FOLSOM — Beginning their current tour in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Paco Peña and his sextet will bring the true spirit of flamenco to audiences all over the world. As guitarist, composer, dramatist and mentor, Peña’s imagination, dedication and skill constantly renew this archetypal Spanish art form. As the leader of an immensely talented ensemble — in dance, voice and music — he has assembled a stellar lineup for his Folsom debut on Feb. 25.
Critics don’t review Paco Peña; they rave, enthusiastically. Brian Seibert of the New York Times writes, “Listening to the flamenco guitarist Paco Peña play solo, you might believe a few guitarists were helping him out, hidden backstage. He’s that good. And yet what’s most admirable about this modest virtuoso, who can hold an audience spellbound on his own, is how he surrounds himself with artists of similar caliber and lets them shine.” Mr. Seibert goes on at length describing the three dancers, “all marvelous” and his sextet as “excellent company all around.”
Readers of Guitar magazine judged Paco Peña “Best Flamenco Guitarist of the Year” for five consecutive years. Their program, entitled Flamenco Vivo, is a musical journey that displays the highest level of modern flamenco, highlighting the rhythmic complexities of its latest variations of dance, song and guitar. Flamenco Vivo also looks back to the most primitive and pure forms of this captivating art and pays respect to the legacy this tradition has left us.
Born in the Andalucian city of Cordoba, Peña began learning guitar from his brother at the age of 6 and made his first professional appearance at the age of 12. In the late 1960s he left Spain for London, where his recitals of flamenco music captured the public imagination.
Venues for his solo performances have included the intimate Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, the monumental Royal Albert Hall in London, New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He has shared the stage with fellow-guitarists, singers and instrumental groups, bridging diverse musical genres, including classical, jazz, blues, country and Latin American.
Peña has performed regularly with his own hand-picked company of dancers, guitarists and singers in a succession of groundbreaking shows. The Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company has taken flamenco into the realm of music-theatre with regular seasons in London (Royal Festival Hall, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Barbican) and festival appearances in Edinburgh, Adelaide, Amsterdam, Athens, Israel, Istanbul, Singapore and Hong Kong.
In a different review, The New York Times declared, “Mr. Peña is a virtuoso, capable of dazzling an audience beyond the frets of mortal man. He combines rapid-fire flourishes with a colourist’s sense of shading; this listener cannot recall hearing any guitarist with a more assured mastery of his instrument.”
Paco Peña: Flamenco Vivo performs at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25, at Three Stages. Tickets are $25 to$39; premium tickets are available for $49. Students with ID get in for $12. Purchase tickets online at threestages.net or from the Three Stages ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Three Stages is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.