Flamenco Show Stroke Victim Support Kilpin East Yorkshire

Together with my flamenco dancer Rocio I provided a performance of Flamenco Dance and Guitar Solos.

This event was organised partly to raise funds for Stroke Victim Support with specific reference to the East Riding of Yorkshire.

However it was also evident that the organisers had real knowledge about Spain, Spanish history and culture and spoke Spanish. They produced a very complete programme full of interesting facts about Spain; some serious and some amusing.

A large wooden floor area has been prepared for us with easy access to electric sockets which made setting up quick and easy.

We had been allocated two very good rooms to get changed so that aspect of our performance was also very comfortable and it meant that Rocio could get changed several times into her absolutely beautiful flamenco costumes.

Rocio was very popular and I noticed a lot of filming and photography which we were both very happy about and I hope to be able to add some of those to this blog at a later date.

Rocio was particularly impressive in her footwork or zapateado in the dances of Farruca and Fandangos and elegant in her arms or braceo in Soleares and Alegrias where she also produced some very complex zapateado patterns.

Her delicate Guajira with fan and lovely light coloured costume was especially well received.

In a situation like this one where there is very clearly a party atmosphere you do not anticipate that the audience will pay a lot of attention to the guitar solos and you accept that these will be background music while people eat and chat.

I was therefore so very happy when I noticed a number of people watching my compositions carefully, some filming and very genuine applause at the end of each piece. I tried to vary between the more gentle slower pieces and the more showy impressive pieces.

Rocio joined me for duets of guitar and castanets and of course people find this combination quite intriguing.

In addition to our large changing rooms the organisers had provided us with a very comfortable beautifully decorated rest area with a table of food for us for our intervals.

The night before we had performed in Hertfordshire and driven up to Yorkshire where a special Hotel arrangement awaited us.

All of this careful planning and concern for our comfort meant that we were able to give out full attention to our work and try to give the best performance we could.

We both have a very lovely memory of our time at Kilpin, East Yorkshire.

 

 

Paso Fino Horse Flamenco Dancing and Guitar Norton Heath Equestrian Centre

I provided a performance of Flamenco Dance, Castanets and Guitar for the presentation of the Paso Fino horse at the Norton Heath Equestrian Centre.

At first we were both a little scared of working in close proximity to horses but as we got involved it became one of the most delightful performances that we have given.

The Paso Fino horse is special and I guess you could say that about all breeds of horse each in their own way.

The Paso Fino is a small horse with a gentle nature and walks with small steps, hence the name Paso Fino or Fine Step. The horse riders took their Fino horses along a passage of wood flooring and this meant that we could hear the horses little steps like a percussive instrument.

We understood then why the horse owners wanted to have flamenco dancing at the presentation.

What was different was that we did not play for a dinner after the event but instead were right in the enclosure on the sand.

The horse made its steps down the wooden passage and then my dancer Rocio imitated or answered the steps with her own footwork on her wooden boards. What impresses me a great deal about Rocio is the way that she becomes absolutely involved with the situation. We had very little time to rehearse and yet she created perfect percussive footwork responses to the sound of the Paso Fino.

But as her own spontaneous creation she did something that I found quite lovely: once the horse has completed its passage the rider takes in round to start again but in contrast everything is most quiet and during these moments Rocio created a delicate display with her large Spanish dance shawl or Manton as we call it. I think all present felt that she had perfectly understood the atmosphere and was in tune with the rider and the horse.

In each passage the horse seemed to sound a little different especially because of the variety of steps and stops and starts which again Rocio answered perfectly.

There were other moments when I played a beautiful tremolo study to accompany a non percussive display and of course there was also time for some of our castanet and guitar duets and some normal flamenco dances.

As I said at the beginning at first we were a little apprehensive but we needn’t have been.

At one point a rider brought out a much bigger horse and rode it somewhat faster around the enclosure explaining the techniques to the audience. This rider brought his horse much closer to us and very close to my amplifier and yet is was absolutely clear that he had absolute control and that the horse was going exactly where he wanted in the way he wanted.

Not being a professional writer, it is difficult to convey here the passion and beauty of that event. We came away with the feeling that we would love to work with the Paso Fino horse and riders again at another opportunity.

I will add one or two photos of Rocio at that event. They are not very well taken but are really just as a memory for us.

