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A Symphony Exposé Concert
Thursday, May 16, 7:30pm

Jahja Ling, conductor
Nuvi Mehta, host
Pepe Romero, guitar
The Romeros Guitar Quartet

CELEDONIO ROMERO: Concierto de Malaga
GOULD: Troubadour Music for Four Guitars and Orchestra

He was a guitarist, composer and poet. And this season we commemorate Celedonio Romero’s 100th anniversary. His legacy lives on via The Romeros, the Royal Family of the Guitar. The program features a lifetime of music including composer Morton Gould’s special work written for The Romeros and celebrating the 200th anniversary of the city of San Diego. The story of the Spanish guitar never sounded so good.

CLICK HERE to read U-T San Diego's recent feature story about The Romeros!

Thank you for a wonderful evening. The music was exquisite, Nuvi was absolutely charming, and the after-party was awesome. I love the idea of the Symphony Exposé. Even as a trained musician, I really appreciated the fun and lighthearted way...a brilliant way to reach younger audiences. My only regret is not inviting more friends! I would love to see more of this! I look forward to attending more concerts, and I will certainly spread the good word!

 - Terence Lee, Symphony Exposé patron


Concierto de Malaga


Born March 2, 1913, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Died May 8, 1996, San Diego


            Though he was born in Cuba, Celedonio Romero grew up in Andalusia, in the southern part of Spain. He attended the conservatory in Malaga and later studied with Joaquin Turina at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid, but Romero’s conservatory training was limited to theory, harmony and composition. He was virtually self-taught as a guitarist. Romero established his reputation as a virtuoso guitarist in Spain, but feeling thwarted artistically under the Franco government, he was able to escape that country in 1957. Traveling first to Portugal and later to the United States, Romero settled in the San Diego area. With his sons Angel, Pepe and Celin, Celedonio Romero established The Romeros Guitar Quartet, which was soon hailed as the “royal family of the guitar.”

            Though he was not a prolific composer, Romero did write a number of works for his own instrument. Romero’s Concierto de Malaga had a curious genesis. This music was originally composed as a suite for solo guitar, but its dramatic scope seemed to suggest that the music might find better expression as a concerto for guitar and orchestra. Romero turned to the Spanish composer Federico Moreno-Torroba (1891-1982) for assistance, and it was Torroba who prepared the orchestral version. Torroba, who completed work on the Concierto de Malaga in 1981, died the following year – this was one of his final projects.

            The title is important to understanding the Concierto de Malaga. Malaga is a city with a long and rich history. One of the oldest cities in the world, Malaga is set on the Mediterranean coast where it was not only a trading and cultural center, but also a city shaped during different periods by Christian and Islamic governments. Malaga is also one of the centers of flamenco music. That can be a difficult term to define accurately, but flamenco music is characterized by rhythmic energy, complex meters, sensual excitement (it often includes dancing and hand-clapping), and bold colors. When he composed this music, Romero was evoking not just the atmosphere of a particular city but also an entire tradition of musical expression.

            The Concierto de Malaga is in the expected three movements, but Romero does not use the traditional sonata form of the classical concerto. Instead, these movements are sectional in construction, with the music leaping between different tempos and moods almost instantaneously. Though Romero is consciously evoking the colorful flamenco tradition in this concerto, the music is remarkable for its seriousness and for the gravity of its expression – it made very good sense to cast this music as a concerto. The Concierto de Malaga is rounded off by a dance-finale. Romero titled it Tangos y Tientos, and while “tangos” is clear enough, listeners should know that “tiento” is the Spanish word for “touch.” In its original sense, a tiento suggested music in which a performer might “try out” his instrument, but the meaning has broadened to include a suggestion of fantasy and improvisation.


Troubadour Music for Four Guitars and Orchestra


Born December 10, 1913, Richmond Hill, New York

Died February 21, 1996, Orlando


            Morton Gould was one of the most important American musicians of the twentieth century, and he appears to have been involved in virtually every aspect of musical life in this country. Gould studied piano and composition as a boy and first made his career as a pianist, performing in silent movie theaters and eventually becoming a staff pianist at Radio City Music Hall. He next went to work in radio, managing classical music for various New York and national radio broadcasts. As a composer, he wrote in many different genres: Broadway shows, film and television scores, ballet, orchestral and chamber music as well as band music. Gould conducted every major orchestra in the United States, and he won a Grammy® for his recording of the music of Charles Ives with the Chicago Symphony. Gould served as president of ASCAP and was on the board of directors of the American Symphony Orchestra League. In 1994 he was named a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, and the following year he received the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Stringmusic, written for Mstislav Rostropovich and the National Symphony Orchestra.

