Concierto de la Amistad
Hailed for his superior artistry as the Spanish maestro of the guitar, Angel
Romero’s eminence in the music world as soloist and conductor is heralded by
audiences and critics alike. One of the most sought-after musicians of his
generation, Angel Romero has appeared in the major cultural centers throughout
the world including those of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Munich,
Zurich, Chicago, Los Angles and New York among others. He has appeared as
soloist with such leading orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the
Cleveland Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, and
the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. As conductor, he has led numerous
orchestras worldwide including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Academy of St.
Martin in the Fields, the Royal Philharmonic, Germany’s NDR Symphony
Orchestra and the Berlin Symphoniker, the Beijing Philharmonic, the Euro-Asia
Philharmonic, the Shanghai Symphony, the Bogotá Philharmonic, the Chicago
Sinfonietta, the Orquesta de Baja California, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the
San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Chamber Orchestra among others.
Regardless of his role on stage, his driving intensity and flawless control mark
him as a true master of the arts.
]Angel Romero’s extensive discography includes highly acclaimed recordings for
Delos International, RCA Victor Red Seal and RCA Victor Worldwide, Telarc
and Angel/EMI. In 2001, Delos released “Bella,” which includes monumental
pieces such as Bach's Air on the G String to Romero's own father's Tango
Angelita - a composition dedicated to his late mother. In 1999, “Romero Plays
Rodrigo” was released featuring works written for and dedicated to Angel
Romero through his long and close relationship with the Spanish composer. In
1998, he was featured as soloist and conductor in an acclaimed recording of
Vivaldi’s guitar concertos with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. In 1995,
RCA released a crossover recording of flamenco and pop music, featuring Angel
Romero playing a diverse repertoire spanning works from Pachelbel to Bill
Conti. This particular recording features Mr. Romero’s world-premiere
transcriptions for one guitar.
In February 2000 he was presented with the highest honor that the country of
Spain has to offer, the Grand Cross of Isabel la Catolica and was knighted Sir
Angel Romero in reverence of his astounding musical accomplishments. In 2007,
Angel Romero was honored by the Recording Academy, producer of the
Grammy Awards, with the Recording Academy President’s Merit Award for his
significant contributions to the music world and for his professional career
Angel Romero is noted for his activities in the film industry. In 1989, he
performed the entire score for “The Milagro Bean Field War” directed by Robert
Redford. In 1994, he composed and directed the musical score for the Gabriele
Retes film “Bienvenido-Welcome,” which opened at the Muestra del Cine film
festival in Guadalajara. For his work on this film, Mr. Romero won the 1995
ARIEL (the “Academy Award” of Mexico) in the category of music written
originally for film. He also performed and recorded the entire score for the film
“By The Sword” composed by Bill Conti, and played a cameo role in the major
motion picture “Bound by Honor,” a Taylor Hackford film.
Born in Malaga, Spain, Angel Romero made his professional debut at the age of
six and his United States debut at the Hollywood Bowl when he was 16 giving
the West Coast premiere of the famed Rodrigo’s “Aranjuez Concerto.” This
occasion also marked the first time a guitarist was featured as soloist with the
Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 1991, he gave the world premiere of Joaquin Rodrigo’s
“Rincones de España” at New York’s Lincoln Center. Mr. Romero studied
conducting privately with Eugene Ormandy, the legendary conductor of the
Philadelphia Orchestra. Angel Romero has played for numerous world leaders
including his globally telecast 1992 appearance in the United Nations General
Assembly Hall with the National Orchestra of Spain under the baton of Rafael
Frühbeck de Burgos. The performance was by invitation of then Secretary
General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to promote world peace and to celebrate the
500th Anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra – “Yet the evening’s ultimate pleasure arrived in the person of Sir Angel Romero, guitarist extraordinaire, who collaborated with (JoAnn) Falletta and company in a reading of Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” that lit up the work’s bewitching facets of fire, tenderness and joy. Then Romero added a still more brilliant encore, a blazing account of his father Celedonio Romero’s “Fantasia,” a virtuoso flight that had to be seen to be fully appreciated.”
- The Detroit News
“Equipped with a fluid baton technique and an expressive left hand, he coaxed and cajoled the musicians into giving him what he wanted. At times, as in the Beethoven (Seventh Symphony), he leaned forward as if to pull the sound from the players and their instruments…the excitement was undeniable, prompting many in Friday’s audience to respond with enthusiastic appreciation. He brought welcome verve to the occasion. And his confidence in conducting the 46 minute long performance from memory was further evidence of an uncommonly gifted, and versatile musician.”
