Ronald Radford

 
Press Release #4

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"FLAMENCO GUITAR: BLUEGRASS, SPANISH STYLE?"

Don't think that because Ronald Radford lives in St. Louis Missouri, his Flamenco guitar concert is an ordinary event. The guitarist, who performs in the (name of auditorium) (day of week) (afternoon/evening), is one of only about a half-dozen concert Flamenco guitarists touring today - and the only North American among them. Funding is provided by (name of funding agencies).

Solo Flamenco guitar music, which is sometimes whimsically called "Gypsy jazz," only came into its own in the late 1930's, when Carlos Montoya’s uncle Ramon Montoya legitimized it as a separate art form distinct from the usual guitar accompaniment of Flamenco singing and dancing. Even his native Spain was slow to accept solo Flamenco guitar as a distinctive form until Carlos Montoya, Sabicas, Mario Escudero and others popularized it outside the country, Radford says.

It was Montoya who inspired Radford to take up the unique musical form when he was in high school. Radford was dabbling in a more familiar musical outlet - a rock and roll garage band. While on a summer family vacation in Minnesota, his mother brought a $1.98 Montoya record home from the grocery store. "It was love at first sound" says Radford, and he spent the next year copying the style by ear. When the legendary artist came to Tulsa to perform, the young Radford arranged a backstage visit.

"I met him and played for him with the intention of asking for his advice as to where I should study in Spain," Radford recalls. But Montoya, impressed with his natural talent, instead invited Radford to study with him in New York as a private student.

As soon as he arrived in New York City Radford began studying with Montoya and playing professional engagements including Carnegie Hall. After a career sidestep via the Army in Vietnam, Radford resumed his studies by touring Spain.

He was the only individual ever to be awarded a Fulbright scholarship in Flamenco Guitar music, but there was no formal method of studying it. He said, "I had to find the individuals who were masters of the musical styles I wanted to learn and then track them down. He traveled thousands of miles in Spain immersing himself in the music and lifestyle of the Spanish Gypsies.

Radford's success has now led him to the unique position of being one of the busiest concert flamenco guitarists in the world with an impressive record of packed concert halls and standing ovations.

"Flamenco is one of the most highly disciplined and complex folk art forms to be found anywhere", he says. It's structured like "a musical kaleidoscope," using "song forms" of rhythmic patterns rather than specific melodies. The forms serve as a reference point for the individual interpretation, which never sounds quite the same way twice."

"I like to compare Flamenco to American Bluegrass music, which I also play a little," he says. "It's not an exact parallel, but they're both based on non- written oral traditions handed down through the generations."

Tickets for Radford's (date) concert are available at (ticket outlets).

For information call (phone number).