The sound came from the back area of the studios. It was refined yet
passionate, a perfect Flamenco, reminiscent of compositions
played bythe “gods” Sabicas and Paco de Lucia.
By Gitana Ana de Madrid
Photos: Gitana Ana & Guidepost unless stated otherwise
Amor de Dios Dance Studios are in another world, far from the cold and oily snows of the “Oil capital of the North,” Alberta, in winter! Winter that never ends while our lives fly by! Over there, across the Atlantic, and a fair degree south is a country of vibrant people called España and Españoles. In its very heart is the city of Madrid, old and glorious and totally entrancing. A Mecca for frost-bitten “gypsies” with frozen feet!
One October day in Madrid not long ago, emerging from an intensive Flamenco class with the famed dancer “Tati”, this Canadian gitana of many years standing was stopped in her tracks by the sound of a perfect Flamenco guitar.
The sound came from the back area of the studios where dancers, but mostly musicians and friends, sit and chat, sometimes eat or practice. But this was no ordinary music coming her way; this was refined yet passionate and perfect Flamenco, reminiscent of compositions played by two “gods” of Flamenco, Sabicas and Paco de Lucia. Haunting, perfectly rendered, the rasgueados brought the tired dancer to a standstill in the empty mid-day corridor.
A handsome man with wavy grey hair and an aquiline nose was sitting at one of the long tables playing his guitar. Though tired and parched with thirst, the “gypsy” could not help but walk towards the guitarist and sit down quietly to listen. For a long time, the musician appeared so immersed in his practice he did not even look up or glance at her. She did not know him anyway. Sitting transfixed at the quality of the sound she was hearing, she felt she was at a private concert and wondered why everyone in the studio was not there too, hearing this perfect Flamenco with such purity of sound and composition. Surely a famous visiting guitarrista?
Finally, they spoke. “Your playing is amazing,” she said quietly. “Thank you,” he replied in fluent Spanish. “It is my life!”
The man was Bruno Pedros, early 50’s, Italian-born, from Naples, but with a Valencian grandfather. He said some amazing things during the days of conversation and music that followed:
“I began playing at age 7. I first learned classical guitar, but when I heard Flamenco in my teens I was converted! Flamenco is my great love but my problem is that Italians do not love Flamenco, and I love my home in Naples! I was at an impasse!”
“Why are you here in Madrid? Are you performing here?”
“Not now. I am just practicing and waiting to see my daughter.”
“Yes, she is 14 and lives here with her mother. I am here for 2 weeks waiting to see her. It is very hard because her mother will not let me spend much time with her and I can only see her every 2 or 3 days. Our relationship is very distant and I am very sad. It costs me a lot of money to come to see her but there is no other way. She cannot come to Italy, she goes to school here in Spain. At best, I can come a couple of times a year. Right now, I must try to find a cheap return ticket to Naples. It isn’t easy.”
Then he starts practicing again and his mood changes into total absorption with his music and he is happy. Bruno plays everything from Bach to the Sevillian he calls “a genius,” Riqueri, still living in Seville but “a bit spaced out.” By this Bruno is suggesting that his great idol Riqueri has “some personal problems that have kept him from the stage, a great loss to the public who barely knows him, but I tell you, Riqueri is a genius, a brilliant composer and performer – when he is able,” Bruno says sadly.
“I used to live in Spain and when I was younger, I went and found Paco de Lucia’s home in Andalucía and knocked on the door. He invited me in and gave me a lesson!”
Asked to keep playing, Bruno Pedros flicks through much-used sheets of music (most gitano guitarists do not read music but play principally by ear). He can play in the style of many guitarists, effortlessly. One even recognizes which musician Bruno is emulating although, often, the compositions are his own – only the sound and style are that of one or other of the many famous guitarists he admires- and he has met many famous ones and knows the style and music of all of them!
Bruno is too modest. It becomes obvious over several days of chatting at the studios where he continues to wait for the call to come and see his daughter. He needs an agent to promote him far and wide. He deserves to be heard. His playing could bring much joy to so many people.
“I would love to just stay home in Naples in my room and practice all day long!” Bruno confesses. “There is still so much to learn and many more compositions to make! You know,” he adds sagely, “if you want to excel at something, you must stay with it and do that one thing well, continuously.”
So easy to say, but impossible for most mortals to do, with so many responsibilities, bills to pay, homes to clean, a daily job . . . Concentrate on one’s artistry? Maybe on the next planet in the next life! But for Bruno it’s his here and now albeit with much sacrifice.
“Paco de Lucia?” he muses. “I wrote a composition for him, a kind of eulogy, after he died [suddenly, playing ball with his grandsons on the beach at Tulum quite recently].”
Bruno Pedros plays his composition for Paco, in the humble back room of the Amor de Dios studios, and this Canadian gypsy sits transfixed, oblivious to thirst and hunger after batting two hours in Tati’s dance class, floating above the ground almost sensing that Paco is also sitting there between them, nodding and tapping his foot to his one-time student: Bruno’s ethereal rhythm, an uncanny incarnation of the graceful and noble soul that was Paco de Lucía. Paco is right there beside him. She feels his presence.
For a few more moments, the endless wait to visit with his daughter is forgotten, the stress and worry about their strained long-distance relationship soothed by his own playing. One day, his daughter will surely see her famous father, Bruno Pedros, on some of the world’s great stages. It is never too late! Genius must out!
PS: Bruno Pedros is currently playing in Seville. For his videos, just Google his name. You might also want to visit his webpage: www.brunopedros.com
Canadian Gitana Ana de Madrid is a long-time friend and writer of GUIDEPOST. Equipped with inexhaustible alegría de vivir and TALENT, she used to live in Spain where she was — still is — known in Flamenco circles as La Gitana Rubia (the Blonde Gypsy) but is now back in Canada managing her own translation and interpreting business.
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