            In 1969, the city of San Diego observed its bicentennial: 200 years earlier, in 1769, Father Junipero Serra had founded San Diego as a settlement, and the city has remained California’s oldest settlement. The San Diego Symphony commissioned Morton Gould to write a piece to commemorate that bicentennial. Gould was a familiar figure to local audiences: he conducted the San Diego Symphony regularly during the 1960s and 1970s and led concerts at both Balboa Park and the amphitheater at San Diego State University. In response to the commission, Gould composed a work that he called Troubadour Music, scoring it for small orchestra and four guitar soloists. Troubadour Music was written specifically for San Diego’s most famous resident musicians, The Romeros: Celedonio, Angel, Pepe and Celin Romero were the soloists at the premiere, which took place in the summer of 1969 under the direction of the orchestra’s music director Zoltán Rozsnyai. That concert was broadcast internationally over the Voice of America.

            Gould’s inspiration for this piece were the troubadours, that group of poet-musicians who flourished in the Middle Ages and who wrote and sang about such themes as chivalry and love. Over a period of time, troubadours came to be known as traveling or strolling musicians, and Gould specifically invokes that custom in this music: his four soloists not only play but also stroll throughout the performance.


Half a century after walking onto the world stage as the first classical guitar quartet, The Romeros continue to be a veritable institution in the world of classical music. Celebrating their 50th anniversary by dazzling countless audiences and winning the raves of reviewers worldwide, their seasons have included sold out performances from Asia to Australia, to Europe and throughout the U.S. The 50th anniversary included a new recital CD recorded and released by Sony Red Seal label, entitled appropriately, Los Romeros: Celebration. That same year DECCA released a retrospective collection, Los Romeros: Golden Jubilee Celebration. A new recording project with Deutsche Grammophon includes a much anticipated Christmas music recording featuring favorites from around the world. Christmas with Los Romeros was released in the USA November 2012, accompanied by a tour of cities across the country featuring music from this recording.

Known to millions as “The Royal Family of the Guitar,” the Romeros were founded by the legendary Celedonio Romero with his sons Celin, Pepe and Angel in 1960. The Quartet went through natural transformations, and today consists of the second (Celin and Pepe) and third (Lito and Celino) generations. To have so many virtuosi of the same instrument in one family is unique in the world of musical performance, and in the realm of the classical guitar it is absolutely without precedent. The New York Times has said: “Collectively, they are the only classical guitar quartet of real stature in the world today; in fact, they virtually invented the format.”

Celedonio Romero was a renowned soloist in Spain. As each of his sons reached the age of two or three, they began learning the guitar from their father, making their debuts in Spain by the time they were seven. In 1957 the family immigrated to the United States, where three years later “The Romeros” walked onto the world stage as the first guitar quartet while the boys were still in their teens. The Romero tradition of family and love for the guitar provided the fertile ground for the next generation of guitar virtuosos as Celino and Lito eventually joined the quartet on the concert stage. On May 8, 1996, Celedonio Romero passed away in San Diego; his sons and grandsons continue his legacy. As the family says, “The spirit of the quartet is him; all our concerts now pay homage to him.” The 2012-13 season will be full of celebratory concerts dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Celedonio’s birth.

The sterling reputation of The Romeros has been confirmed by repeated recital performances and orchestral appearances including symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Sevilla, Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Shanghai and Seoul, among many others. They have made frequent festival appearances throughout the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, Saratoga, Blossom, Wolf Trap, Salzburg and Schleswig-Holstein, among others.

The Romeros are particularly popular with college audiences, making regular appearances on university music series throughout the country as well as on fine arts series worldwide. In New York they have been repeatedly invited to Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, the 92nd Street Y and Rockefeller University. They have appeared at Vienna’s Gesangsverein and Konzerthaus; the Berlin Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Zürich Tonhalle; Madrid Auditorio Nacional de Musica and the Beijing Concert Hall.

