Pepe Romero, widely seen as one of the greatest masters of classical guitar in our time, included a performance at the 42nd Annual Istanbul Music Festival as part of his world tour 70th birthday celebration.
Romero quips, “When I first began, people were astounded and said, ’how amazing he can play so well for being such a little boy’ and now they say ‘how amazing that he can play so well for an old man’. I actually feel practically the same.
That first time performance that he refers to was when he was only seven years old and was in Sevilla at the Teatro Lope de Vega. Unfortunately no photos were taken of this concert, but here is one taken upon his family’s arrival in the United States, when he was a young teen.
Making the Istanbul Music Festival an important stop on his 70th Birthday World Tour was a natural choice for Romero. He has played at the festival before and his first solo recital in Turkey was at the Festival years ago. Of Istanbul audiences he says, “I always look forward to the heartfelt and enthusiastic public in Istanbul.” Australia, Korea, Germany, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New York City, Texas, California and several master classes and performances at the Celedonio Romero Guitar Institute in Oklahoma, named for his famous musician father are also part of this year’s 70th birthday world tour plans.
At the 42nd Annual Istanbul Music Festival Romero performed: Luis Milan “Fantasy No.16”; Gaspar Sanz “Danzas Espanolas”; Fernando Sor “Variations on a Theme from the Magic Flute, Op.9”; Francisco Tarrega “Capricho Arabe & Gran Jota”; Joaquin Rodrigo “Fandango”; Federico Moreno Torroba “Sonatina”; Joaquin Turina “Fantasia Sevillana”; Isaac Albeniz “Leyenda”; Rumores de la Caleta”; and from his late father, Celedonio Romero’s “Fantasia Cubana”.
Of this program, Romero says, “I am lucky enough that I choose the repertoire that I am in love with and want to share with the audience. This program I present in Istanbul shows the development of guitar repertoire in Spain’s history beginning with the Spanish Renaissance pieces of Milan and continuing through the Romantic period of Sor and Giuliani, up to the 20th century of great Spanish composers.”
Looking back on his career so far, Romero comments, “The highlights of my music-making include premiering new works, whether they are new compositions or newly discovered compositions brought to life from the past. These are certainly big moments in my concert career. Also, performing with the composer present – like Rodrigo, Torroba, Montsalvatge, Chihara, Cordero, Palomo, Francisco de Madina, Morton Gould have been unforgettable experiences for me and my family.”
Romero continues, “My 70th birthday tour includes seven different guitar concertos (one of them was a premiere for me), a recital of all Bach compositions, an all Tárrega program, 3 different recital programs, concerts with my family, los Romeros, chamber music concerts with string quartets, and more.”
Here is a Youtube clip of Romero performing at The Guitar Arts Festival in Belgrade in 2011—
This year’s Istanbul Music Festival is almost concluded. There were performances throughout the city during most of the month of June. If you would like information about next year’s Istanbul Music Festival keep your eyes on the Istanbul Music Festival Website.