83.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, May 26, 2024


Dec. 23, 2001 – Classical and flamenco guitarist Francisco Burgos will be making his Caribbean debut this week performing in the Virgin Islands — and for the occasion he will be playing something quite rare: a work composed for classical guitar that has a Caribbean theme.
Burgos will appear Wednesday at Tillett Gardens in the Classics in the Garden series opener for the Arts Alive concert season.
The Caribbean-influenced work is "Suite Antillaise," by Francis Kleynjans, a contemporary Parisian composer.
"When I was invited to perform in the Virgin Islands, I started to look for music to be included in my program that somehow relates to this area," Burgos said in an interview from his home in Miami. "By chance, I ended up buying Kleynjans 'Suite Antillaise,' since the title was very suggestive …
"The more I played this piece, the more I fell in love with it. It is a very evocative work, at least from my point of view. Images of sailing ships coming into the harbor of an island in the French Antilles during the early 1900s … people saying goodbye from the docks to travelers who will sail the oceans came to my mind. I don't know if that was Kleynjans' idea when he composed this piece, but it definitely has made that impression on me. It is a wonderful piece to perform."
This is the fourth year that Tillett Gardens and the St. John School of the Arts have booked a classical/flamenco guitarist for the week between Christmas and New Year's. Spanish artist Virginia Luque appeared in 1998, and U.S. guitarist Dennis Koster was featured in 1999 and 2000.
Burgos, born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, brings a new dimension as a native Latin American. In a repertoire that spans five centuries, he draws as much on his New World roots as on the Old World traditions of classical and flamenco music.
He studied classical guitar at Madrid's Royal Conservatory of Music and lived in Spain for 11 years, studying with Andres Segovia, Jose Luis Rodrigo and a specialist in ancient guitar music, Argentina's Jorge Fresno. In New York, where he made his classical guitar debut in 1979 at the Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, he studied 20th century music analysis and conducting at the Juilliard School.
The first portion of Burgos' program on both St. Thomas and St. John consists of classical works — a prelude, fugue and allegro by J.S. Bach; two sonatas by Scarlatti; and works by three Spanish composers — Variations on a Theme of Mozart by Fernando Sor, three pieces including "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" by Francisco Tarrega, and "Asturias" by Isaac Albeniz.
In the second part of the program, Burgos will perform "Cochichando" ("Whispering") by the Brazilian choro popular music composer Pixinguinha, the "Suite Antillaise," a sonatina by Spain's Federico Moreno-Torroba and several pieces by contemporary flamenco composers Paco Pena and Juan Martin.
"From a very young age, Brazilian music has been one of my favorites," Burgos said. "I
first came in contact with it in the early '60s when bossa nova came out with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfa, Badem Powell and many other great musicians from Brazil. But later in life, when I was studying classical guitar in Spain, Villalobos' music became the door to enter and discover other types of Brazilian music styles that were more rooted in the popular music of Brazil, specially the choro.
"This is the case of Pixinguinha, who even though he did not write for guitar per se, his music — in this case arranged for guitar by Carlos Barbosa Lima — seems to fit the guitar perfectly, and it is really fun to play. It has an air of samba, very lively."
Federico Moreno-Torroba, Burgos said, "was a great Spanish composer. He wrote many works for classical guitar, first at the request of Andres Segovia and later for many other guitarists. He was the first composer in the 20th century who was not a guitarist to decide to tackle the task of writing a large-scale work for solo guitar. The sonatina that I will be performing was his first composition for guitar … His music has a very Spanish flavor from the Castillian region of Spain. I find his music very romantic and intimate but at the same time, like in his fastest movements, he shows a knack for rhythm that makes you dance."
Burgos is a composer, too. His work "The Return" was premiered in 1992 in observance of the Columbus Quincentenary. The piece is the final movement of a trilogy whose first parts are "Mediterranean" and "Tropical Night." According to the notes from his new CD, "Rhapsody," the idea behind each movement "was to create a mood for each stage of Columbus' voyage from Spain to the Caribbean and back to Spain."
He also has taught classical guitar at Spain's Avila Conservatory and at Glassboro State College in New Jersey and markets his own method of study. He encourages students of guitar to "learn as many musical styles as possible," and readily acknowledges that rock, pop, jazz and Latin genres have influenced his development "as a performer and musician."
He will be using just one guitar in his Virgin Islands concerts. With tropical weather and the out-of-doors venue on St. Thomas, he said, "I might have to tune it often."
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $30 and $25. Still available in addition to individual concert tickets are season packages of any four performances which offer a 10 percent discount.
Café Amici will cater a pre-performance dinner in Tillett Gardens that will have the caterer's "signature tiramisu as the finale," Classics in the Garden producer Rhoda Tillett said. Dinner patrons remain at their tables for the concert afterward. The prix fixe for the three-course mean is $30 excluding bar service and gratuity.
Reservations are urged for the concert and are required for the dinner. They be made by calling 775-1929, faxing to 775-9482 or e-mailing to Arts Alive.
Burgos also will perform Thursday at the St. John School of the Arts. For information about that program, call 776-6777.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.