Paraguayan guitarist Berta Roja honors the history of classical guitar
New Classical Tracks - Berta Rojas (Extended)
Berta Rojas — Legado (Onmusic)
“I named her La Rojita, the little red one, because she travels in a red case and my last name is Rojas,” Paraguayan guitarist Berta Roja said about her newly returned guitar, which was stolen the day after she recorded her latest release, Legado.
This recording illuminates pieces written by or as a tribute to two of the most illustrious and influential players in the history of classical guitar — Ida Presti and María Luisa Anido.
“I feel that these women who pioneered classical guitar paved the way for many of us to consider this a profession,” Roja said.
Why is Anido a revelation for you?
“Because I know all of her. I heard an interview where she talked about the difficulties she had traveling. The custom is that a woman playing guitar would travel by herself. She had to wait until both her parents died in 1950 to start playing concerts around the world.
“I find that her music is sincere and honest. I was blown away by the beauty of pieces like El Misachico, which is a tribute to her mother. It has a traditional rhythm from Argentina. It is a ritual dance. You can almost feel the body being carried to its final resting place in the drum accompaniment. The way she describes the passing of her mother with one single note is simple, yet very powerful.
“Presti is another pioneer of classical guitar. She was born in 1924 in France. She lived to 42, but those 42 years were enough for her to be considered the greatest classical guitar virtuoso of the 20th century.”
Why did you decide to create a video out of John Duarte’s Idylle Pour Ida Legado?
“It's one of my favorite pieces. I am touched by the beauty of this lament. When we where thinking of a piece that could symbolize or synthesize what we were trying to do with Legato, we thought that this could be a good piece to have a video of.
“That is what I intend to do with this album. I wanted to contribute more names to be a part of the conversation about the history of classical guitar. It is not only the names of great male composers and guitarists, but also the women.”
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
Berta Rojas — Legado (Amazon Music)
Berta Rojas — Legado (Berta Rojas site)
Berta Rojas (official site)