- San Diego Union-Tribune
“The handsome Romero charmed his orchestra, eliciting nods, smiles and strong body language from principal players…The Mozart Divertimento was light-hearted but full of energy. Romero seems to love life and have fun with it. He brings his own personality to the stage, reminiscent of the late Leonard Bernstein, who could coax superior work from his orchestra…Romero is serious about the music but wants it it to be enjoyed, not just performed. His style of conducting reflects that, with unconventional gestures, exaggerated cues and shifts in emphasis that only a talented and well-rehearsed orchestra could match.”
- Arizona Daily Sun
“As guest soloist and guest conductor of the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Romero was much more than a celebrated guitarist. That he demonstrated a sensitive and highly lyric approach to all he played was to be expected. That he also conducted with the same precision and nobility of spirit was a major plus. Romero conducted one of Reno’s most musically rewarding concerts in memory.”
- Jack Neal’s Music Reviews
“It is perhaps to the credit of guest conductor Angel Romero, he of the famous Spanish guitar family, that the strings sounded so well rehearsed and so passionate. From the stately opening of the Handel piece, crisp, well-judged tempi and clean attacks prevailed. Details of dynamics and phrasing were nicely observed. This was no anemic “authentic” Handel with baroque bowing techniques, but a robust and highly satisfying reading that characterized Romero’s overall approach to everything. I don’t think I have ever heard the San Diego Chamber Orchestra strings playing so well.”
“Romero’s taste for assertive playing was apparent in the way he brought out the intensity of the opening section of Handel’s Concerto Grosso, Opus 6, No. 10. His enthusiasm for brisk tempos was evident during peppy passages in Grieg’s “Holberg Suite.” But Romero also savored subtlety. He emphasized the alluring rhythms and tone colors of Turina’s “La Oracion del Torero.” The Spanish composer’s 1927 piece for string orchestra was alive with tremolos, pizzicatos, chromanticism and impressionism.”
- San Diego Union-Tribune
“Maestro Romero’s enthusiasm as a conductor was transferred to both orchestra and audience. He possesses a formidable guitar technique and thoroughly enjoys making music. Following his solo performance he emerged as a most commanding conductor, shaping the picturesque sounds of “El amor brujo” in an engaging manner. The (Chicago) Sinfonietta responded with the most introspective playing of the evening.”
- The Chicago Crusader
“But the real story of the evening lay in the performance of Romero. He appeared with his guitar, made his adjustments to his seating, tuned up carefully, pocketed his glasses and then lit into the Rodrigo with the energy of a young man in love. His face shone. His body swayed. His fingers flew over the fingerboard with great precision.”
- Fresno Bee
“Unlike many younger players, he felt no need to display technique for its own sake. He had it in abundance, and he used it unobtrusively in the service of the music.”
- The Washington Post
“Guitarist Angel Romero’s playing in “Concierto Aranjuez” was beyond reproach. Since he first recorded it in the 70s, he has made it his own. Every pluck, ornament, chord and arpeggio unfolded flawlessly and viscerally.”
- The Birmingham News
New York Philharmonic – “Lovely accuracy, sweet tone and elegance.”
- The New York Times
“A musician of rare quality, blandishing in his attacks, warm and insinuating in his phrasing.”
- The Los Angeles Times
Pittsburgh Symphony – “Technical prowess, earnestness of purpose and sensitivity to the music.”
- Pittsburgh Press
“His Spanish guitar music vibrates with the heroic digital work and high coloration associated with the repertory.”
- Time Magazine
Cleveland Orchestra – “He played with clarity and crispness. In slow lyrical movements, he produced a lovely, singing tone, especially full and round in the lower register. His interpretations were simple, direct and tasteful.”
- The Plain Dealer
London Philharmonic Orchestra – “These were the finest live performances of the works in question ever heard in London: clean, strong, eloquently phrased and delivered with unfailing beautiful tone.”
- Music and Musicians
Rincones de España
VIEW FROM THE FRONT ROW
Living the Dream
Rincones de España pays homage
to my friend
by Angel Romero
I once dreamt a fairy tale of a young man meeting a great composer. In reality, I was the young man and Joaquín Rodrigo was the great composer.
Many years ago, at the age of 16, I had the opportunity to perform the West Coast premiere of a guitar concerto that I had admired since childhood: Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. My next dream was to meet the great Rodrigo. This occurred in 1966 on the occasion of the premiere of the Concierto Madrigal for two guitars that I played with my brother—Pepe Romero—with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of the great conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos. This was the first time I was in the presence of this great composer, and very quickly our friendship bloomed into a very close and fraternal relation. I had the pleasure of going to Rodrigo’s home often to spend time with him not only as a friend, but professionally as well—he was fond of me as an interpreter of his works.