Touring worldwide, The Romeros have performed on multiple occasions at The White House. In 1983 they appeared at The Vatican in a special concert for John Paul II, and in 1986 they gave a command performance for his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. In 2000 His Royal Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain knighted Celin, Pepe and Angel into the Order of Isabel la Católica.

Perhaps The Romeros’ most lasting legacy is the creation of an entirely new repertoire for guitar quartet, both as a chamber ensemble and as a concerto soloist. For 50 years, three generations of Romeros have inspired distinguished composers to either write new works or arrange existing ones, including Joaquín Rodrigo, Federico Moreno Torroba, Morton Gould, Francisco de Madina and Lorenzo Palomo. As Rodrigo has said, “The Romeros have developed the technique of the guitar by making what is difficult to be easy. They are, without a doubt, the grand masters of the guitar.”

With a 50-year plus history, The Romeros have built an enviable discography. Their achievements have not gone unnoticed. In February of 2007 The Romeros were granted The Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award from the Grammys® in honor of their artistic achievements. Television fans have seen and heard The Romeros many times on such shows as The Tonight Show and The Today Show, PBS's Evening at the Boston Pops, the KPBS/PBS biographical documentary Los Romeros: The Royal Family of the Guitar, other PBS specials and the NDR documentary film Los Romeros: Die Gitarren-Dynastie.


There are very few true living legends in the world of classical music, few who have sustained greatness and grown throughout their lives. Pepe Romero is such an artist. He has been honored by kings, heads of state and major institutions – the encomiums continue to pour in. But to Romero, his most important contribution has been reaching the common man. He has communicated the richness and beauty of the classical guitar to millions of people throughout the world. He has, indeed, become an ambassador of classical music and, correspondingly, of the classical guitar.

But this gift did not just appear out of nowhere. Pepe is the second son of one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived – Celedonio Romero. And he is brother to two more musical phenoms – Celin and Angel Romero.  But perhaps we should start at the beginning...

Pepe was born in Málaga, Spain, in 1944. In those days, following the devastating Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and during the Second World War, Spain was in desperate economic straits.  Basic survival was the primary challenge. Yet, in spite of this, Celedonio Romero and his remarkable wife, Angelita, instilled in all three of their children a love of music that transcended the profound misery surrounding them.

By age seven, Pepe set foot on the concert stage for the first time, at the Teatro Lope de Vega in Sevilla. And now, more than 60 years later, he continues to mesmerize audiences throughout the world. During that time, he has given literally thousands of concerts worldwide, many with the remarkable Romero Quartet, and many as a solo instrumentalist. He has worked with almost every major conductor alive, and has to his credit more than 60 recordings (among which are 20 concerto recordings with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with both Neville Marriner and Iona Brown).

Pepe Romero has premiered works by some of the finest composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Joaquín Rodrigo, Federico Moreno Torroba, Lorenzo Palomo, Padre Francisco de Madina, Paul Chihara, Enrique Diemecke, Ernesto Cordero and, most poignantly, Celedonio Romero have written compositions for Pepe. Always a champion of music by composers in earlier periods of music history, he has also delved into rare archives to re-explore lost pieces by Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, Francesco Molino, Ferdinando Carulli, Johann Kaspar Mertz, Luigi Boccherini and others.

In 1992 Pepe Romero performed on a groundbreaking laser disc of the Concierto de Aranjuez with Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He played a prominent role in the major film documentary Shadows and Light: Joaquin Rodrigo at 90, which received numerous plaudits worldwide (including the Chicago International Film Festival, International Emmy Awards and San Francisco International Film Festival).

Maestro Romero's many accomplishments include: world premieres of Rodrigo´s Concierto andaluz (with the entire Romero Guitar Quartet), Concierto madrigal (with Angel Romero) and Concierto para una fiesta; Federico Moreno Torroba's Diálogos entre guitarra y orquesta (Pepe was personally chosen by Moreno Torroba and Andrés Segovia for the world premiere recording of this work dedicated to Segovia); and Lorenzo Palomo's Concierto de Cienfuegos (with the Romero Quartet) and Nocturnos de Andalucía  (both released on the Naxos label).  He also revived the great orchestral work Metamorfosi de concert by Xavier Montsalvatge, with Gianandrea Noseda, and premiered (as well as recorded) the Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra with Trumpet Obbligato by Paul Chihara, with Neville Marriner and the London Symphony.

