Interview with Guitarist Alba Espert in Luz Cultural

  • By Ana Patricia Santaella

    A.P- What childhood memories do you fondly evoke?

    Personally, I keep the birth of my sister.

    At this time, I was 4 years old and that day, I remember that I was invited to the birthday of a colleague, but I preferred to go to meet my sister at the hospital than to go to the birthday party.

    However, with regard to a childhood memory with Flamenco, I am left with the moment when I saw the morning of Reyes (at 8 years old), a guitar case and when I opened it, I was surprised that inside was what I have always wanted so much: My First Guitar.

    A.P- At what age did you get your first guitar and why was it given to you?

    Well, when I was only 8 years old, I decided to tell my parents that I wanted a guitar to learn to play it.

    It was then, when my parents, as a gift from the Christmas of 2005, bought me a guitar to get started with the instrument. But as a result of this decision, it was when the following question arises:

    Would you rather learn to play classical or flamenco guitar? To which, I responded quickly, leaning towards Flamenco Guitar even without ever listening to Flamenco or being in Flamenco Parties.

    But, honestly, I think I chose the right path when I was only 8 years old, since Flamenco is the music that fulfills me the most and without which I cannot spend a day without listening to videos or performances by singers and guitarists.

    A.P- What has been your musical training?

    As I say, after making the decision to learn to play the Flamenco Guitar, my parents began to see Guitar Academies and I ended up enrolled in the Music School of my city, Jerez de la Frontera, for 5 years.

    After that, I decided to go learn with one of the Great Teachers that Jerez has, José Luis Balao. With him, I stayed for 4 and a half years, and not only learned guitar techniques and works, but also instilled in us the values of life. For this reason, he is a teacher with whom I remember with special affection.

    In parallel to the classes with Balao, I began to receive accompaniment classes to Cante with José Ignacio Franco. I also appreciate him very much, like all my teachers, since he managed to take me to visit Paco Cepero (Jerezano Guitarist), with whom we shared a pleasant afternoon.

    But after a while, I switched to teaching with Manuel Lozano "El Carbonero" with whom I became more interested in Singing Accompaniment, and with whom I continue to teach when I return to Jerez some weekends.

    After this stage of learning in Jerez, for a total of 10 years, I did the Entrance Exams to enter the Superior Conservatory of Córdoba "Rafael Orozco" and currently, I am studying my second year of the Flamenco Guitar Specialty here.

    A.P- In his musical learning his teachers have been crucial. What teachings have formed your current foundations?

    From my teachers I have learned, not only to play the guitar, but also to love this beautiful Art of Flamenco, as a crucial part of Andalusian culture and therefore of universal culture, as is its recognition by being named Intangible and Cultural Heritage of the Humanity.

    From them, I received sufficient training to be able to access the “Rafael Orozco” Superior Conservatory of Music in Córdoba, specializing in Flamenco Guitar, even though I had never studied in any other Conservatory, neither elementary nor intermediate.

    A.P- You are currently studying at the Rafael Orozco Conservatory in the second year of the specialty of Flamenco Guitar. Are you comfortable, is there a good level?

    Yes, I am currently in Córdoba doing the second year of the Superior Conservatory, in which, I am quite happy with the teachers of this Conservatory and with my colleagues, since there is a good level since almost everyone, except for me, has passed by the Elementary and Middle Conservatories, and we can help each other.

    In addition, I have great Masters of Flamenco Guitar such as Manolo Franco or Daniel Navarro "Niño de Pura" and from whom I can learn a lot in each class I give with them.

    A.P- What does Alba Espert aspire to in the musical field?

    Well, Alba aspires above all, to make those people think who are still clinging to the idea that Flamenco is a man's world. That is my main objective, to be able to make them see that this is not the best idea.

    It is true that more and more, this idea is fading, but even in Flamenco Guitar, women find ourselves with more rejections than in Cante or Baile.

    Now, in a professional way, I aspire to give my highest level as a flamenco guitarist and to be able to dedicate myself to this, what I like, the Flamenco Guitar.

    A.P- Does any member of your family dedicate themselves to Art or Flamenco?

    No, as I said before, my family has never heard Flamenco nor have Flamenco Festivals been held. The truth is that I don't know where this great interest comes from.

    Flamenco entered my family through me and now also, with my little sister who dances Flamenco.

    A.P- You have participated in the First Guitar Competition for Young Flamencos "Paco Peña", in Córdoba. How was the experience?

    That was one of the best experiences I have had despite my youth, since I was 17 years old when I showed up. She was the youngest contestant and besides, she was the only female.

    I say that I remember it with special affection because the cantaor who accompanied me, Jorge Rodríguez Ramírez “El Wilo”, won the Best Guitar Accompaniment Singer Award; and for me, it was a huge satisfaction.

    In this contest, which I remember my mother pointed me out, I met wonderful people who today are part of my “Cordovan Family”.

    They are very supportive of me, both personally and artistically, and that is why I am very grateful.

    A.P- What are your favorite palos when playing?

    I think that if I like Flamenco, it is because I like this Art in general. In other words, I like all flamenco styles, from an Alboreá (which is hardly ever accompanied) to a Soleá, passing through the Alegrías de mi tierra.

    I don't have an affinity for the happiest flamenco styles or the saddest ones; But what is true is that when I can accompany a singer with a seguiriya or interpret it as a soloist, I am there too, since it is a style that I love when I listen or interpret it.

    A.P- Are you interested in teaching as a professional outlet, or do you prefer to give concerts?

    What I really would like is to be able to give concerts both in Spain and in other countries, either accompanying cantaoras / s and bailaoras / es or, interpreting Flamenco on Solo or Concert Guitar.

    Now, I am aware that this is very difficult and therefore, I also think that there should always be an outlet for teaching.

    So currently, what I want is to finish my career as a Flamenco Guitarist and in the meantime, to consider all these options.

    A.P- Do you admire any human qualities?

    I admire many human qualities, especially respect for others (whether they are artists or dedicate themselves to another profession), and of course, perseverance and effort, as I believe, are the basis of any job well done.

    A.P- Do you want to add something as a farewell? Thank you for intervening in Luz Cultural.

    I would like to thank you and Luz Cultural for the interest taken in conducting this interview, and to which I am very grateful.

    Thank you very much in advance.