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Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas makes seven U.S. orchestral debuts in 2014-15

Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas – whose international competition wins include the Andrés Segovia Award and Gold Medal at the inaugural Parkening International Guitar Competition – steps up his American presence this season, making debuts with no fewer than seven U.S. orchestras. For his first appearances with ensembles including the Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Oregon Symphonies, the guitarist plays Rodrigo’s soulful Concierto de Aranjuez, a signature work that also serves as the vehicle for his upcoming collaborations with Spain’s National Radio & Television and its National Youth Orchestra, and is featured on his forthcoming recording with the National Orchestra of Spain. In recital, meanwhile, Villegas – an “exceptional and gifted performer” (Classical Guitar magazine) – appears at Carnegie Hall, the New York City Classical Guitar Society, the Guitar Foundation of America Convention, Puerto Rico’s Festival Casals, and Italy’s Merano Festival, as well as in duet recitals with violinist Augustin Hadelich at Indiana’s Linton Music Series and Germany’s Rheingau Music Festival.

The guitarist’s account of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Las Vegas Philharmonic was rapturously received last spring. “An astonishing talent took the stage,” reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which concluded:

Words do not do justice to the musicianship, artistry, and technical mastery Villegas brought to the Smith Center on Saturday. The audience was spellbound, and when the final chord was played it erupted into enthusiastic applause.

Now Villegas performs the concerto for his six of his seven upcoming orchestral debuts, the first of which is with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the leadership of Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber (Oct 10–12).

“The Concierto de Aranjuez is rooted in the culture and music of my country, Spain. It is an extension of who I am as a person and as a musician. I am very excited to play this concerto, one of the most iconic Spanish pieces, with so many wonderful American orchestras, beginning with the Pittsburgh Symphony, one of the country’s – indeed the world’s – top ensembles. The Concierto de Aranjuez allows me to invite the audience to participate in the passion, beauty and fire of Spain. I fell in love with America many years ago, and living in New York City for almost 12 years has sealed a bond with the country that I’m sure will only grow throughout my career,” comments the guitarist.

Villegas reprises the Concierto de Aranjuez for his first appearances with the Oregon Symphony and music director Carlos Kalmar (Oct 25–27), the Fort Worth Symphony and music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Feb 13–15), the San Antonio Symphony under Pedro Halffter (April 10–12), the Binghamton Philharmonic under José-Luis Novo (April 18), and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic under Josep Caballé Domenech, where Villegas pairs Rodrigo’s masterpiece with another Spanish favorite: Palomo’s Nocturnos de Andalucía (Jan 24 & 25). For his seventh U.S. orchestral debut, with Texas’s Amarillo Symphony and Jacomo Rafael Bairos (Oct 17 & 18), the guitarist turns instead to Fantasía para un gentilhombre, another of the three Rodrigo classics for guitar and orchestra that he is recording for future CD release with the National Orchestra of Spain and Juanjo Mena.

The first guitarist to win El Ojo Crítico, Spain’s top classical music honor, Villegas first recorded the Concierto de Aranjuez twelve years ago, with his homeland’s National Radio & Television Orchestra (RTVE). Now he looks forward to reuniting with the orchestra to give two performances of Rodrigo’s concerto with Carlos Kalmar on the podium in Madrid (April 23 & 24), as well as taking the work on a three-city tour of Spain with the National Youth Orchestra of Spain under José Ramón Encinar (Jan 10–13).

It was in solo recital that Villegas prompted the San Francisco Classical Voice to observe:

“He stirred an enthusiastic audience with passionate romantic interpretations, bravura technique, and an unusually wide dynamic range. The subtlety, passion, technical command, and dramatic flair that Villegas displayed made an evening to be remembered.”

In the coming season the charismatic guitarist also enjoys an increased U.S. presence in recital, with solo performances at the 13th annual Classical Recording Foundation Awards at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (Nov 24), the New York City Classical Guitar Society (June 5), the Little Orchestra Society of New York (Oct 6), and the annual Guitar Foundation of America Convention in Oklahoma (June 23–28). Further afield, he presents a program of Villa-Lobos, Rodrigo, De Falla, Albéniz, Gerhard, Barrios Mangoré, and Domeniconi at the Merano Festival in Italy (Sep 20) and gives a pair of solo recitals at the Festival Casals in San Juan and St. John (March 11 & 14).

