Acclaimed classical guitarist Pablo Sainz-Villegas was just seven years old when he played in public for the first time. Ever since, he has felt that sharing his music, especially that of Spanish cultural tradition, is most important to him. We spoke to him about his mission and how his studies in Germany impacted both his life and career.

Discover Germany: What triggered your decision to bring Spanish musical tradition into global focus again?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: I play an instrument that is totally linked to one specific culture and country – the Spanish classical guitar. It is both a versatile and universal instrument which can express itself in different styles and thus becomes a bridge that invites and touches the heart of people, sharing the values of inspiration, multiculturalism, unity and tolerance.

Discover Germany: What role does flamenco play in classical Spanish guitar music today? Has this changed over time?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: In the past 100 years, the guitar has enjoyed a tremendous flamenco influence, thanks to the popular music inspiring classical composers such as Granados, Falla or Turina. The Spanish classical and the flamenco guitar are like sisters who express themselves in similar ecosystems with a common objective – to move the audience.

Discover Germany: Apart from Spanish influences, what other paths do you enjoy exploring?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: Playing the classical guitar has allowed me to develop an extraordinary technique to explore any musical genre. My purpose is to bring music and people close to each other. That’s why I enjoy collaborations in other fields. In my album Americano I explore American traditional music, from the southern states of the US through to Brazil or Argentina. I toured with a traditional percussionist and a bassist, doing traditional arrangements. That’s the true power of the guitar, to have a voice in all these styles around the world, from folk to pop, rock or classical.

Discover Germany: You have been quoted with the words “Playing with the Berliner Philharmoniker took me to a different dimension” last year – what does a Berlin ‘gig’ and especially playing under Kirill Petrenko mean to you?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: I moved to Germany when I was 19, to study in both Weimar and Berlin. Coming from Spain, it was the first time I was exposed to the wonderful experience of watching the Berliner Philharmoniker live. In each concert, I was moved and dreamed of being on that stage one day. This dream became true 20 years later, and it has been both a milestone for me and the classical guitar – the last time a guitarist had played with the Berliner Philharmoniker was 40 years ago! It was also a special night for Spanish music, as the whole New Year’s Eve Gala was dedicated to Spanish classical music and composers. Amidst the pandemic, it was a necessary concert to have. As maestro Kirill Petrenko said, it is now more than ever that music has a unifying message of hope for everyone.

Discover Germany: What do you see as other significant milestones?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: Among my milestones is playing a solo recital at the New York Carnegie Hall, where Andrés Segovia had played 38 years ago. Doing my debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was wonderful. I also remember when I played at Real Madrid’s stadium with Plácido Domingo for an audience of 85,000 people! In 2021, I recorded a duet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, composed and arranged by John Williams. And having played for the Dalai Lama has been a moment I will always cherish.

Discover Germany: How did you experience your first concert ever?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: I went on stage for the first time at the age of seven, and that day has defined my relationship with both my guitar and the audience. I learned that the audience gives purpose to my creative process and that music belongs to the people. I felt that union with them as a profound emotion, driven by the will to explore the souls of everyone I touch with my music.

Discover Germany: You played for your fans online during the lockdown last year – what does it mean to share your music at all times and against all odds?

Pablo Sainz-Villegas: As I believe, music belongs to people. During the pandemic, as musicians and artists we have had a social responsibility to share our music with everyone, as a message of unity. Music is a language of emotions and a natural vehicle for transmitting messages of hope and light. And in those moments when we were all locked down at home, music has served to unite millions of people around the world. Personally, I have felt accompanied by the online audience in this challenging year for the arts and musicians. Being a musician means to share – to share your music and to be generous with your gift.

Web: www.pablosainzvillegas.com

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