Juan Carmona at Festival International Nuits d’Afrique

Entrevue réalisée par Varun Swarup
Genres et styles : Flamenco / Maghrebi

renseignements supplémentaires

Juan Carmona is a leading figure in contemporary flamenco guitar. The French master returns to Montreal after his last performance at the Jazz Festival in 2019.

Juan will be performing at Le National on the 13th of July at 8 PM.

PAN M 360: Thank you Juan for being here. Could you tell me a little more about what you’ll be presenting at the show?

Juan: Of course. I’ll be presenting material from my last two albums, Zyriab 6.7 and Perla de Oriente. Zyriab was produced in collaboration with Istanbul Strings, a phenomenal orchestra that’s a pleasure to work with. As it’s difficult to play with an orchestra on tour, wherever Zyriab goes, I invite an artist from that country. At this show, I’ll be playing with maestro Youba Adjrad, an Algerian singer now living in Montreal, who is simply incredible.

PAN M 360: It seems to me that there are many points of convergence between Flamenco and North African music. In the process of making these albums, did you have any revelations about these points of confluence?

Juan: My first encounter with oriental music was with the music of Morocco. I went to Morocco one day to do a masterclass at the Marrakech Conservatory, and the revelation was that I was very surprised to see the similarities between Arabo-Andalusian music and flamenco. In Marrakech, people dance in a way that’s very, very, very close to flamenco dance, because there’s foot tapping, the same thing, rhymes, it’s a lot of six suites too. There are a lot of similarities and it was a revelation to me, and from there I composed a work called Oria, which mixes Arabo-Andalusian music from Morocco with Gnawa from Marrakech, with a lot of excellent musicians and flamenco, and that was my first encounter. It’s a beautiful piece of work, by the way, and I made a record of it, which went on to win a Grammy Award in Los Angeles.

PAN M 360: At your level of virtuosity, how do you keep in shape on tour?

Juan: That’s a very good question. I often compare a soloist like that to a sportsman, you know, a sportsman has performances because he’s constantly training and the day he doesn’t train, the sportsman can’t have the same performances, it’s impossible. A solo musician is exactly the same: if I don’t have 8 or 9 hours of guitar practice, it’s not possible. You know, I don’t put much faith in gift, you know, I believe in predisposition, but predisposition doesn’t work if you don’t work, so virtuosity, technique, sound, it’s all work, work, work, constantly. It’s never taken for granted.

PAN M 360: Well, I think that comes across clearly in your masterful playing. Flamenco is an incredibly rich tradition, but do you find that in the modern world it’s perhaps less recognised?

Juan: I’m lucky enough to travel all over the world. Recently, we did a tour of the United States, going as far as New Mexico, and then we went to Vancouver too. Flamenco is worldwide. I’ve been to China, I’ve been to Siberia, I’ve been to Hawaii. I’ve been to all the Maghreb countries, to Europe. No, flamenco is a music, it’s a tradition that dates back to the late 18th, early 19th century. And it’s not a fashion phenomenon, which means that today, there are aficionados in every corner of the globe. Everywhere I go, there’s great enthusiasm for this music. Everywhere I go, there’s flamenco.

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