The New York Guitar Festival and Arts Brookfield will once again present a two day celebration of the guitar itself with a series of performances slated to take place May 18 and 19 in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place in New York City. Located at 230 Vesey St, this year’s festival returns for a 10th year and has been titled ‘Los Sonidos de España’ or ‘The Sounds of Spain’ and will feature fresh takes on both classical and flamenco style guitar play. All events are free to the public. Performances feature names such as Grammy Award-winner Sharon Isbin and classical guitar legend Pepe Romero who will both play solo sets as well as ones with special guests throughout the two-day event.
The New York Guitar Festival has been presenting world class performers at iconic venues both large and small in New York City since 1999. Past performers includes such names as Taj Mahal, Bill Frisell, Leo Kotke and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few. This year’s festival promises to shine a light on the beauty of classical Spanish music and roots of flamenco. “Guitar playing is one of the three pillars of Flamenco, the other two being singing and dance,” explains the festival’s Artistic director David Spelman. “And while the guitar has a central role in accompanying singers and dancers, it has developed into a solo artform on its own.”
Friday, May 18, 12:30 p.m.
Triple threat Marija Temo does it all: she sings, dances, and fiercely plays flamenco guitar. Praised for her formidable chops, Temo plays a guitar specifically tailored to the nuances of both classical and flamenco; she co-designed this unique instrument with luthier Tom Rodriguez. Although immersed in flamenco tradition, Temo also plays pop crossover and solos with symphonies. Composer Loris Ohannes Chobanian wrote the Concierto del Fuego especially as a showcase for Temo’s individual synthesis of classical rigor and Spanish style. She performed in Fuego Ibérico, a flamenco musical inspired by cabaret. Currently, she serves as Guitar Chair at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Temo received a Master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Manuel Barrueco. Her solo recital at this year’s NYGF marks her first appearance at the Festival since “Audible Cloisters” in 2016.
Friday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.
Classical guitar legend and Festival friend Pepe Romero returns to the NYGF for the first time since 2014. On that occasion, Romero gave an all-Bach recital. This time, the maestro will pay tribute to his father, Celedonio Romero, and the music of Spain, particularly that of his native Málaga. Romero will focus on flamenco guitar, bringing with him a to-be-announced roster of special guests, singers, and dancers. Among his celebrated accomplishments, Romero has premiered works – composed especially for him – by Rodrigo and Torroba. He’s recorded more than 60 albums across his career, 30 of which were as part of a quartet with his father and brothers in The Romeros, an ensemble widely regarded as “The Royal Family of the Guitar.” In addition to championing new works for the instrument, Romero has also rescued previously lost concerti by Giuliani and Carulli, among others, bringing them out of the archives and into the light.
Saturday, May 19, 12:30 p.m.
Adam del Monte, with special guests Sonia Olla and Ismael Fernández
Known for the introspective lyricism of his classical guitar style as well as the exuberant spontaneity of his flamenco repertoire, Adam del Monte delights and moves audiences with his mastery of both art forms. In addition to performing iconic works by Albéniz and Tárrega, del Monte has composed two concertos for flamenco guitar and orchestra. His most recent recording, Asi lo siento yo, features collaborations with other flamenco musicians in songs that integrate aspects of tango, jazz, and Gypsy soul. Del Monte has also made music for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Osvaldo Golijov, and film composer John Williams. Joining del Monte for his afternoon program will be the flamenco dancer and choreographer Sonia Olla (described by the New York Times as “a furnace of earthy sensuality”) and her partner, the Seville-born cantadore Ismael Fernández.
Saturday, May 19, 7:30 p.m.
Sharon Isbin, with guest artist Romero Lubambo
New York Guitar Festival proudly welcomes back Sharon Isbin, whose performance last year was a major highlight of the 2017 Festival. This time, Isbin’s program will feature a combination of solos and duos with her guest, the Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo. Isbin and Lubambo, who performed together in the award-winning documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour, share a lyrical sensibility that makes their duets a natural elision of improvisation, classical music, and cross-cultural exploration. A two-time Grammy winner and founder of the guitar department at Juilliard, Isbin has premiered works by Tan Dun, John Corigliano, and Christopher Rouse, among other composers, that were written especially for her. Isbin’s most recent recording, Alma Española, pairs her with the mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard for a set of Spanish art songs by Montsalvatge, Agustín Lara, and Lorca. Hailed as much for her “mesmerizing finesse” as for the range of her repertoire, Isbin has recorded everything from Baroque and Renaissance to contemporary classical to Latin American traditions in Journey to the Amazon.