25 de Agosto de 2009
The Agustin Barrios Mangoré
75th Anniversary Guitar Festival and Exhibition
Commemorating Barrios’ Royal Conservatory performance in Brussels, Belgium (1934-2009)
Gendai Guitar’s readership will be interested to know that a major event in the classical guitar world will take place in Brussels, Belgium, starting October 17th, 2009. This date marks the commencement of what is perhaps the most historically significant “Guitar Festival and Exhibition” ever organized around the enigmatic figure of Paraguayan guitar genius, Agustin Barrios Mangoré.
The Festival, which runs until November 29, was conceived by musicologist Jan de Kloe (Netherlands) and luthier Federico Sheppard (USA) in collaboration with the Centro de Proyectos Barrios Mangoré in Paraguay. The event commemorates the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Agustin Barrios in Brussels in November 1934 and his historic performance at the Royal Conservatory on November 7. The Festival’s event venues include two important landmark buildings located in the heart of the city’s center –the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) and Flagey, both of which are dedicated to promoting the arts and culture at the highest levels. The MIM is a federal museum and forms part of the Royal Museum of Art and History.
Behind the scenes supporting the event are Wim Verhulst, director of the MIM, and Tarquin Billiet, director of programming at Flagey, as well as Belgian businessman and cultural philanthropist Piet Van Waeyenberge, who has been closely involved with the restoration of the former National Institute for Radio Broadcasting, today known as Flagey.
The Festival opens with a performance by Paraguayan guitarist and composer Felipe Sosa (1945) in the MIM concert hall. Sosa stands out as key representative for his generation of Paraguayan guitarists, following in the line of Gustavo Sosa Escalada (1877-1943), Agustin Barrios (1885-1944), and Sila Godoy (1919). Sosa is also credited with recording the first ever tribute-to-Barrios LP, with RCA Victor in Sao Paulo, in 1965, 12 years ahead of the John Williams, all- Barrios LP recorded by CBS Records in 1977. Notable as well is that Felipe Sosa served as guitar instructors to Paraguayan guitarists Berta Rojas and Luz Maria Bobadilla during their formative years. Sosa will perform a program consisting of Barrios pieces as well as original works.
Also, from October 17 to November 29, the MIM will have on display a unique and extremely rare photography exhibit consisting of 42 images of Agustin Barrios, provided by the Centro de Proyectos Barrios Mangoré. These images come from the personal collection of the co-author of the book El Inalcanzable: Agustin Barrios Mangoré (2007), Carlos Salcedo Centurion. Several of these images have appeared in the issues of Gendai 2009.
On November 6, performances resume and include names such as Eliot Fisk (USA), Antigoni Goni (Greece), Rene Izquierdo (Cuba), Jerome Mouffe (Belgium), Manuel Obregon (piano, Costa Rica), Berta Rojas (Paraguay), Dr. Jorge Sanabria (El Salvador), Rafaella Smits (Belgium), Enno Voorhorst (Netherlands), and Elina Chekan (Belarus). All will present programs consisting largely of pieces by Barrios. The only non-guitarist in the roster is Manuel Obregon, creator of a unique sound and performance style that incorporates well-known Barrios pieces and motifs arranged for piano. Obregon recorded a CD of all Barrios arrangements titled Mangoré (1999, TEOR/eTica). These artists will also be offering scheduled master classes.
An important component within the Festival program will be the presentation on November 6th and 7th of the first ever documentary film dedicated to Agustin Barrios, titled Santo de la Guitarra: La Historia Fantastica de Agustin Barrios Mangoré, directed and produced by the author of this article. The film features never-before-seen, rare footage of Barrios disciples Dr. Roberto Bracamonte, Victor Urrutia, and Julio Cortes Andrino, as well as legendary guitarists and Barrios scholars that have journeyed for decades along the mythical "Barrios trail" in search of the timeless and fascinating story about one of the world's great guitar virtuosos.
The documentary also includes interviews with Richard "Rico" Stover, author of Six Silver Moonbeams: the Life and Times of Agustin Barrios Mangoré (USA, 1992); in El Salvador, Dr. Carlos Payes, the guitarist and composer that compiled nearly 70 original Barrios works in the mid 1960s and turned them over to guitar virtuoso John Williams in 1969 for analysis; in Paraguay, guitar virtuosos Felipe Sosa and Sila Godoy -- Godoy (1919), a student of Consuelo Mayo Lopez and Andres Segovia and one of the great compilers of Barrios artifacts ; and in Brazil, the legendary record collector Ronoel Simoes, who for more than 50 years collaborated with many of the world’s great classical guitarists and recording companies, including Chaterelle Verlag, the company in Germany that records the all-Barrios original recording CD sets (1993, 2004 and 2009). The documentary also brings to the forefront for the first time the issue of Andres Segovia’s refusal to either "perform or promote" the work of his Paraguayan contemporary. The documentary was filmed over an eight year period in Paraguay, Brazil, El Salvador, and Italy, and is presented in Spanish with English and French subtitles.
The Festival will offer scheduled master classes with most of the invited artists, as well as conference-workshops covering several themes including “the guitars of Barrios” given by event organizer and luthier, Federico Sheppard, who will be presenting replicas of Barrios’ instruments such as the Sanfeliu (1930), today housed in the Cabildo Museum in Paraguay; the Simplicio (1927), today found in a private collection in Italy; and the Morant (1934), Barrios’ last guitar that is now jealously guarded in the vaults of the Guzman Museum in El Salvador. These instruments will also be used in several of the performances throughout the Festival. The author of this article will be giving presentations on the “Barrios history – from Paraguay to El Salvador” using a unique collection of images taken in more than 10 countries along the “Mangoré Trail”.
Finally, these historic performances will be broadcast over Belgian National Radio and Paraguayan National Radio. Combined, these events make for a unique Festival and a fitting tribute to one of the truly great legends of classical guitar. More information about the Barrios Festival in Belgium can be found on the Festival’s official website at www.barrios2009.com.