Flamenco Dancer Paso Fino Horse

 

Beautiful Dancer Beautiful Paso Fino

Spanish Night Black Horse Elton Peterborough

I was delighted to present a night of flamenco dance with my new dancer Rocio Gomez as well as some guitar and castanet duets and some guitar solos for the Spanish night at the Black Horse pub in Elton Peterborough.

The whole evening was very well organised and the managers had purchased a large sheet of plywood which they fixed to the floor so that Rocio’s wonderful footwork could be fully heard.

We were in a special area but they had organsised the tables in such a way that all of the diners could see the show.

Rocio does not like rehearsing very much and she does not like to pre arrange set choreographies. Rather she likes to work with the inspiration that she feels at each event. Had this been just another Spanish paella night at a pub perhaps she might not have felt especially inspired but this was not the case.

From the moment that we arrived you could feel a kind of buzz. There were professional waiting staff who were being carefully directed by the managers to ensure that each person knew where they had to be and what they had to get done.  They were also very well turned out which I think matters in the same way that our professional costumes matter.

It shows the clients that the event is being taken seriously and managed with care.

Rocio certainly did feel inspired and impressed the diners with her opening dance of Fandangos in which she produces flamenco counterpoint percussive rhythms using her hand clapping and feet in combinations.

She also built a great crescendo with her footwork in Farruca and the delicacy of her dance style in Alegrias was much appreciated and I imagine that might be because delicate flamenco dancing is perhaps so well known.

Guitar and castanet duets included Sevillanas and Colombiana and I played a number of solos which gave Rocio time to change into her various beautiful costumes.

The people were all wonderfully appreciative and asked to have photos taken together with Rocio.

I was very happy with how the whole evening went and finally there was a small detail but that was touching.

Any musician who plays around eating venues can tell you that sometimes you have to seek the person who pays you at the end.

That was not my case as payment is done at a later date so I just packed everything up into the car and was ready to leave when one of the waitresses came out and quickly followed us to the car park and was concerned that we had not been paid and wanted us to come back to get paid.

I explained that it would all be taken care of but I went away thinking that the management and staff at the Black Horse in Elton really make sure that they get it all right on the night.

Here are some photos of that event:

Flamenco Guitarist and Dancer Spanish Event     

 

Tapas Night Flamenco Show

 

 

 

Paco de Lucia and Paco Pena Music in St. Albans

I had the exceptional pleasure of performing a recital of music by Paco de Lucia and  Paco Pena or to spell in Spanish Paco de Lucía and Paco Peña for a private event in St. Albans.

Sometimes quite unexpected things happen.

I was booked to play flamenco guitar music for a private event in St. Albans and at first I thought it would be alright because it always is.

People who hire me to play flamenco guitar music at their events generally know that they are booking.

These clients knew rather more!  You can read the e mails that I received from them on my Testimonials page in Maroon colour. Also they posted reviews of the event on my Last Minute Musicians profile.

They were a couple who had visited Andalucia several times and had made a point of looking out for authentic flamenco.

They told me that they particularly liked Paco de Lucia and Paco Pena and this was exciting news.

It gave me the opportunity to play the music that I really love.

I was very pleased at the reactions I received.

One of the guests had seen Paco Pena live at his first concert in Brighton and she recognised the pieces that I played.

For me and perhaps for any musician it is very rewarding when we can see that our music is meaningful to our listeners.

Another guest I noticed was very in tune with the rhythm and feeling of the pieces.

Many years ago when Paco Pena first started playing in Britain and in other countries outside of Spain I think it was somewhat more difficult. Quite naturally people did not understand the ‘language’ of flamenco but a great deal has happened over the years in terms of people becoming more familiar with a variety of musical expressions.

I am indebted to Paco Pena for his pioneering work that has paved the way flamenco guitarists to play traditional authentic flamenco guitar music and be understood outside of Spain.

After the event I heard that there were some guitarists present and that might explain why some guests seem to pay a great deal of attention. This never puts me off in the slightest; I love that there are guitarists present as indeed any music lovers.

It was a wonderful experience for me to play all my favourite flamenco pieces for a great audience.

Spanish Guitar Tapas Night White Hart Fyfield Oxfordshire

I was very pleased to play Spanish Flamenco and Classical Guitar music for the Tapas Night at the White Hart in Fyfield, Oxfordshire.

