Why Spanish musicians are drawn to musical life in London

Maria CamahortFri 29th May 2015
Maria Camahort

The Maria Camahort Quintet are part of a thriving scene for Spanish classical music in the capital

My quintet’s new album 'Iberian Colours' is a journey through the relationship between Spanish classical repertoire and influences from Iberia’s traditional music. Traditional music in Spain has long been an important source of inspiration for many Spanish composers: Falla, Mompou, Granados, Toldrà, to name a few. More intensely since the end of the 19th century – and especially through the 20th as a consequence of nationalism – Spanish composers have been inspired by the lyrics, melodies, rhythms and harmonies of traditional music. The guitar, as the predominant instrument of Spanish folk heritage, was one of their main sources of inspiration. Together with working on the repertoire of these particular composers, the quintet is also exploring its own approach Catalan traditional music, flamenco and contemporary music – always with the aim to create honest and beautiful performances, bringing to the audience the musicality, the flavour and the stories that are held in Spanish musical art. 

All members of the quintet are Spanish but all have been immersed in London's music scene for more than five years, and they bring an authenticity to the album that makes it both fresh and exciting. Many Spanish people see London as a very exciting city, being one of the top destinations for studying abroad. This, together with London’s incredible music tradition and multicultural heritage, means that many Spanish musicians decide to spend at least a few years in this city. 

The idea of this project came from one of my last concerts as a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which was actually based on Spanish classical repertoire and the influence of traditional music. I’ve always considered the guitar an instrument with a strong popular tradition, and the idea of creating an ensemble in which the timbres of classical and popular traditions would blend became very appealing to me. 

The musicians in the quintet are all committed to the idea of creating an ensemble focusing in Spanish repertoire without reservation, and we have been working together now for more than three years, giving our time, ideas, commitment and enthusiasm towards a project we really enjoy, as it is about sharing with the audience in a very original way music that is part of our cultural heritage. Maybe because of coming from different musical backgrounds, when working together we have deep respect for each others’ musicianship. This respect gives us an incredible freedom whilst playing, which allows us to create at each concert a completely different performance, fresh every time. 

The Maria Camahort Quintet's album 'Iberian Colours' will be launched with a concert on June 16 in London. For tickets and information visit: mariacamahort.com.

Maria Camahort

Maria Camahort is an award-winning guitarist in demand internationally, and the recipient of the Guildhall Artist Fellowship 2010-12. Maria specialises in chamber music and founded The Maria Camahort Chamber Music Quartet in 2011 to increase possibilities for the guitar in chamber music.

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