In 2005 the Romero Quartet recorded Concierto vasco para 4 guitarras y orquesta by Francisco de Madina (written for the Romeros) with the Basque National Orchestra on a Claves release (entitled Aita Madina). A prominent new recording entitled The Romeros: Generations features premieres of works by Jorge Morel (such as El Maestro, dedicated to Celedonio) and by Pepe himself, such as Recuerdos del pasado. In the spring of 2005 a solo recital release called Corazón Español became available on the CPA Hollywood Records label. Shortly thereafter, on the same label, came Classic Romero, another invaluable recital recording. In the summer of 2008 Pepe Romero recorded a splendid solo-vocal work by Lorenzo Palomo, with internationally recognized Spanish soprano Maria Bayo. It included the song cycles Mi jardín solitario (with texts by Celedonio Romero) and Madrigal and Five Sephardic Songs and was released on the Naxos label in 2009 along with Palomo's Concierto de Cienfuegos with the Romero Quartet and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting the Sevilla Royal Symphony Orchestra. Celebrating their 50th anniversary and released in 2009 is a brand new recording by the Romeros for Sony´s RCA Red Seal Label entitled Los Romeros: Celebration. In November 2011 Deutsche Grammophon released Christmas with the Romeros featuring the Romeros and Christmas favorites. A new Spanish solo guitar collection featuring Pepe Romero includes a premiere recording of Suite Madrileña No. 1 by Celedonio Romero and was released in summer 2012 by Deutsche Grammophon.

In the 2012-13 season Pepe Romero will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of his father, the legendary Celedonio Romero. And in 2013-14 Pepe Romero will tour the world celebrating his own 70th year.

Pepe Romero has performed (by himself and with his family) at the White House, the Vatican for Pope John Paul II, for HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Beatrice of Holland. He has been a special guest at music festivals in Salzburg, Israel, Schleswig-Holstein, Tanglewood, Menuhin Festival, Osaka, Granada, Istanbul, Ravinia, Garden State, Hollywood Bowl, Blossom, Wolf Trap and Saratoga, among many others.

In the United States, he has appeared with leading symphony orchestras in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles, as well as with the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble and Boston Pops. European ensembles with which he has appeared include the Academy of St Martins in the Fields, Dresden Philharmonic, London Symphony, Monte Carlo Philharmonic, I Musici, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Hungarica, Solisti di Zagreb, Hungarian State Orchestra, Spanish National Orchestra, Spanish National Radio Television Orchestra, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Hamburg Philharmoniker, L'Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, New Moscow Chamber Orchestra, American Sinfonietta and Bournemouth Symphony, among many others.

In addition, he has collaborated with such distinguished conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Jesús López-Cobos, Eugene Ormandy, Antoni Ros-Marbà, Josep Pons, Arthur Fiedler, Lawrence Foster, Enrique Jordá, Andre Kostelanetz, Leonard Slatkin, Phillipe Entremont, Odón Alonso, Morton Gould, Michael Palmer, Guillermo Figueroa, Michael Zearrot, Miguel Ángel Gómez Martínez, Pedro Halffter and Christoph Eschenbach.

Pepe Romero has always felt, along with his father and brothers, that the sharing of one's art is a personal responsibility. Mr. Romero has served as Professor of Guitar at the University of Southern California, University of California at San Diego, Southern Methodist University and the University of San Diego. He has conducted master classes at the Salzburg Summer Academy, Córdoba Guitar Festival and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. In 2004 he was appointed Distinguished Artist in Residence at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music.

Pepe Romero holds an honorary doctorate in music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of Victoria, British Columbia. In June 1996 he received the "Premio Andalucía de la Música," the highest recognition given by his native land for his contribution to the arts. In addition, His Majesty, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, has knighted Pepe and his brothers into the Order of "Isabel la Católica."

A biographical documentary about the Romeros appeared on PBS in 2001 entitled Los Romeros, the Royal Family of the Guitar. Following this production, German television released another brilliant documentary about the Romeros entitled Los Romeros, the Dynasty of the Guitar. In 2007 The Romeros received the President's Merit Award from the Recording Academy, producers of the Grammy® Awards, for their significant contributions to the music world and professional career achievements.

What will come tomorrow? Who knows? Pepe is only just beginning to flex his artistic muscles...


May 16, 2013

Online sales for this performance have now been discontinued. Please call the Ticket Office at 619.235.0804.

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