Classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco will present a mixture of contemporary and traditional guitar pieces, mixing the old classics of Bach with the newer works of Corea and Rodrigo. Rodrigo was a Spanish guitar composer, and the 100th anniversary of his birth is celebrated this year.
Barrueco received his training at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, after his family immigrated to the United States. “The guitar was spreading like a disease in my family, I”m the one who was mesmerized by it all,” Barrueco said of his beginnings. His sisters were the ones who began playing the guitar, which was a very popular instrument to play in Cuba during his childhood. His early playing was that of Latin American pop music. A teacher, however, recognized his unusual talent and recommended he began to be trained in the classical style.
Barrueco finds a guitar recital often like having a meal, with many different things to choose from. Bach, being the major composer, is always included in his recitals. “It”s [Bach] modern, it offers a contrast which is what I look for. The guitar begs for your attention,” he said. Despite the fact that Bach was one of the first composers for the guitar, he wrote music for the lute with the intention of it being used for the guitar, which had not been invented yet. Barrueco feels that Bach might be the most modern composer. “It opens more harmonically and guitaristically,” he said.
The program ends with Brazilian and Spanish guitar styles. Spanish is a style, which any guitar performance must have in it. Ending with these pieces allows Barrueco to build the intensity level of his concert.
Barrueco is currently working in a residency program in San Francisco. He plays at least one main stage concert every year. His work also includes bringing music to schools and developing audiences. Most recently he has performed with the Berkeley Symphony under the baton of Kent Nagano.
In May, Barrueco will release a recording of duos with different guitarists: Al Di Meola, a jazz guitarist, Steve Morse and Andy Summers of the Police. These duos allow him to “misbehave in a way.” All the guitarists have to meet on a common ground and move outside of their style boundaries.
Barrueco does not admire just one player, though he does find that all classical guitar players admire Andres Segovia, who is known for his work with the Sor studies. “I admire different aspects of different players. I know classical best. I love all types of music,” he said.