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‘Connection to Spain’: Cuban-born classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco to play at NHCC

It’s been a few years since Manuel Barrueco performed in Albuquerque.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, the master guitarist will be back in town for a concert at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The performance is part of the Pimentel Concert Series.

Barrueco has spent the majority of his career traveling the world and taking guitar to venues across the globe.

The program for his performance at the NHCC will include music from Spain and Cuba.

“There’s always some sort of connection to Spain,” the Cuban-born guitarist says. “To me, music is a language and it’s a way to travel through different cultures and times. My repertoire consists of Renaissance to very modern and music from Latin America. It’s very diverse.”

Barrueco’s travels across the globe have also inspired him as a musician.

He’s performed with the New World Symphony in Miami and the Seattle Symphony.

And from the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to New York’s Lincoln Center, he has also appeared with such prestigious orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra and with the Boston Symphony under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, in the American premiere of Toru Takemitsu’s “To the Edge of Dream.”

One must not forget the concert halls such as the Royal Albert Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Berlin, Teatro Real in Madrid, and Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, where he has played to sold-out crowds.

“I’m happy with what I’ve done,” he says of his career. “I did a recording with Pl├ícido Domingo, and that was a special performance. I was star-struck. We worked with Joaquin Rodrigo. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I will never forget it. I’m so grateful to have all these opportunities in my career.”

Barrueco says it’s also important to keep his playing on point with hours of practice a day.

“You have to keep your hands in good shape and physically ready to perform,” he says. “It’s like playing sports.”

He also gets the opportunity to teach students during his downtime.

“I tell my students, if the music is honest, it will come from the way you feel,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate to not get bored with anything I play. I love music so much that it never gets boring for me.”