Falling in love with the music is a given at Valentine's Day concert, guitarist says

Contributing Music WriterFebruary 13, 2014 

Pablo Sáinz Villegas will be the guest soloist with the Lexington Philharmonic on Friday.

LISA MAZZUCCO

  • IF YOU GO

    Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra with Pablo Sáinz Villegas, guitar

    What: Concert featuring Sáinz Villegas as soloist on Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo. The orchestra also will perform Valentino Dances by Dominick Argento and A Midsummer Night's Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, featuring the women's choirs of Asbury University and guest soloists and narrator.

    When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14

    Where: UK Singletary Center for the Arts, 405 Rose St.

    Tickets: $20-$70. Available at (859) 233-4226 or Lexphil.org.

When it comes to guarantees, guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas has come up with a whopper.

Here is what he is promising any patron of Friday's Valentine's Day program, Love, by the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Everyone who comes to the concert will fall in love," said the internationally acclaimed Spaniard and guest soloist for the performance. "Well, with the music, at least."

Such a qualifier places Sáinz Villegas on musical terrain over which he has scholarly command. He will be featured on Concierto de Aranjuez, the signature work of Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo.

A piece that has been adapted for a number of contemporary and classical settings (the most famous, perhaps, being the orchestrated jazz revision Miles Davis and Gil Evans designed for the iconic album Sketches of Spain), Aranjuez is also a composition the guitarist has performed with orchestras around the world.

This isn't even his first time playing it here. Sáinz Villegas and the Lexington Philharmonic teamed up to perform it in 2007.

"This piece is an extension of who I am," Sáinz Villegas, 36, said recently by phone from Mexico City. "When I play it, I try to become the music. For me, this piece is the identity of man's culture and, of course, the identity of Joaquín Rodrigo.

Sáinz Villegas pointed to Aranjuez's second and most familiar movement as a definition of that identity. The section is considered a lament for the child Rodrigo and his wife lost from a miscarriage.

"The whole second movement is about this dramatic conversation with God. It's a cry for the love of his child. It's a very powerful movement. I think Joaquín really transformed all that pain into a beautiful and meaningful piece of music that connects to anyone's sensitivity.

"In the end, that's the language of the music. That's why music speaks to anyone. You only need to know the heart to receive those emotions and be moved by them."

That should hardly suggest Friday's performance of Aranjuez will be in any way a mournful affair. The romantic beauty of Sáinz Villegas' playing abounds in a version of the piece he recorded in 2002 and reflects the romantic heritage of an instrument and culture that are forever linked.

"The Spanish classical guitar is the only instrument that is fully linked to a culture," he said. "When we think of the violin or the piano — magnificent instruments that they are — they could be from Germany, Italy or France. But when you think of the guitar, you think of Spain. It's an instrument with roots in the traditions of Jewish music and Arabic music — all cultures that have lived together in Spain over the past centuries. In the end, the guitar is an expression of the country as a culture.

"For example, the first movement of the Concierto de Aranjuez is based on flamenco rhythms. In Spain, I grew up with those rhythms, with those melodies. So it's quite natural for me to play that music on the guitar."

Sáinz Villegas has also been instrumental during the past seven years in introducing that culture to children through a project called The Music Without Borders Legacy. Although the project was introduced to help young people in Spain and Mexico, it has been used through interactive concerts in many global regions. Sáinz Villegas will offer such a recital for area students Saturday at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

"It has been incredible to see the reaction of all these kids," he said. "You have to realize how powerful music can be, especially when you send it to people who never had any kind of contact to art or beauty because of the environment they were living in."

Read Walter Tunis' blog, The Musical Box, at LexGo.com.

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