Some years ago, Fernando Aguera, director of the Guitar Symposium of Curitiba, invited me to participate in the Symposium that was planned to take place in December 2015. Our mutual friend, John Mills, had provided him with my contact as he was also going to attend the event and give a concert and a master class.
That was how on December 4th 2015 I embarked on this journey, in principle exhausting, because after a eleven hour and a half route, I had to stop over Sao Paulo, where I had a hotel reserved for me to spend the night to take a flight afterwards at 6 o’clock in the morning.
Fernando and Fabio fetched me at the airport of Curitiba, and after I settled down at the hotel, Fernando and his girlfriend stayed with me the whole day to keep me awake and entertained and overcome the unavoidable jet-lag. At night we had dinner with John Mills and Fabio and his wife Chris joined us.
On Sunday, Rodolfo, one of Fernando’s friends, two students of the EMBAP (School of Music and Fine Arts of Paraná) and me visited an open-air market in the pouring rain. The truth is that apparently in Curitiba it rains continuously. However I was quite lucky and it only rained that day and I could enjoy a really nice temperature during the days I had left.
On Monday the 6th the opening ceremony of the Symposium took place with a wonderful concert by John Mills that received a standing ovation in two encores, and if there were no more of it, it was because John remarked with his normal British charm that the last was really the last one. And he left us all floating for the rest of the night with the notes full of color of the pieces that he played.
It gave me a great pleasure to see the passion for the guitar in this land and their great musical sense. But, as in many other places, they don’t have sufficient means to carry out a symposium that has been celebrated for 8 years thanks to the joint efforts of all these people that selflessly, organize it. What is commonly known as ‘for the love of art’. And for the love of art we all were there making our contribution.
Gustavo Arias, my distributor in Paraguay, with his assistants Roberto and Raul arrived on Sunday and exhibited my guitars in one of the rooms of the EMBAP; it was enabled for those who wanted to try them. In fact there were moments when we had to leave the room because there was no room for us all due to the great affluence of people. Similarly Gustavo took a Conservatory guitar to leave it in the school so that students could use it.
I thought it was really impressive the level and musical quality of the students I had the pleasure to listen. And I really enjoyed the little periods when I could go to John’s master class and witness the respect and care with which he treated his pupils; when he corrected them and the way he explained how they could improve their technique and why it was necessary, in his opinion, to rectify. It is always remarkable to me to see how such a good guitarist can be so humble and close, never trying to step over anyone.
Something that it is interesting in Curitiba is that it is strange to drink wine. We were looking for a place to have a glass of red wine and it was a difficult task, so finally we decided to ask for permission in the restaurant of the hotel to buy a bottle of wine in the supermarket and take it to drink it during our dinners. Fortunately they accepted our request and we had our good red wine ready to be enjoyed in the company or our friends that, nevertheless, preferred to have beer, but to please us they made an exception and toasted with us for a happy and successful symposium.
The 10th Fabio took me to the airport, and I enjoyed a trip much more comfortable than the outward trip, because the stop in Sao Paulo was short and I didn’t need to spend the night there.