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Rafael Aguirre on stage in Palma de Mallorca last December. SUR
From the Costa del Sol to the roll of honour of the Royal Academy of Music

From the Costa del Sol to the roll of honour of the Royal Academy of Music

Malaga-born star guitarist Rafael Aguirre received the news from his alma mater as he was preparing for a US tour which will take him to Carnegie Hall for the third time

REGINA SOTORRÍO

MALAGA.

Friday, 17 February 2023, 14:40

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"Last year was the best in my career but this one is proving interesting," says Rafael Aguirre at the other end of the phone. He is speaking from his home in Madrid, but he won't be there for long. He will be resuming his international agenda soon, the one which has made him the ambassador of Spanish guitar in 40 countries of the world.

His next stop is the USA, where he will be playing at Carnegie Hall for the third time, but before that he will be recording a concert at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona for China Central Television, one of the media giants of Asia. And after that, he will be preparing for a return visit to Japan.

He is doing all this with a new title on his CV, that of honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, one of the most prestigious musical institutions in the world and his alma mater more than a decade ago.

"It's very gratifying, especially as the guitar is not an instrument which is given priority in the conservatories," Aguirre says. He sees the title as an endorsement of the work he has done.

The Royal Academy of Music, through whose doors stars such Annie Lennox and Elton John have also passed, is distinguishing him for his contribution to music as an outstanding former student. And his work is not only recognised in London.

Massive audience

Chinese public broadcaster China Central Television, with an audience unmatched anywhere in the world, sought him out to record a concert to celebrate the diplomatic relations between China and Spain. It will be at the Palau de la Música Catalana in March, with a Chinese violinist and a Spanish orchestra. Rafael Aguirre will be performing a solo from Tárrega and the famous Romance Anónimo, and also some popular Chinese songs arranged for classical guitar. This is a "very exotic" proposal which could open the door of the Asian giant to him, as he has never played in China. He has performed in South Korea and Japan, though, to great acclaim just before the pandemic, and where he hopes to return soon. If all goes well, in October he will be playing for the fourth time in the land of the rising sun.

But between these different Asian adventures, Rafael Aguirre is facing one of his most keenly-awaited tours which will take him once again to the USA and the iconic Carnegie Hall.

This will be his third concert there, but his first time in the programme for the official season. Nor will he be alone. The recital in New York on 4 April is part of a tour with Egyptian singer Fatma Said, an internationally famous soprano. Together, in a "colourful" fusion of two cultures joined by the Mediterranean, they will also perform in Boston and in Tucson.

From there, Aguirre will travel to Miami to perform El Concierto de Aranjuez, a star piece in his repertoire, with the Symphony of the Americas. He likes to combine formats: accompanying a singer, playing with an orchestra or performing solo on stage. "Because, at the end of the day, I like music more than playing music. I enjoy listening to others playing," he says. And that versatility is one of the keys to his success, which last year alone enabled him to play 45 concerts around the world.

Malaga performances

And in Malaga, too. This season he has confirmed two dates. One is at the Nerja Cave Festival, with an emotional tribute to Manuel del Campo led by the Malaga Concert Orchestra. That will be on 10 August, with other local artists such as Paula Coronas (piano), Luis Pacetti (tenor), Lourdes Leiva (soprano) and Susana Lupiáñez 'La Lupi' (dancer).

Three months later, on 16 and 17 November, he will make his debut in the official season of the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra at the Cervantes Theatre. They will be playing Rodrigo's Fantasía para un Gentil hombre and Lorenzo Palomo's Nocturno de Córdoba. This will give him the chance to spend time in the family home in Mijas, which is where his father, who has been a luthier for some years, made the guitar he now plays. It is the perfect way of always carrying a piece of home with him wherever he goes.

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