By following the mood throughout the evening I was able to select pieces from my repertoire to provide music that was appropriate as the evening developed.

Untypically I started quite energetically. There were a few diners in the first 20 minutes, they were friendly and very well disposed to having live music from a guitarist.

So, I began by playing happy celebratory flamenco styles such as Colombiana, Guajira and Rumba which are all of South American origin and then following with Alegrias, Zapateado and Fandangos which are all from Andalucia.

A little later I went upstairs to the gallery which is quite small and intimate so I felt it best to play some quiet Classical pieces and chose Capricho Arabe and Recuerdos de La Alhambra, both by Francisco Tarrega and then Romance Anonimo which as its name suggests is anonymous but certainly has been very much enjoyed by audiences all over the world for many years.

After my second break and having played in all the main dining areas I moved to the bar area which had all the  tables taken with diners.

I played the Romance Anonimo again and was delighted that one diner recognised it as her song. In contrast I played two rather fast Rumbas which were much enjoyed and I was touched by the very generous tip from another diner. It is very good to know that the music I am playing is really being enjoyed and such gestures confirm that.

I returned to the main hall to play Asturias by Isaac Albeniz and several flamenco pieces such as Bulerias, Tientos, Cantinas and Alegrias de Cordoba.

People go out to have diner and not to listen in silence to a guitar recital and that is the way it should be. I am always careful to make sure that the music is of a high standard as in concert because people have a right to expect quality in music as they do with the food.

On this point the chef at the White Hart very kindly provided me with a rather spectacular dinner of several dishes, all of which were unique, interesting and I am  sorry to say that I do not have refined manners; I left nothing on the plates!

It was a very pleasant evening for me and I hope that my Spanish Flamenco and Classical Guitar playing left a favourable impression on the diners.

 

Hire a Spanish Flamenco Guitarist

 

 

 

 

Flamenco Birthday Party Spanish Themed

I provided a performance of Solo Flamenco Guitar playing, duets and Castanets and Flamenco Dancing for a Spanish Themed Birthday Party.

The organisers of the party as well as the man celebrating his birthday had all lived in Spain and spoke Spanish very well.

As it was a big celebration they decided to book a Flamenco Act.

They held the event in their garden but instead of grass they have decking elevated to create a stage and further attached good quality wood to the decking which was important for the sound of the dancer’s footwork.

They also organised comfortable seating for their guests so that they could all watch the flamenco as a performance, rather than simply being in the background.

Sometimes keeping the music in the background is the right thing to do but it was lovely for us to perform in a setting that was very similar to the traditional flamenco night in Spain.

We performed several pieces from the serious flamenco repertoire such as Zambra, Soleares, Tientos, Seguiriyas, Granainas and it was wonderful that the guests listened and watched in practical silence. There is absolutely no need to do that at a garden party but it felt very rewarding that they enjoyed our performance so much.

We naturally also performed several of the lighter flamenco styles such as Alegrias, Colombiana, Guajira, Zapateado, Garrotin and the gentleman celebrating his birthday joined in for the dance of Sevillanas. The way he followed the dancer with her steps suggests to me that he must have enjoyed Spanish culture in his time in Spain.

It is absolutely considered right in Spain to join in with Sevillanas regardless of your level or experience in Flamenco dance. The idea in traditional Flamenco is not to compete but to enjoy the dancing experience and no one is interested in who dances best or who is still learning.

I am told that the host spent the whole week cooking and preparing food and this was evident from the quantity and quality of the dinner.

I received kind help from a neighbour with the lone of an extension lead which made it possible to position my amplifier in exactly the right place for optimum sound.

The whole evening was a very happy experience and we were very pleased to perform for this event.

Here are some photos:

 

Spanish Themed Flamenco Dance

Spanish Event Flamenco Dance

Flamenco Dancing Headington Festival Oxford

The organisers of the Headington Festival in Oxford approached the fabulous flamenco dancer, Laura to ask her if she could provide a performance of flamenco dance for the festival on Saturday 3rd June 2017.

They already knew of her high standard of flamenco dancing from her previous performances.

Laura said that she could and then approached me to ask if I would accompany her. Needless to say I was delighted to do so.

