Biography Ricardo Garcia
Of Andalucian origin, Ricardo's family left for France during the Franco years. Flamenco was a way of holding on to roots and the whole family was brought up within the tradition: Ricardo learning guitar from his uncle Antonio from a very young age and later performing with his aunt, Ana Maria, brothers and cousins. His mother, Maria del Carmen is an excellent singer and he accompanied her from an early age. His father, Dionisio, encouraged him and bullied him alternately as a child, making sure he practised regularly and taking the whole family back to his hometown of Morón de la Frontera near Sevilla every summer in order to experience first hand the music and soul of the region.
Morón is one of the cradles of Flamenco and was the home of Diego del Gastor, Master and Creator of the guitar style that Morón is famous for.
Ricardo’s first public performance was at the age of nine and he has played regularly in public ever since. He continued to perform both solo and with his aunt Ana Maria and uncle Antonio in numerous concerts throughout France and in 1988 he was chosen to represent France culturally on a tour around Uruguay and Argentina, sponsored by the Casa de America Latina.
Whilst still a student he performed in the Zenith in Paris fronting a Pat Metheny concert, with an audience of 7,000 which inspired him to incorporate elements of jazz into his repertoire.
Between the ages of 15 and 18 he attended flamenco masterclasses with Merengue de Cordoba, Paco Serrano and Jose Antonio Rodrigues Munoz. His studies with his uncle and on various intensive residential guitar courses focussed heavily on classical guitar at this stage and the three cornerstones to his personal style are flamenco, classical and jazz.
Ricardo acknowledges his debt to masters such as Paco de Lucia and Tomatito, the great masters of guitar in flamenco today.
Ricardo worked in Malawi, Africa for eight years before returning to Europe and settling in Spain, in Barcelona in 1999. The years in Malawi brought him into contact with many other musicians and again widened his repertoire to incorporate African rhythms as well as Asian. He worked especially with Aaron Sangala and the late, great Tione Mwera. A creative collaboration with a sitar player, Bimal Lohd resulted in several excellent concerts. With Aaron Sangala and Bashir Sacranie Ricardo was a founder member of the group Tia Kalulu, mentioned in The Rough Guide to Music in Africa! Both solo and in cooperation with others, Ricardo frequently performed at the French Cultural centre, The British Council and the two beautiful concert halls in the University of Malawi. A very important figure at this time was Prof Mitch Strumpf, the Professor of Music at the University of Malawi, who encouraged Ricardo and stretched his boundaries, he played with Black Pasely and the Lucky Stars, high points!
Returning to Europe in 1999, Ricardo settled in Barcelona and continues to travel mainly between Spain, France and Scotland to perform, although he has also performed in Canada, Asia, the United States, France, Spain, the UK and Ireland in recent years. Ricardo has performed in the Edinburgh Festival for fourteen years running and toured to Montreal and Vancouver in 2005 2006, 2007. 2006 saw him performing on four continents, travelling most of the year. From Cambodia to Canada, Brighton to Bangkok, Montreal, Paris, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Washington, several Scottish dates and Cape Town, South Africa.
Ricardo played a residency in New Jersey in May 2006 at The State Theatre, New Brunswick and he expanded his links with the USA during this year, playing six shows in San Francisco in September and a series of private evenings in Washington in November, 2006.
Kilted Flamenco Guitarist!
Four years of shows and community, and children's work in Kenya and East Africa - to be continued...
Ricardo Garcia is a truly eclectic guitarist - his roots lie in Flamenco, but in recent years he has played Jazz, African music, collaborated with a sitar and tabla player and even worked with Scottish traditional musicians. For six years he has brought a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: conceived, composed and produced as an original work for the Fringe. The fifth show was also performed in the Montreal Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver Fringes to sell out audiences and five star reviews.
Here we present an authentic Flamenco from traditional to modern, moving towards a fusion of elements from its own background (Indian, Arabic, African, South American, Caribbean ) with modern influences such as Jazz, Latin Jazz Bossa Nova, Salsa and others.
Like every other ethnic music, Flamenco is constantly developing: integrating new and unusual harmonies and structures, experimenting with different rhythm patterns, flirting with different styles.We guarantee therefore some surprises, some unexpected collaborations and some astounding fusion! It is our aim to show you something you have never seen or imagined before but never to lose the essential core: the spirit that is - FLAMENCO!
The third CD "Flamenco con Fusion" was released in early 2007 with a series of shows in Canada, the States and the UK throughout the year.
2007 was a year of travel, sell out shows and five star reviews. Ricardo has played in schools, prisons, hospitals, community centres, performed in the Edinburgh Fringe opening party, "Lunch with the Hamiltons", participated on the CD "Set Luna" by Julia Sarr and Pat Larose with Mino Cinelu ( Ricardo says, "A dream come true!"). On the same CD as Youssou N' Dour, Jean Philippe Rykiel, Tafa Cissé and Laiti Mbaye - the launch was in Paris in November 2005.
2007 - more time in Montreal, Washington, Vancouver, Assembly Rooms in the Edinburgh Fringe. Orlando in May. The Audience Choice Award for Flamenco con Fusion in Vancouver after a busy year was a joy. Leticia and Jen from Orlando to Vancouver.
In early 2009 we went to India for the first time, played with Zakir Hussain, Bela Fleck, Ranjit Barot for the first time - in the Blue Frog in Mumbai. This led to Ranjit inviting Ricardo to play and compose for the Bollywood movie Tashan! The stars of the movie were Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan - it was a big deal!!!
The movie did not do well in India but we saw it on at Leicester Square in London and the music was highly praised.
More African work started to come our way - the first trip to Kenya was in late 2010 to play at the FAFA - Festival of Art and Fashion of Africa, also at Samosa Festiva and Diani Beach in Mombasa. As well as workshops with children and Community Music sharing..
The Spanish Embassy in Kenya has supported Ricardo for four years and made a recommendation to the Ambassador of Spain in Ethiopia which led to two tours to Ethiopia - one performance in Harar for the Music Without Boundaries Festival, and a performance at the National Theatre of Ethiopia - a collaboration with Melaku Belay - a great Ethiopian Dancer based in Addis Ababa.
Outreach for the Edinburgh Fringe 2006, guitar masterclasses and childrens' workshops in Cambodia - February 2006....
Caffè Nero has sponsored Ricardo since November 2004 in various ways and played his music regularly in over 200cafés nationwide. He was featured artist in August two years running.