Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas has performed composer Joaquín Rodrigo’s famous “Concierto de Aranjuez” many times, but never in Metro Vancouver.
That changes next week when Sáinz Villegas, now based in New York City, make his debut here in a pair of performances with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, first at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, March 28, followed by a concert at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre two nights later.
“It is such a beautiful concerto, one of the most well known ever written,” Villegas told the Now-Leader in a phone interview. “I love playing it.”
Hailed as “the soul of the guitar,” Sáinz Villegas is known as one of the greatest Spanish guitarists of his generation.
Three years ago he shared a stage with noted tenor Plácido Domingo in a Madrid stadium packed with close to 85,000 fans.
The resulting 12-song collection, called Volver, was released last fall on the Sony Classical label.
In bringing Sáinz Villegas to stages in Surrey and Vancouver, as part of his current 23-date tour of North America, the VSO hailed him for “passionate, emotive and open-hearted playing” of the guitar.
Sáinz Villegas grew up in the La Rioja region, where he started out performing for nursing-home residents, at age seven.
“I fell in love with the experience of sharing the music, and connecting with people and sharing that with them,” he said.
Years later, the experience inspired the guitarist to create a social project that sees him perform for children and youth audiences in Spain, Mexico and the U.S.
“I wanted to bring people together with music, and I started going to all these schools and developed this project,” Sáinz Villegas explained. “It just grows, and I feel it is my duty, my responsibility, to share this music with anyone, with everyone. There are many different activities, and the basic one, since the beginning, is going to different schools and performing concerts and also telling stories that have values, a theme, how we relate, how we relate to others based on our values, with multicultural, tolerance and personal responsibilities.”
Among recent career highlights, Sáinz Villegas strummed his guitar on a floating stage on the Amazon River with Domingo, and performed the world premiere of “Rounds,” the first composition for guitar by multiple Academy Award-winner John Williams. He also toured Japan with the National Orchestra of Spain.
With “Concierto de Aranjuez” on Surrey and Vancouver stages, Sáinz Villegas will attempt to “transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature,” as described in a Wikipedia post about the composition, written by Rodrigo in 1939.
The nights of music, conducted by Victoria Symphony’s Tania Miller, will also feature Mozart’s “Haffner” symphony and Schumann’s “Symphony No. 2 in C Major.”
Prior to the 90-minute “Surrey Nights” series concert at the Bell, a special “prelude performance” in the theatre lobby will feature the VSO School of Music Guitar Ensemble with the school’s faculty guitar artists in residence, Stanton Jack and Louise Southwood, starting at 7 p.m.
Tickets are priced from $27.25 to $42 at vancouversymphony.ca, or call 604-507-6355. The Bell is located at 6250 144th St., at Sullivan Heights Secondary in Surrey.