'It’s amazing to play at the Opera House. I really don’t know if there’s a big following for this kind of classical music in Dubai, but why not?'
We speak to Mauricio Diaz Alvarez ahead of his Dubai Opera Studio gig
Renowned Mexican guitarist Mauricio Diaz Alvarez is hosting an evening of Spanish classical guitar works in the cosy confines of Dubai Opera’s Studio at 8pm, Wednesday.
Diaz Alvarez will be performing a programme of works from Spain and across Latin America that includes Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Cuba. The concert will feature music by Albeniz, Villa-Lobos, Ponce, Tarrega and other Latin American and Spanish composers.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1973, Diaz Alvarez started studying music at the age of 8. In 1991, at 18 years of age, he moved to Spain, where he pursued his degree at the Madrid Royal Conservatory graduating with honours under the instruction of the legendary Spanish guitarist Gabriel Estarellas.
Now Paris-based, Diaz Alvares has recorded three CDs in the past decade – 2009’s contemporary guitar work Tribute to Marcel Proust, 2010’s recording of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto of Aranjuez, alongside Mexico’s Philharmonic Orchestra of Queretaro, and, in the same year, a performance of M M Ponce’s Concierto del Sur. In 2004, he participated as a judge for the XVI Doña Infanta Cristina International Guitar Competition accompanied by renowned composers Anton García Abril and Tomás Marco.
We caught up with him ahead of his Dubai debut...
What are your expectations for your UAE debut? Do you, or Spanish classical music in general, have a big following here?
Yes, it’s my first time in the UAE. It’s amazing to play at the Opera House. I really don’t know if there’s a big following for this kind of classical music in Dubai, but why not? I’d love the possibility in future to play with a guitar orchestra. This time may be a guitar solo, but why not an orchestra in future? I hope so, but who knows?
This is a fairly intimate gig in Dubai Opera’s Studio. Do you prefer to play in the grand concert halls with a full orchestra?
It’s a very interesting question because, honestly, I don’t mind. I can play for two people and it’s the same concentration and effort as playing for thousands. It’s not important how many people you play for, what’s important is the music.
A lot of people would associate Spanish guitar with the likes of flamenco, but I believe your programme will be a little more traditional?
Sometimes, it’s complicated for me because when I play Spanish music it is classical, not flamenco. I was living in Spain from about 17 years old and for me it is a great culture. Now I live and work in Paris because my family is French, but most of my life is in Spain, so when I play the guitar it is not flamenco but the great composers like Albeniz, Tarrega and so on.
Are the strong historical and cultural links between Spain and the Arab world reflected in Spanish music?
I think the history of this music is so important, in southern Spain particularly, and you can see the route of the music in our culture. If you take a piece like [Francisco Tarrega’s] Recuerdos Del Alhambra, it’s a great piece of music and you can really see the link between the history of the Mediterranean culture and the Arab culture. You can really understand that connection in the music.
What do you hope the Dubai audience can take from your performance?
When I make masterclasses with my students, it’s possible to talk about the music, there are many examples, and there are many reasons to play the guitar as a type of communication and connection. I’m sorry. It’s very hard to express my ideas in another language, but the guitar, it’s all about communication.
Mauricio Diaz Alavarez is appearing 8pm, Wednesday at Dubai Opera’s Studio; tickets start at Dh150