It was an absolutely beautiful day with radiant sunshine. We were set up in the street and were grateful for such good weather.

The festival organisers had supplied amplification and microphone and I was most grateful to sound engineer Juan Manuel who was on hand the whole time to adjust the microphone and loud speakers. Having a good sound without feedback is vital to a good performance.

This flamenco performance focused on Laura’s dancing and she danced her delightful Alegrias, her exhilarating Tangos and well as Fandangos, Sevillanas and Rumba.

At one point another Spanish flamenco dancer who lives in Oxford passed by and joined Laura for the Sevillanas. For the guitarist that is a challenge but also inspiring.

The difficulty is that if you have never met a dancer before you do not know what to expect and straight into performance without any kind of rehearsal means that you have to pay maximum attention to both dancers.

The joy is that this kind of spontaneity keeps flamenco vibrant and alive. There certainly is a place for the well choreographed flamenco show but there is also a place for the unexpected immediaccy in flamenco.

On this note Laura spotted a little girl who had been watching intently and fascinated by the flamenco dance.

Laura asked me to change the programme order and to play a Rumba so that she could invite the child to join in and indeed she did. I think it was wonderful not just for the child’s mother but for the whole crowd there to see how this little girl went straight for it and very successfully followed all of Laura’s moves.

Throughout the programme Laura also played some wonderful duets with my guitar playing for Sevillanas and Colombiana and gave me some very good palmas to accompany my Bulerias.

The crowd that gathered was wonderful and I was impressed with how attentive they were especially as one would not necessarily expect that is a street show.

We are both grateful to the organisers for giving us this performance space and the Master of Ceremonies for his kind words.

With the beautiful summer sun for that day it was as if Headington, Oxford was in Andalucia, Spain.

Flamenco: Cancer Research UK: St. Michael in the Northgate Oxford

I gave a flamenco guitar concert together with duets of guitar and castanets with the two wonderful flamenco dancers Maria Garcia and Rocio Gomez.

The concert was to raise funds for Cancer Research UK which is a charity dear to me heart as my mother died of cancer and I wish that the last months of her life could have been very different.

I understand from the Vicar Bob Wilkes of the church of St. Michael in the Northgate, Oxford that a good sum was raised.

We performed last year at St. Michael and so you can imagine that we are very happy to have  been asked to return.

I started the concert thsi time with Guajira which was a guitar piece with both flamenco dancers playing castanets.

Just before the concert I said to them as I frequently do: ” OK we have done all the rehearsing, now please enjoy yourselves and do whatever you feel is right”.

When playing with other flamenco performers I do not necessarily always want to know in advance how things are going to develop.

As these two flamenco castanet players know exactly what they are doing it is more exciting to just start together and let the music develop according to our inspiration in the moment.

Guajira was followed by Soleares as a solo and then Tientos y Tangos Flamencos with flamenco handclapping ( palmas) at the end with the more energetic Tangos rhythm.

We also played the very Arabic Zambra Mora and Maria and Rocio accompanied with little finger held bells.

Bulerias which is strongly Gipsy influenced was with palmas and the concert ended with a dance of Sevillanas.

I find it really rather difficult to convey what the concert was like in words.

It was a wonderful experience for us all. The audience were beautifully quiet and you could sense how they really did want to know about flamenco and really enjoy it.

Applause was most generous.

I used a minimum of amplification and the church acoustics suited the guitar perfectly.

Ideally, I would not use any amplification whatsoever but I did not want to risk losing the very fine notes such as harmonics.

I want to especially thank the concert organiser Rachel Constable not only for managing the event but especially for being my chauffeur to and from the concert as I was pretty sure I would get lost trying to drive in a town I do not know.

We were all so glad to have had this opportunity to perform flamenco once again at St Michael in the Northgate.

 

Flamenco:Cancer Research UK: St Michael in the Northgate Oxford

 

 

 

Tapas Evening at Verulam Golf Club St. Albans

On the night of Saturday 20 May 2017, I had the pleasure of performing Flamenco Guitar together with the wonderful Flamenco Dancer Laura at the Verulam Golf Club.

I read on their Facebook page that after 24 hours of announcing the event it was completely sold out. I am not surprised; the Spanish food I saw coming to the tables looked and smelt very authentic to me.

