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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Spanish Classical Guitarists Kick Off Frost Music Live!

Frost students, Angela Hernandez and Patricia Hernandez.
By Maritza Cosano

Frost students, Angela Hernandez and Patricia Hernandez.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Spanish Classical Guitarists Kick Off Frost Music Live!

By Maritza Cosano
Hispanic and Spanish classical guitarists banded together at the VI International Guitar Festival at UM’s Victor E. Clarke Recital Hall and Maurice Gusman Concert Hall on September 17-18. This event opened Frost Music Live! Signature Series, University of Miami’s main source of music entertainment. The program is a connective power of international music in Miami, bringing world-class music to our community with performances by renowned and award-winning Frost School of Music faculty, alumni, and guest artists, performing with our brilliant young artists.

There’s a deep history in classical guitar. So, how far would you have to go to gather an international list and address different styles, from Baroque-influenced to Spanish to contemporary? At the top of that list, you could start with Andrés Segovia, the Spanish musician acclaimed as the “foremost guitarist of his time,” who helped establish the guitar as a concert instrument in the 20th century and performed concerts past the age of 90. But you don’t have to go back that far to experience the sounds of guitarists renowned for their playing, as well as their interpretation and promotion of the modern classical guitar repertoire.   

Coming to Miami’s stages this fall are some of the most unique, creative, and popular modern classic guitar players. And playing co-hosts are Frost School of Music and the Florida Guitar Foundation.

“We've dedicated a decade to the promotion of classical guitar,” says Professor Rafael Padron, who directs the Classic Guitar Program at Frost. The program started 40 years ago and today, it’s known as the second oldest continuing guitar program in the US.

Padron is also the co-founder of the Florida Guitar Foundation. Ten years ago, he banded with University of Miami alum, lecturer, and Henry Mancini Fellow, Federico Musgrove Stetson, to pinpoint the world’s most vital classic guitar players. Since then, they’ve invited a great number of international guitarists to play in Miami in a series of concerts. This year, recognizing their love of their respective countries—Padron is Cuban, Musgrove Stetson is Argentinian—and their passion for hosting concerts, the dynamic duo put together guitar repertoire from the Altiplano to the streets of La Havana to open the Frost Music Live! Signature Concert Series

The Saturday concert, which was part of the VI International Guitar Festival, featured the music of Máximo Diego Pujol, Eduardo Martín, Ástor Piazzolla, Leo Brouwer, among others.   

Frost DMA candidate González Caballero is one of the most prominent young guitarists in the world and “female voices of the Spanish guitar.” Featured in the Spanish program on Sunday night, she is a laureate of multiple prestigious international guitar competitions, receiving First Prize at the XIII Alhambra International Guitar Competition in Valencia, Spain, where she was the youngest guitarists to receive first prize. 

Grisha Goryachev, a Russian flamenco guitar player, also played on Sunday night. “We brought Grisha for the first time in 2014, and the concert hall was totally packed, so we invited him back in 2018, and again, he packed the house,” said Musgrove Stetson, thrilled that Goryachev was back. The concert between González Caballero and Goryachev was quite special, showing the character of traditional Spanish music and then closing with flamenco. 

The two-day festival hosted a series of workshops, a guitar exhibition by Miami luthier Bill Glez, and a guitar competition. Consisting of two divisions—the undergrad on Saturday and the open division final on Sunday—the competition was streamed live on the Frost School of Music website. The eight finalists from the USA, Thailand, Poland, and Portugal competed for more than $10,000 in cash prizes. The guitarist Francisco Luis from Portugal was awarded the first prize in the open division and American guitarist David Manzanares won the undergrad division.

It's no surprise that the Saturday concert was sold out, packing up the house! The classical guitar is a multi-cultural instrument. If you look closely at all the countries represented in these concerts alone, you'll find that people are used to the guitar’s melodious sound. No matter what style or type of music—tango, folklore, flamenco, or Cuban Trova’s vocal and guitar unique sound—we’re drawn to it. It’s who we are or what identifies us in a way. 

Because of that and many other reasons, the guitar experience is perhaps like no other. It’s a sound that’s familiar, and those who have an affinity with the instrument, whether they know it or not, know how to perceive it. The rhythm brings them back to their childhood memories or those from different places and cultures. And in part, that’s what they experienced at these concerts this past weekend.

For more details on Frost Music Live! Signature Series’ concert list, visit our Frost Events page.