The Spaniard Juan Miguel Cañizares is one of the leading figures on the flamenco guitar scene worldwide. Critically acclaimed for his dazzling performances, his style is a rare combination of brilliance and sensitivity, as he showed last week on the Romanian Athenaeum stage. BR attended the show and talked to Cañizares about the art of understanding flamenco music.
By Oana Vasiliu
How did you start playing the guitar?
My uncle won a guitar in a lottery and gave it to my father, who took some guitar classes, but unfortunately wasn’t very keen on handling it. On one occasion, my older brother was at my father’s guitar class, so he took it and started playing. The teacher was very impressed by my brother’s guitar-playing ability, so this is how this instrument entered my family. I was almost six when I started playing it, encouraged by my brother.
What is flamenco music for you? And for the public worldwide?
Flamenco music is definitely a language which I use to express my emotions and feelings, but I also manage to compose my own music through it in order to get to the listener’s sensitivity, as well as my own. When it comes to the international public, flamenco is a passionate music, which does not have to be “understood”; the public need only feel it and experience the sounds.
What are the typical ingredients of a classical flamenco concert?
I don’t think there is a special or a conventional formula for a flamenco concert, neither for the players, nor for the dancers. We actually come up with an interpretation of our own feelings based on the moment of the show, with no rules or procedure.
Are production houses interested in promoting flamenco music?
It depends a lot on the management of the production house, as well as the marketing and advertising of the artist that records the album. In the end, it is a matter of money.
What do you think about the fact that there are more flamenco schools in Japan than in Spain?
To tell the truth, I find it very surprising, but also admirable – if there are Japanese who have made a lifestyle of flamenco, despite having a great culture of their own, this says to me that flamenco is definitely a universal language.
What can you tell me about the album you have been promoting in Romania, Cuerdas del alma?
The disc is my fifth album and represents my contribution to today’s flamenco guitar world. The title means that we, the people, have strings in our soul, and we also have experiences and intentions. I believe that the soul is similar to a musical instrument, the guitar in this case. How your soul sounds depends on how it’s tuned. The album consists of several songs that conduct you through different moods: joy, sadness, excitement, happiness. When it comes to intentions, they are like your wishes and depend very much on your ability to transform them into reality. This is a short summary of the album I presented on stage at the Romanian Athenaeum.