Archives for May 2017

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.