Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas launches summer with Assad concerto premieres

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Spanish Guitarist Pablo Villegas Launches Summer with World and European Premieres of Assad’s Concierto Popular do Rio


On June 26, Pablo Villegas joins the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Guitar Foundation of America Convention to give the world premiere performance of Concierto Popular do Rio by Grammy Award-winning Brazilian composer and guitarist Sérgio Assad. A co-commission of the Guitar Festival of America and Córdoba Guitar Festival, Assad’s new concerto was written for and dedicated to Villegas, who also gives its European premiere with the Córdoba Symphony and Juan Luis Pérez at Spain’s Gran Teatro de Córdoba five days later (July 1). Next Villegas makes his Chamber Music Pittsburgh debut with a solo recital (July 9) and undertakes a residency at Wyoming’s Grand Teton Music Festival, highlighted by a reprise of “Tango, Song & Dance,” his collaboration with violinist Augustin Hadelich and pianist Joyce Yang (Aug 4). To conclude the summer, the Spanish guitarist makes his first appearance at Germany’s Rheingau Music Festival, where he reunites with Hadelich for a sold-out duo recital of music from their Avie release, Histoire du Tango, named a “must-hear album” by NPR (Aug 27 & 28).

About Assad’s new concerto, Villegas explains:

“One of my goals is to continue developing the symphonic guitar repertoire through new concertos commissioned from well-known composers, and to share the expressiveness of my beautiful instrument through a variety of different aesthetics and sounds. I want people to enjoy the Spanish guitar and its unique capabilities at their best.”
His summer engagements follow a landmark season for the guitarist, in which he made no fewer than seven American orchestral debuts. His accounts of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Pittsburgh Symphony were greeted with extended standing ovations, and prompted the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to praise his “thoughtful phrasing and gorgeous coloring: mahogany lows, steely highs, teardrop-like harmonics.” Rodrigo’s soulful concerto was also the vehicle for Villegas’s debut with the Fort Worth Symphony, where he “brought down the house with an encore that seemed almost a catalogue of guitar technique” (Star-Telegram). That encore was Tarrega’s Gran Jota de Concierto, which the guitarist may be seen playing in this WQXR “Café Concert”:
Villegas plays Tarrega’s Gran Jota de Concierto in WQXR’s “Café Concert”
The past season also saw Villegas step up his U.S. media presence, with TV appearances and a feature in the May/June issue of Departures. The guitarist – a native of La Rioja, Spain, who considers New York City his second home – told the magazine:
My mission is to connect people through music. New York is an environment where I find all the inspiration I need. It’s the whole world in a small city.”
Next season, Villegas returns by popular demand to orchestras including the Pittsburgh and Oregon Symphonies, and makes his Harmonia Mundi label debut with Americano, a solo album on which he explores New World guitar traditions from tango to bluegrass.

Pablo Villegas: summer engagements

June 23–28
Oklahoma City, OK
Guitar Foundation of America Convention (debut)
June 26: world premiere of Sérgio Assad’s Concierto Popular do Rio with Oklahoma City Philharmonic
June 27: solo recital

July 1
Córdoba, Spain
Córdoba Guitar Festival
Festival-opening concert
Córdoba Symphony Orchestra / Juan Luis Pérez
European premiere of Sérgio Assad’s Concierto Popular do Rio

July 9
Pittsburgh, PA
Chamber Music Pittsburgh (debut)
Kelly-Strayhorn Theater
Solo recital

Aug 4–8
Jackson Hole, WY
Grand Teton Music Festival
Summer Music Residency
Aug 4: “Tango, Song & Dance” with Augustin Hadelich, violin; Joyce Yang, piano
Aug 8: solo recital

Aug 27 & 28
Rheingau, Germany
Rheingau Music Festival (debut)
“Histoire du Tango” – duo recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin



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