The Spanish Embassy in association with Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah held a ‘Concierto de Guitarra Espanola’ recital, performed by talented Spanish guitarist Francisco Bernier on Sunday, 8 February at the Amricani Cultural Centre.
The award-winning guitarist, who has performed in over 35 countries and delighted crowds in prestigious venues such as the Théâtre Mogador in Paris and Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley among others, drew a large crowd to his initial performance in Kuwait.
The capacity crowd was not the only indication that he has a large following in Kuwait, the enthusiasm with which his pieces were received also showed the deep appreciation for classical music in the country. The program for the evening featured compositions by renowned Spanish composers selected to commemorate the country’s traditional and classical heritage.
Bernier started the evening with a musical number from Fernando Sor, the prolific Spanish composer of the early nineteenth century. Then, he led the audience into an upbeat and lyrical musical landscape with compositions by Joaquín Turina and Enrique Granados. He then took time from his repertoire to discuss the influences on his work, sharing his deep fascination with the composers whose music he played.
The sounds emanating from the guitar were poignantly amplified in the hands of Bernier. The maestro’s fluid movement underpinned each song with a simultaneously traditional and fresh feel. He played with a good mix of emotion and subtlety the compositions of Isaac Albeniz and Francisco Tarrega, exploring a melodic array of texture, timbres, and tones, evoking the composer’s rawest feelings.
He played with individualistic elegance and his command and inventiveness left everyone spellbound at the sheer beauty of his playing. His passion for music was undeniable as his finger work bought out the nuances of the classical compositions, particularly with the last piece of Agustín Barrios Mangoré, the Paraguayan classical guitarist and composer, which found a place among his selection of Spanish-inspired composers.
For the second half, Bernier’s guitar created music with an effect of rhythmic complexity and the resulting harmonic consistency was fantastic. The Spanish guitarist captivated with his sublime technique the strong rhythm and pristine tone of the pieces. It was altogether a completely enjoyable performance as evidenced from the standing ovation he received. The audience agreed that Bernier shone as a soloist, when he presented the compositions that were heavy with expressive interludes, showing a deep connection with the musical material.
Speaking to The Times Kuwait at the end of the concert, he talked about his short visit to Kuwait and how happy he was to meet with so many Spanish music and guitar enthusiasts in the country. He especially appreciated the fact that his audiences enjoyed his music and cherished the art. “The visit was a pleasure for me as it was my first time in Kuwait and I discovered Kuwait city and other surrounding areas. I found the people to be very hospitable and kind; moreover, the Kuwaiti people have a connection with the Spanish tradition due to the shared relationship with the Spanish and Kuwaiti culture. I feel people reacted very well, and I am happy.”
He went on to add, “The final objective is that I could communicate to the audience through my music. With the last piece of Mangoré, I tried to uplift the audience’s mood with the happy notes of this particular piece. For me the important thing is to always be in touch with the emotions of my audience. ”