World Music Matters

Classical guitarist at the crossroads of Puerto Rican, Cuban and Mexican culture

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Our guest on this week's World Music Matters is classical guitarist Arturo Castro Nogueras. RFI caught up with him after a recent concert at the Maison du Mexique in Paris where he played music reflecting his own rich cultural heritage.

Arturo Castro Nogueras performs at the Maison du Mexique in Paris, September 2017
Arturo Castro Nogueras performs at the Maison du Mexique in Paris, September 2017 RFI/Alison Hird

Nogueras began serious classical guitar studies “fairly late” aged 15, a way of “rebelling” against his parents, both professional pianists.

Born into a Cuban-Mexican family, and with Puerto Rican ancestors, his repertoire reflects that rich triple culture.

He interprets, with great feeling, pieces from the popular 19th century Danza tradition of Puerto Rica’s José Ignacio Quinton and ranchera pieces by Mexico’s José Alfredo Jimenez. But also challenging contemporary works by composers such as Puerto Rico’s Roberto Sierra and Cuba’s Joaquin Clerch.

“I think I’m just a communicator, making [this music] available for people and making them feel what I feel when I hear this music,” he told RFI.

“Even the sad pieces I play or the ones that are not so festive, they also have somehow this way of expressing, of processing sorrow and sadness in a very different way from the European way.”

Nogueras moved to the German city of Dusseldorf six years ago to study under Cuban composer and guitarist Joaquín Clerch.

He describes living in Germany as “a big clash”. But it’s proven a creative one.

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