(Perhaps I should think about negotiating food as part of my fee!)

The Verulam Golf Club was a lovely place, very easy to find with easy parking.

There was a lovely relaxed but dignified atmosphere throughout our performance.

Naturally the members applauded Laura’s very impressive dancing and footwork and were visibly intrigued by her skilful castanet playing to accompany some of my pieces.

I was pleased to receive comments on my “passionate playing” because certainly passion is what flamenco is about.

We both felt the atmosphere was receptive and we performed a selection of authentic flamenco pieces which included Alegrias, Farruca, Soleares, Granainas,Tientos, Bulerias, Tangos Flamencos, Seguiriyas, Sevillanas, Fandangos as well as a few Spanish classical compositions such as Asturias, Recuerdos de La Alhambra and Romance Anonimo.

The general manager had carefully organised a good performance space for us with direct access to an electric socket which made setting up the microphone and amplifier very quick and easy. As such it was possible to produce a very good amplified sound without feedback.

Any performer will tell you that when the management take the time and interest to get these things right well in advance not only do you have a positive working environment but it all comes together to help you to feel at your best and in full performance mode.

Stage managers, as many in the theatre know are the unsung heroes of successful performances.

The dinner that had been organised included many dishes and went on quite late but when we took our leave it was with on the one hand some exhaustion as we had felt inspired to perform to our very best but this was tempered by a feeling of genuine happiness at having had the opportunity to perform for the delightful Verulam Golf Club event.

 

Guitarra española para una boda española

Versión en inglés

Hace poco tuve el placer de tocar música de guitarra española para una boda y fue una ocasión tan memorable que he querido compartir un poco mis recuerdos de esa oacasión.

La pareja que se casó era española y la verdad es que la música de la guitarra española era algo que les apasionaba.

Conocían muy bien el repetorio de la guitarra flamenca y clásica y tenían ideas específicas con respecto a las piezas que querían para el día de su boda.

Habían incluso considerado la posibilidad de casarse en España por varias razones y una de ellas era para poder disfrutar de auténtica música española.

Cuando contactaron conmigo por primera vez, tenían muy claro que querían música de concierto de alta calidad. Es decir, nada pachanguero, ¡con todos mis mayores respetos a los pachangueros,claro!

Habían escuchado varios ejemplos de mi toque en este sitio web y querían reunirse conmigo para hablar con detalle sobre la selección de mi música de guitarra para todo el día, es decir, la ceremonia y el convite.

Decidimos que daría buen ambiente que tocara la guitarra para acompañar el recibimiento de los invitados a la ceremonia, pero era importante que las piezas fueran bastante tranquilas y que no estropearan la sopresa de lo que iba a suceder más tarde.

Para la entrada de la novia querían una de mis piezas que sonara seria y serena. Les gustó mucho la Soleá que se escucha en este sitio web, pero me pidieron que hiciera un arreglo específico para que se ajustara perfectamente a la sincronización del recorrido. Me pareció estupendo y lo hice encantado.

Para la firma del registro querían un estado de ánimo felíz pero no abrumador así que les sugerí la Colombiana, que es de origén sudamericano y tiene una especie de vaivén suave con melodías implícitas en lugar de música y rítmos impetuosos.

Para la salida del cortejo de los recien casados querían que se escuchara la guitarra y les ofrecí un fragmento de un trémolo relajante. Pensé que esto era bastante apropiado porque por mucho que guste el sacramente del matrimonio con los votos matrimoniales, el “sí quiero”, no deja de ser una experiencia formal y seria y una vez terminada la ceremonia apetece más un ambiente relajante.

Para el convite los novios querían un recital de composiciones clásicas y de flamenco.

Estuve una tarde con ellos tocándoles mis piezas para que así pudieran hacerse una idea real de lo que más les gustaba y de esa manera confeccionar la música para su convite.

Como muchos músicos saben, a veces tocas en un evento y parece que nadie te escucha y la gente ni siquiera hace ademán de reconocer tu presencia.

Para mí fue exáctamente lo contrario.

Yo veía claramente que los novios y sus invitados realmente disfrutaban con mi música; me pidieron varias piezas y para mí fue un placer poder complacerlos.

Al final mi trabajo terminó y me despedí con preciosos recuerdos de un día de boda maravilloso.