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Classical guitar to be showcased tomorrow

Monday, July 2, 2018
Cuban clasical guitarist Ricardo Mateo Torres.

Premiered last evening, Prelude – The Cuban Guitar will be repeated on Sunday, July 8, at Trinidad Theatre Workshop, 6 Newbold Street, St Clair.

This one-of-a-kind concert promises interested audiences a glimpse into the finesse and delicacy of guitar music. The concert features Cuban classical guitarist Ricardo Mateo Torres as well as local instrumentalists Keisha Martinez, Rellon Brown and Shurvone Brathwaite.

Concert organiser Alan Cooper said he has a deep fondness for the classical guitar, of which he himself is a practitioner, and he thinks T&T should see more of it. “To me, the guitar music of Venezuela, Brazil and Spain is among the most beautiful in the world,” said Cooper, “and some of that music will be featured in Prelude.

“The concert is simply enjoyable music that is very, very well played. It features selections mainly from Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and, of course, Cuba, which is central to this show. The music from these countries is rhythmic and syncopated, very much like our own Trinidadian music.

Therefore the public will be able to relate to it well. I think it will also be refreshing to hear new music played on an instrument seldom heard played in T&T in this way.”

Cooper said he met Mateo Torres at the 2018 Biennial Music Festival, where Cooper learned that he is temporarily stationed in T&T as a Christian missionary, working to improve religious music. “I also learned that Mateo Torres graduated with highest honours from the Superior Institute of Art, Havana, and was subsequently the Head of Guitar at the Conservatory in Las Tunas, Cuba, where he founded both philharmonic and guitar orchestras which won national acclaim,” said Cooper.

“Apart from his work as a classical guitarist, he has written and produced more than 15 CDs of inspirational praise and worship music, including songs which were hits in the Latin American diaspora in Ecuador, Miami and Canada. When I heard his music, I thought it was a pity to have someone of his musical experience, training and ability in T&T and not to expose him to the public.”

The three local artistes were chosen for their skill with their particular instruments. Cooper said: “Keisha is an excellent violinist whose skill is matched by her sensitivity as a performer. Mateo Torres selected her as his partner for the pieces because of her innate understanding of the particular pieces. Rellon is one of the most versatile trumpeters on the local stage.

“We wanted an instrument that could wake the audience up a bit, but we also needed a trumpeter who was sensitive and that was Rellon Brown. Rellon has also been to Cuba and feels a keen affinity for the country and its people so we thought he was a good fit for this collaboration.

Clarinetist Shurvone Braithwaite is a promising young musician whom I wanted to include in order to showcase his ability and he will be part of the second night of performance.”

Cooper said he and Mateo Torres wanted to put on a small show that required an audience to listen attentively and with intimacy. He said: “This concert helps to encourage an appetite for the classical guitar.

T&T does have a discerning musical audience that will appreciate the finesse and delicacy of guitar music as well as the skill required to perform it.

“We have had a Classical Guitar Society, the president of which was the late Dr Morgan Job. While the music may be considered ‘classical’, since it arises from Latin America, it easily mixes with and straddles the world of Cuban trova and son, both of which are folk styles in Cuba. There is also some impressionistic music. The Venezuelan music is vals criollo, or creole waltz, which in Trinidad we traditionally call the castellan. The Argentinian music is modern and lyrical but we will also present a popular tango.”

Cooper said a main reason for presenting this concert was wanting to honour the guitar for its part in T&T’s history. “It was perhaps the most important instrument to Trinidad’s pre-1930 history.

It was the instrument of our calypsos; it was essential to our parang; almost all of our folk songs would have featured the guitar.

It is truly an instrument of the people and it deserves to be heard more and to be heard played well. By contrast to Latin America, where the guitar tradition has been preserved, Trinidad seems to have forgotten the noble guitar.

To me, this concert elevates the guitar to its rightful place and remind us Trinidadians of another facet of ourselves.”

Tickets for next Sunday’s show cost $150 and can be purchased at Paperbased Bookshop, The Normandie Hotel, and, at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, with discounts for TTARP members and UTT students.

Seating is limited but reservations can be made by calling 297-3820.


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