Villegas also takes part in “Strings of Passion” at the Linton Music Series in Indiana (Nov 30), playing solo works by Rodrigo and Roland Dyens and rejoining German violinist Augustin Hadelich for Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango, as heard on their Avie Records collaboration – named a “must-hear album” (NPR) – and at their recent Kennedy Center debut, when “guitar and violin proved to be a wonderful pairing…, Villegas’s warm, easy sound complementing Hadelich’s timbre” (Washington Post).

As Cultural Ambassador to the Vivanco Foundation and its Museum of Wine Culture in Rioja, his native city, Villegas conducts an education program on April 25. He also continues to preside over the Music Without Borders Legacy, which he founded in 2007 to bring music and art to at-risk children and youth; the foundation has succeeded in bringing classical music to more than 15,000 children to date, and currently funds six different music programs in schools in Tijuana, Mexico.

Details of Pablo Villegas’s 2014-15 engagements are provided below. More information is available at his web site, which will be relaunched later this season with new designs by web designer Fernando Hernáez.


Pablo Villegas: 2014-15 engagements


Sep 20

Merano, Italy

Merano Festival 

Solo recital: Villa-Lobos: Preludes 1 & 3; Rodrigo: Invocation and Dance; De Falla: Homenaje pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy; Albéniz: Asturias Op. 47; Gerhard: Fantasia for guitar; Barrios Mangoré: Danza Paraguaya No. 1, Un sueño en la Floresta; Domeniconi: Koyunbaba


Oct 6

New York, NY

Little Orchestra Society of New York

Fundraising Gala

Solo recital


Oct 10, 11 & 12 

Pittsburgh, PA. USA 

Heinz Hall

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Omer Meir Wellber (debut)

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


Oct 17 & 18 

Amarillo, TX 

Amarillo Symphony Orchestra / Jacomo Rafael Bairos (debut)

Rodrigo: Fantasía para un gentilhombre 


Oct 25, 26 & 27

Portland, OR

Oregon Symphony / Carlos Kalmar (debut)

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez 


Nov 24

New York City, NY

Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall)

Classical Recording Foundation Awards


Nov 30 

Linton, IN

Linton Music Series 

Duo recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin 

Dyens: Tango en Skaï for solo guitar

Rodrigo: Invocación y danza for solo guitar

Piazzolla: Histoire du Tango for violin and guitar


Dec 8,9 & 10

La Rioja, Spain

Conservatorio de La Rioja



Dec 11

La Rioja, Spain


Solo recital


Jan 10 & 11

Zaragoza, Spain 

National Youth Orchestra of Spain / José Ramón Encinar

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


Jan 12

Madrid, Spain 

National Auditorium 

National Youth Orchestra of Spain / José Ramón Encinar

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


Jan 13

Málaga, Spain 

National Youth Orchestra of Spain / José Ramón Encinar

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


Jan 24 & 25

Colorado Springs, CO 

Colorado Springs Philharmonic / Josep Caballé Domenech (debut)

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez 

Palomo: Nocturnos de Andalucía


Feb 13, 14 & 15

Fort Worth, TX 

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra / Miguel Harth-Bedoya (debut)

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez 


March 11

San Juan, PR

Festival Casals 

Solo recital


March 14

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands 

Festival Casals 

Solo recital


April 10, 11 & 12 

San Antonio, TX

San Antonio Symphony / Pedro Halffter (debut)

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez 


April 18

Binghamton, NY

Binghamton Philharmonic / José-Luis Novo (debut)

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


April 23 & 24

Madrid, Spain 

Teatro Monumental

National Radio & Television Orchestra (RTVE) / Carlos Kalmar 

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


April 25 (TBC)

La Rioja, Spain

Vivanco Winery and Museum 

Education Program 


June 5

New York, NY

New York City Classical Guitar Society 

Solo recital


June 23–28

Oklahoma City, OK

Guitar Foundation of America Convention

Solo recital


Aug 28 & 29

Rheingau, Germany

Rheingau Music Festival

Duo recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin


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© 21C Media Group, September 2014

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