Flamenco Festival NYC 2023: A Lineup Filled with Unrepeatable Moments Inspired by the Memory of Paco de Lucía
In its 2024 edition, Flamenco Festival puts the guitar in the spotlight as a deeply rooted instrument in flamenco. This recognition is driven by the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Vicente Espinel, a musician, poet, and writer from Malaga, who is credited with perfecting the guitar by adding the fifth string, henceforth referred to as the “Spanish guitar.” The creation, dissemination, and popularization of this instrument are fundamental symbols of flamenco art, and its sound is inseparable from the genre.
Paco de Lucía stands as an emblem of the guitar and flamenco. Four centuries of guitar history connect Espinel’s contribution to the instrument with the one through which Paco de Lucía popularized flamenco globally, simultaneously becoming a great innovator in playing, engaging with other styles without losing the classical essence. Thus, Flamenco Festival pays a unique tribute to his musical genius that extends beyond the stage, encompassing various aspects like playing, with the participation of guitarists from different generations and styles, as well as dance, reflection, and dialogue about his figure in an international symposium featuring acclaimed musicians and prestigious academics.
Renowned figures in contemporary guitar playing, spanning from the most classical styles (Tomatito, Rafael Riqueni, or Alejandro Hurtado) to the most experimental or innovative (Raúl Cantizano or Rycardo Moreno), including prominent female names (Antonia Jiménez or Marta Robles of Las Migas), and emerging talents (David de Arahal, Diego del Morao, José del Tomate, or Antonio Rey, a disciple of Paco de Lucía), will converge in New York to carry on the master’s legacy by reinterpreting some of his iconic pieces like Río de la Miel, Callejón del muro, Antonia, Reflejo de Luna, El Vito, Río Ancho, Canción de Amor, Solo Quiero Caminar, Gitanos Andaluces, or Entre dos Aguas. They will collectively showcase the direction his school has taken, not just in playing but also in dance.
Dance will also celebrate the legacy of Paco de Lucía and the Spanish guitar, with performances by the Ballet Nacional de España (National Ballet of Spain) closing their shows with a dedicated tribute to the guitarist. The Flamenco Gala, curated by Flamenco Festival, featuring Concha Jareño and choreographer Manuel Liñán, will delve into the heritage of Paco de Lucía, offering diverse perspectives, generations, and artistic disciplines. Closing the circle is Olga Pericet, whose show pays homage to the renowned guitar by luthier Antonio de Torres, the prototype for the modern flamenco guitar, providing insight into the instrument’s construction process.
This emphasis on the Spanish guitar is evident in the festival’s inclusion of Tomatito, a global icon in the genre, who will kick off the festival on March 1 at the iconic Town Hall in New York, the same stage where maestro Sabicas presented the first flamenco guitar recital in 1959. Tomatito will also perform on March 2 at Berklee Performance Center in Boston, concluding on March 7 at Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.
Rafael Riqueni, the virtuoso guitarist from Seville, will also be part of the festival, showcasing his unique skill in his show ‘Nerja’ at Elebash Recital Hall on March 7. Influenced initially by Niño Ricardo, Riqueni’s career took a definitive turn upon discovering Paco de Lucía’s iconic album Fuente y Caudal, featuring the famous Entre dos Aguas, inspiring him to fully commit to being a guitarist.
Riqueni will also close the symposium, paying homage to Paco de Lucía, held at the Graduate Center of the University of New York.
The more classical and solemn side of guitar playing will be represented by young talent Alejandro Hurtado at Joe’s Pub in The Public Theater. On March 10, Grammy Latino winners for Best Flamenco Album 2022, Las Migas, will perform at the same venue in the Big Apple after a prior stop at the Instituto Cervantes in Chicago on March 6. On March 17, thanks to the FlamencoEñe internationalization program promoted by the SGAE Foundation, audiences will experience the avant-garde side with Raúl Cantizano and his show ‘Zona Acordonada,’ joined by Los Voluble, previously performing in Chicago courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes.
The fusion of flamenco and jazz, a concept championed by Paco de Lucía, will materialize with the extraordinary Rycardo Moreno joining jazz guitarist Yotam Silverstein on March 13 at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which also hosted the artistic residency of this collaboration with the support of Celia Flores. Likewise, flamenco flutist Sergio de Lope will team up with the 80 musicians of the Manhattan Wind Ensemble, presenting ‘Sin Límites’ at The Centennial Memorial Temple on March 16, marking the penultimate day of Flamenco Festival in New York.
The role of women in the evolution of guitar playing is becoming increasingly significant. As part of the International Women’s Day celebration on March 8, cantaora Inma la Carbonera and guitarist Antonia Jiménez will present the show ‘A Gaya,’ their first joint proposal, at the former residence of the Spanish ambassador in Washington DC. The performance will be showcased the following day at Roulette in New York and on March 10 at the Instituto Cervantes in Chicago. The female presence on the strings, a rare occurrence in the current panorama, is also highlighted in Las Migas, blending traditional flamenco and classical music elements, emphasizing inspiration from modernist Barcelona, inviting audiences to travel through time and places with their creations.
The connection between dance and playing will be evident in the presentation by Madrid-born dancer Concha Jareño at the Instituto Cervantes on March 8 with ‘Encuentros íntimos’. The guitar also plays a fundamental role in ‘La Leona’, a work where dancer Olga Pericet seeks a dialogue between her animalistic movement and Antonio de Torres’ instrument. This unique performance, honoring Paco de Lucía’s music through Pericet’s dance, will take place on March 15 at the legendary New York City Center, a Moorish-style theater.
On the following days, March 16 and 17, at the colossal New York City Center, the traditional Flamenco Gala will take center stage. Directed by the acclaimed Manuel Liñán and celebrating Paco de Lucía, the gala will feature fresh talent in flamenco dance such as Alfonso Losa, Paula Comitre, El Yiyo, and Sandra Carrasco, making their debut in New York, alongside Liñán. This gala, incorporating unique elements to remember the music legend that is Algeciras’ tocaor, will kick off on March 10 at the Berklee Performance Center Boston and on March 14 at the Knight Concert Hall of the Arsht Center in Miami.
The most important platform for flamenco worldwide
Throughout its 20 years of history, Flamenco Festival has taken over almost the entire world, having presence in 101 cities, presenting 129 companies, 1.225 shows and an audience of over 1,600.000 people.
The largest flamenco platform in the international scene
Operating since 1996, Flamenco Festival is the main international flamenco promoter in the world. Its mission is to promote and spread the richness and variety of flamenco art, from traditional flamenco to the most avant-garde proposals.