Rafael Aguirre: “The guitar has opened doors to other worlds and cultures for me”

Presents in the Masters in Guitar cycle a program that crosses the Atlantic, back and forth, with works by Sabicas, Tárrega, Albéniz, Erik Satie, Fernando Bustamante and Ángel Barrios.

They are emblematic pieces of the Spanish and Latin American repertoire, and some more personal pieces that I have been playing a lot that are very much in the style that people relate to when they think of our guitar. And as you say, it is back and forth because it has been as present in Spain as in Latin America.

Health restrictions have turned live music upside down. In your case, how do you approach the concerts? Is that relationship diluted, the magic that is generated between artist and audience?

My personal opinion is that music is very important, and in world crises like this it is even more so. Really, people now is when they need food for the soul and not lose their enthusiasm and motivation, although it is true that it is a very complicated situation, almost impossible, to carry out any type of event, cultural or not. At this time people should not only take care of their physical but also spiritual health, because without that food it seems very difficult for me to be able to fight against the pandemic that has everyone in suspense. I do not think I will lose the magic, because I encourage people that when they go to a concert, and if it is guitar like this, that for a moment they close their eyes and let themselves be carried away by the music, which will come in handy .

“With the guitar you travel faster than with an airplane, it is the greatest power that music has”


Does Spanish and classical guitar have an audience? What value does it have today on the Spanish and international scene for someone like you who began to stand out with the instrument in recitals at the age of 14?

The Spanish guitar had a very strong wave, and I think it has been affected by everything that is the music industry worldwide, before instruments were used more, I mean that if you saw a group there was always guitar, drums, bass, …, and today singers are more dedicated to having electronics behind. As it has been eliminated, just like that, for purely economic reasons because it is cheaper to pay only one singer. With which, to me, as you can imagine, it seems like an aberration because it is almost taking the soul out of a song. In its day, with bands that used electric guitars, such as the Beatles or Rolling Stones, for example, the classical was being promoted, it had a very big boom, and in Spain figures such as Andrés Segovia and Narciso Yepes, who filled the Teatro Real in Madrid , and that has disappeared a bit. But since the guitar is such a popular instrument in the world, probably the one that most people play as amateurs, and although it might seem that they have forgotten a bit, when they go to a concert their memory refreshes; why the guitar is such a wonderful instrument that connects with practically all cultures through folklore, and in my case with classical music it is an incentive to be able to play the great composers.

You start from the classical guitar tradition with the desire to expand your repertoire, both in the classical and popular spheres. His recordings include Transcriptions, for the German label KSGExaudio, where he transcribed works by Bach, Scarlatti, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin written for piano for guitar.

I studied at conservatories in different countries, first in Spain and then in Germany and England, and I always saw pianists and violinists play the great composers such as Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and I really liked playing Tárrega, Rodrigo , …, but I was healthy envy of them, and what I did was to have fun. I am a great fan of classical music, and I got into playing those transcriptions just like I got into other types of music: cinema, pop, folklore from here and there. And it is something that I love because with the guitar you travel faster than with a plane [Risas]. I have my library at home, and I say to myself: this one from Japan, that one from Germany and that one from Paraguay, and it is wonderful and is an example of the greatest power that music has, that it takes you away from where you are.

“People now is when they need food for the soul, and not lose hope and motivation”


That sonic journey has also allowed him to experiment to date with other artists and formats, get closer to Latin rhythms, Brazil in particular, in short, try other colors for the guitar.

Yes, it makes people happy. And above all, more than an end at the repertoire level, which I can also have and which is a very academic thing, the end is to achieve what the guitar has given me on a personal level, which has opened the doors of other worlds for me. even outside of music, other cultures, geographies, and the possibility of cultivating my ear and that all that makes me a better person.

What destinations to discover do you have on the horizon?

I would like all the people who have a potential to love the instrument and who can enrich their life, that I can contribute to it. It is a fairly broad goal because we are talking about thousands of people. Someday I would like to write about everything I have experienced.

“The classic had its peak in Spain with great figures like Segovia and Yepes, and that has disappeared”


His international projection, between awards, concerts and master classes is almost that of an ambassador for guitar.

This is curious because some see me as an ambassador of Spanish culture, and at the same time it is the other way around, because all cultures bathe me, and it makes my way of playing enriched. My guitar is Spanish but very international in its way of expressing itself.


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