I keep telling my teenager to take warning from his mother’s youthful lack of foresight and keep a scrapbook of all the ticket stubs and programs from every concert and play that he attends. That way, he won’t ever find himself embarrassed the way I am today, having to admit that I’m no longer sure whether or not I ever actually heard the 20th century’s premier classical guitarist in person: the late Andrés Segovia.
I certainly did attend a lot of classical and Spanish guitar concerts in my musically omnivorous youth, and I definitely did get to see some of the greats. There’s not much so riveting to the ear as the sound of a big dreadnought acoustic guitar, played with consummate technical skill and artistic passion. So I’m looking forward with enthusiasm to the January 20 visit to the Bardavon 1869 Opera House of one of the biggest names in flamenco guitar: the legendary Paco Peña.
Now 70 years old, Peña was born in the Spanish guitar heartland of Andalucía and has been on the road performing since he was 12. Though he has specialized from an early age in the intensely rhythmic flamenco (“flaming”) style that was brought to the Iberian Peninsula centuries ago by the nomadic Gítanos or Gypsy/Rom people, Peña has also had a home in London since the 1960s and played alongside guitarists as diverse as John Williams and Jimi Hendrix. Founder of the annual Córdoba Guitar Festival and the world’s first university-level flamenco guitar course, at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music, he has won a slew of awards, including a national cultural medal from King Juan Carlos. You don’t want to miss this guy.
Flamenco guitarists typically don’t perform in a vacuum; their art is by design that of the accompanist to Spain’s indigenous dance form. Since 1970, Peña has headed an ensemble called the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company, taking the artform into the realm of musical theatre with regular seasons in London (Royal Festival Hall, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Barbican) and festival appearances in Edinburgh, Adelaide, Amsterdam, Athens, Israel, Istanbul, Singapore and Hong Kong. His full company of guitarists, singers and dancers will present a program called “Flamenco Vivo” at the Bardavon on Sunday, January 20, beginning at 7 p.m. Expect both spectacular full-throttle dance numbers and virtuosic solos from the master himself.
Tickets for the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company go for $40 general admission and $35 for Bardavon members. They can be obtained at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; at the Ulster Performing Arts Center box office at 601 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; via TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com; or on the Bardavon website at www.bardavon.org.
“Flamenco Vivo,” Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company, Sunday, January 20, 7 p.m., $40/35, Bardavon, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072, www.bardavon.org.