“The guitar isn’t to blame for all the ignorance about it”

Daniel Casares is playing with the OFM in Malaga, Mijas and Estepona in May.
Daniel Casares is playing with the OFM in Malaga, Mijas and Estepona in May. / Niccolo Guasti
  • Daniel Casares, a guitarist from Malaga who is touring the province with the OFM and the ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ in May, says the authorities should do more to promote guitar music

He says it is only his personal feeling, but Daniel Casares believes that the Rodrigo composed the Concierto de Aranjuez just so he could play flamenco. “It is the classical piece which is closest to us,” says this local guitarist. When Daniel starts to play the first movement a ‘bulería’ comes into his mind and he speeds up the rhythm. And the second movement could well be a ‘minera’ or ‘taranta’ “because of its freer interpretation”, he explains.

He feels more comfortable like this, thinking from a flamenco point of view: “Although I don’t change a single note and I stick to Rodrigo’s score, I play it with a flamenco technique, because that’s what I am.” And that is what he will be doing in three concerts in Malaga city, Estepona and Mijas with the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra (OFM), conducted by Arturo Díez Boscovich. These are part of a tour, and will include the second part of La Luna de Alejandra, composed by Daniel himself and arranged by José Miguel Évora.

The Concierto de Aranjuez ‘works’ wherever it is performed. Proof of this is that the recitals in Malaga and Estepona are almost sold out, with a month still to go. However, that is not normal. “It’s really difficult to fill a theatre with a guitar concert,” he admits, but he doesn’t blame the public for that. “They go to what they know, just like I do,” says Daniel, “so the responsibility lies with the people who are in charge of culture in our country. The guitar isn’t to blame for the amount of ignorance there is about it.”

He is sad that his instrument does not hold the prestige “it deserves” here. “In Japan, German or New York, Spain is represented by a guitar, not bagpipes or a piano or a flute,” he points out. Even President Obama wanted to see him play when he was due to visit Seville. Nevertheless, here “people don’t come to guitar concerts because they are not played on the radio or TV, and there are no financial incentives to promote our culture among the public.”

In the meantime, he is involved in different projects, many of them outside Spain. He has just performed in Portugal with Dulce Pontes, with whom he did a tour. On 1 July he will perform with her again at the Cervantes Theatre in Malaga, and then Latin America awaits him with a month-long tour.

‘Palo Santo’

When he performs alone with the guitar, he allows himself “the luxury of doing what I like”, mixing music from the past and present. His latest work, after his album Picassares, which paid tribute to Picasso, is called Palo Santo. He presented it for the first time on 3 April at the Maestranza in Seville, with more than 200 musicians on stage including the Triana Symphony Orchestra and the Tres Caídas de Triana cornet and drum band. Singer Rocío Márquez and dancer La Lupi were guest artists.

Palo Santo is the result of the admiration Daniel Casares has for the figure of Jesus, and it recreates moments of his life through flamenco music. It may be that it “is more in context” during Easter week, but he insists that it is timeless and universal.

“Everyone at some time in their life has celebrated a birth, fallen in love, experienced serious problems and been reborn in some way,” he says. Palo Santo is the name of the wood used to built guitars and that is the way in which this story is told.

There has not been an immediate response to Palo Santo in terms of requests for international concerts, but Daniel Casares isn’t bothered. “Malaga has to be next,” he says.