World Tour, which is also the centenary of the birth of his father, Celedonio, one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived. Pepe will play two different recitals for Pro Musica on Friday and Saturday, February 7 and 8, at St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6, at 5pm.Pro Musica Concert Series
Pepe Romero, classical guitar
Fri, Feb 7 & Sat, Feb 8, 5pm
St. Paul’s Church
Pepe, born in Malaga, Spain, in 1944, was recognized for his extraordinary musical gift at the age of seven, when he started performing on the concert stage with his father. At 15, he made his first recording and has recorded over 50 albums since. He has become a living legend in the world of classical music, honored by monarchs, presidents and major cultural institutions for his artistic technique and his outstanding musical interpretations on the guitar. He says, “As far as I remember I always thought of myself as a guitarist; it was something I was, not something I was to become. My family encouraged and nurtured every aspect of my artistic life.”
On Friday, the evening’s cornucopia of compositions begins with two great 16th century musical innovators: Alonso Mudarra and Luys de Narváez. Their pieces demand supreme technical skill but, in the hands of a master like Romero, they seem effortless.
Dazzling and versatile finger dexterity ensures the gentle Debussy/Ravel-like effects in Narváez’s Diferencias sobre Guárdame las vacas, as well as in the dashingly dramatic 18th-century music of Fernando Sor with his Fantasia in D minor. Mauro Giuliani’s Variations on the unpromising song title I Am a Cabbage Farm-boy, comprise six pieces based on a feast of rhythms and robust flavors conveying the theme’s title. Equally impressive is the Gran jota by Francisco Tárrega, a pioneer of the tremolo technique – the signature flamenco application. This spectacular nine-minute work is a virtuoso piece that magnificently illustrates every possible performance difficulty.
Maestro Romero then performs Suite madrilène, a wondrous creation by his famous father. It’s a geographically inspired series of vignettes that beautifully captures places and scenes from various Madrid neighborhoods. Wondrous pieces by Manuel de Falla, Joaquin Rodrigo, Federico Tórroba and Joaquin Turina follow. The music made by these 20th-century composers collectively captures a variety of Iberian flavors, ranging from the lyrical to the exotic, including a zarzuela and a bolero. The evening also brims with works catching the flavor of Spain masterfully created by the second son of the Royal Guitar Family—Pepe Romero himself.
Spanish flare continues in Saturday’s program with a lovely opening piece by Tárrega. The Preludio No. 1, nine vignettes of vivid themes, scenes and thoughts—some referencing musically the feminine, others alluding to cultural cross-overs and dances that are dramatically sharp and forthright. Surprise and enchantment mix beautifully in this collage of moods.
We will also hear Tárrega’s riveting Gran jota, with its Aragonesque flamenco bravura, a provocative, colorful song of gypsy flavors. The stirring Sonata a la Espanola by Joaquín Rodrigo features three contrasting movements where tempos change from fast, to slow to a final autobiographical bolero. The
his struggle trying to reach the fridge. He was blind. The rasgueados will thrill you as the dramatic nail strumming builds the tension.
In more melancholic manner is Manuel de Falla’s Homenaje—le Tombeau de Debussy. Imagine the composer standing over the grave of one of his favorite composers. This is the scene the music conveys: sadness juxtaposes with light and exciting habaneras color the mood. Then, Tórroba’s Nocturno, filled with summer sweetness, and Turina’s Fantasia Sevillana, which could well be an alternate Spanish anthem.
The evening ends with Romero’s own Homenaje a Sabicas, a tribute to the late, great guitar genius, Augustín Castellón Campos Sabicas. The work is saturated with incredible rapid-fire wizardry; the guitar plays out an endless arsenal of picados, arpeggios and ascending virtuosic passages of breathless expressiveness. It is a dashing yet totally self-effacing finish as it unites two iconic legendary artists, Sabicas and Romero.
Tickets for the concerts, at 100, 200 and 300 pesos donation each, are available at St. Paul’s Church, calle Cardo 6, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm; as well as at La Tienda in La Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; Solutions, Mesones 57; La Conexión, Aldama 3; daily until 2pm on Saturday, and at the door half an hour before the concert begins.
The quality of the music and opera Pro Musica brings to San Miguel, our unique Rhythm, Rhyme & Reason program, teaching music in underprivileged schools in the campo, and our work in the city’s orphanages, costs increasing amounts of money to provide. The best way to help us fund our activities is to become a Patron Member. Patron membership costs as little US$100 per year, is US tax deductible, and includes many benefits, such as complimentary concert tickets and Meet the Artists suppers and cocktail parties. For information on all of Pro Musica’s concerts for the 2013-2014 season and Patron Membership, please visit our website: promusicasma.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.