Up Close and Personal with Daniel Salazar, classical guitar
Susan: Tell me a little about yourself -- your background in music, who you studied with, what age you began playing and so on…
Daniel: I was born in El Paso, Texas to immigrant Mexican parents with Spanish roots who instilled a deep love for music. I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by a close knit family extended across two countries, immersed in the cultural traditions of Mexican and Spanish heritage within the bi-cultural environment of the United States border with Mexico. Although there were no musicians in the family, my father and uncles collected all kinds of records and family gatherings always included music and dancing.
I started playing guitar at around age 12; electric guitar at first with “Rock Star” dreams. My sophomore year in high school I heard a classical Spanish guitarist and it was “love at first sound.” After receiving a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Texas I was awarded a scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University Of Hartford, Hartt School of Music, in Connecticut, where I received a Master of Music Degree in Classical Guitar Performance. At Hartt I studied with Artist-in-Residence and protégé of Andres Segovia, renowned Italian virtuoso Oscar Ghiglia. During that time I also began traveling to Spain to pursue additional studies, and also began performing in master classes with illustrious classical guitar maestros. I consider Ghiglia, Christopher Parkening, Pepe Romero, Leo Brouwer and Manuel Barrueco as the most influential.
Susan: Tell me about your work and what a typical day/week is like for you?
Daniel: I am a musician, guitarist, composer and teacher. Most days you can find me undertaking one or more of those tasks. One of the things that takes up a lot of my time is practicing my instrument. It’s easy to forget that when we see a performer on stage it’s literally only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much preparation that’s required to present what you hear in performance.
Susan: What do you like most about your work?
Daniel: Making music! I’m so lucky to be able to share my love for music with people. Seeing how music brings people together is also quite an amazing thing.
Susan: On the other hand, what do you like least about your work?
Daniel: Having to spend so much time away from friends, gatherings and events when I have to prepare for a performance.
Susan: There are a lot of classical guitarists in the world; what separates you from the rest?
Daniel: I’ve been able to expand my scope beyond the standard classical guitar repertoire. In addition to performing my own arrangements of Spanish classics, such as Malagueña (which is also on the program for March 3!), for guitar and orchestra, I’ve also developed a repertoire that can be described as a fusion of Spanish classical guitar with Latin and World rhythms. People can find out more about my music on my website.
Susan: Is Concierto de Aranjuez a favorite of yours? What is it about the piece that moves you? This is actually one of my favorite pieces and I am VERY excited that you’re going to be doing the entire piece with CHSO!
Daniel: It’s such a universally-loved piece. It was even taken into space on one of the Apollo missions. Apart from the beautiful melodies and exciting rhythms, Rodrigo really knew how to bring out the most gorgeous sound of the Spanish classical guitar. When I play it, I feel the guitar’s strings resonate through my body. It’s always a moving experience.
Although I never had the opportunity to meet Rodrigo, I know someone who was very close to him. Early in my career I met and performed at master classes with Spanish classical guitar Maestro Pepe Romero of the famous Romero’s guitar family. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky to see Pepe and listen to his personal stories and insight about Rodrigo, the Aranjuez and the guitar.
I have a recording of the Aranjuez Adagio movement; it’s on my CD Malagueña. Also, I spent last summer in Spain where I collaborated with an amazing Flamenco artist on a new arrangement and recording of Adagio that will be out very soon. So, as you can see, this music has been a very important part of my musical life for quite a while.
Susan: What else can you tell me?
Daniel: I am extremely excited about returning to perform with Maestro Surapine and the amazing musicians of CHSO. Paul has done an incredible job propelling the group to such a high musical level. This program he has put together will move, inspire and amaze!
Susan: Thank you! We look forward to seeing you soon!