On his visits to the United States he would sometimes stay with my family [near San Diego] and I often had the pleasure of taking long walks with him on the beach in Del Mar, where we enjoyed many private moments sharing questions and giving advice, as a grandfather and grandson might. During one of these walks on the beach, I asked him if he would write a concerto for me. With his arm resting on mine, he told me warmly that he was too old to write such a piece, but that I would be the perfect vehicle to realize this work. He laughed as he patted my shoulder and said “Angelin, you know my music as well as I do.” He told me that he had long wanted to put into
Angel Romero is the youngest son of legendary guitarist Celedonio Romero, who, along with Angel’s brothers Pepe and Celin, formed the widely admired Los Romeros guitar quartet in 1960, three years after the family emigrated from Spain to America. He continued playing with Los Romeros until 1990, when he was replaced by Celin’s son Celino. Following Celedonio’s death in 1996, Angel’s son Lito joined. Angel has enjoyed a long, distinguished career as a guitarist, composer and conductor. Here, he shares memories of his close relationship with Joaquín Rodrigo, which ultimately resulted in Angel writing a concerto called Rincones de España (“Corners of Spain”), based partially on themes conceived by Rodrigo. The work debuted at Lincoln Center in 1991.
a work a set of themes which he had collected over the years, titled Rincones de España. When I heard him say all these things to me, my excitement grew to a point where I lost touch with reality for a moment, left him on the side of the sand, and dove into the ocean! When I came out of the water, I again took his arm as he stood there smiling. As he was blind, the expression on his face was one of amusement and at the same time worry about where I had disappeared to.
Soon after his return to Spain, he surprised me with a letter and package that included a piano score titled Rincones de España. Accompanying the themes, was a written statement from him to me which I have kept and cherished all these years: “Through my years I have collected these themes which I have titled Rincones de España which I send you, Angel, with the greatest admiration and affection, knowing that only one such as you will put pen to paper with the most gratifying outcome.”
One can only imagine the emotions that I, an interpreter of Rodrigo’s music, felt upon receiving this treasured gift.
A few years went by before I
decided to finally write the concerto Rincones de España. I tried to be as faithful as possible, using Rodrigo’s own harmonies and order of the themes. I took some liberties, as allowed by him, to embellish and augment the original themes, taking them through my own feelings and imagination, and different changes of keys. I added harmonies and also included a slow movement in which I presented my own theme and created my own signature. In a way, it was a heartfelt thank you to show my gratitude to him for his gift— this incredible vehicle which allowed me to express myself and tell, through music, about my life in Spain, my immigration as a young boy to a new world called the United States of to Disneyland. It was quite something to see the maestro going up and down, screaming inside a roller coaster car. He had an incredible zest for life and a tremendous sense of humor, which can very much can be heard in some of his compositions.
The way I am today, years later, is a personification of all of these great experiences I had with him and with others. I can still recall clearly that when as I was putting the theme of “León” down [in Rincones de España] my own
inspiration came into play and brought [Rodrigo’s] original theme to an abrupt halt—“This is where my theme comes in.”
After I drift far away from the original theme and go into a full development of my own theme, I bring it to a close with a solo guitar cadenza, which speaks of all the themes, including my own. As it approaches the end of the large cadenza, the guitar brings back Rodrigo’s suggested theme with a lush orchestral tutti. This climactic moment is where I musically blend the mutual love and respect between Rodrigo and myself.
As an epilogue to the above I must say: “Thank you, Don Joaquín, for having allowed me to be part of your life, not only musically, but personally. I ate with you, I laughed with you, I swam at the beach with you. You took care of me when I needed you, as I also took care of you. I miss you. I wish I could hear your laughter again, although I do musically when I hear some of your themes. You never were able to hide your personality, or disguise it in any way, in your music. You, as a person, with all your God-given attributes, will always live through your music. Thank you for the words of
guidance that you gave which helped inspire me to put pen to paper and write this concerto based around your themes.” CGAmerica, and my close relationship with my father, my mother, and my brothers.
When I arrived, I was one week shy of 11 years old and had no idea of how to speak English. The first word I learned was “come,” like “follow me,” but without knowing what it really meant, so
I always wondered why at the playground all the kids would follow me wherever I went. I asked one of my Spanish-speaking friends, “Why are so many kids following me and laughing?” He answered me, smiling: “Could it be because you keep repeating ‘Come’? Maybe you should learn some other words.”
At the time, this made me laugh hysterically.
The transition from Spain to the United States was difficult for me. Over time, I became more Americanized—like other kids, I enjoyed the cowboys and Indians I would see on television and in the movies—but I never forgot the feelings of that young boy from Spain. Throughout my youth, I listened constantly to Spanish music, and I always looked up to Joaquín Rodrigo as representing the pinnacle of Spanish music.
When I finally did meet Rodrigo, I found that he was very much of the same temperament as I was, to the point where he asked my family to take him
‘Rodrigo had an incredible zest for life and a tremendous sense of humor which can very much be heard in some of his compositions.’