Travels far and wide
It's only May but 2014 has already been a busy year with lots of great performances, travels and adventures; I have seen familiar faces and far-off places, I ate a fish that flies and a bird that doesn't, and I drank the nectar of many gods in many new and exotic lands.
For more photos from these travels visit the Photo Gallery
NEW Zoco Duo CD Historias to be released this July
The hour-long programme aims to demonstrate the full range of sounds, colours and textures available to the guitar and oboe/cor anglais. From the haunting and mournful quality of Rodrigo's Spanish songs to the sultry precision of the Argentinean tango, the virtuosic excitement and drama of Giuliani's potpourri of Italian Opera to the playfully eclectic musical illustrations of Ibert, Historias illuminates the remarkable versatility of this unique pairing through thoughtful arrangements of well-loved classics and unknown gems.
The CD includes works by: Manuel de Falla, Mauro Giuliani, Jacques Ibert, Astor Piazzolla, Máximo Diego Pujol, Maurice Ravel, Joaquín Rodrigo and Fernando Carlos Tavolaro, and will be available online through the Zoco Duo website and through Cala Records, as well as countless other retail and online stores available as both physical copy and digital download.
Visit the Zoco Duo webstie to read more
A rare opportunity to perform on a rare guitar...
For these concerts, I performed on a guitar from the museum’s collection, an original Enrique Garcia made in Barcelona in 1913, not more than 15 minutes away from the concert stage. Garcia was a well-known and well respected luthier, considered to be the founder of the ‘Catalan’ school and an inspiration for the likes of Simplicio and Fleta. Garcia made some of the finest guitars of his generation and was even the instrument of choice of Francisco Tárrega for many years.
The repertoire for these concerts consisted of some of the quintessential Spanish guitar music by Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Malats and Francisco Tárrega. All of these composers, whose lives overlapped and who died within in a decade of each other, lived and worked in Barcelona at some point in their lives. Malats, Albéniz and Granados were all born in Catalunya, and Tárrega, though born in the neighbouring province of Valencia lived his final days in Barcelona.
All these elements combined, and sitting on a stage surrounded by a collection of historical musical relics gave me the illusion that I was back in the época de oro of Spanish guitar. This unique experience was an absolute joy.
Concert life on a cruise ship
Whilst last year I only performed on two ship, so far this year Laura and I - performing as Zoco Duo - have already given performances on four, including Cunard's regal Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2. The entire experience is truly fascinating; aside from giving a number of concerts in spectacular theatres (seating anywhere from 200 to 1000) it also gives the opportunity to visit some stunning places; almost a working holiday.
This year, Laura and I have spent anywhere from 10 -18 days on-board, in which time we are only required to perform between 3 and 6 concerts; in each concert we present a different 45 minute programme of music. As we are static, and thus share our music with the same guests in each concert, we are able to build a connection with our audiences and it is a great experience to play several programmes of music to the same people; the rapport that develops is, I think, special and unique for both the listener and the performer.
When we're not performing or rehearsing, or working on countless other projects (much of our free time since February was spent working towards the CD release), we are travelling as passengers and able to enjoy all the amenities the ship has to offer; fine dining with white star service (accompanied by a string quartet or harpist), a gym, cinema, live entertainment including lectures, cabaret and instrumentalists and finally, my favourite, a lounge pianist to serenade us while we drink cocktails, eat canapés and enjoy the view from the ship's crow's nest.
Cruising highlights ...
New Caledonia, Oman, Réunion, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Some of the highlights have been snorkelling
above the coral reef in Noumea, New Caledonia, sipping a beer on the beach in Barbados, travelling through the majesty of Milford Sound in New Zealand, visiting a souk in Oman and seeing the lush irrigated fields in Egypt contrasted with the dry and barren Sinai Desert from the vantage point of the Suez Canal.
Through it all, as I settle back in to life in Barcelona, I find I am perfectly content with my patatas bravas, chipirones a la andaluza, jamon iberico and pa amb tomàquet washed down with a glass of rueda, or cava, or a bottle of Estrella.