Arpa Campesina (My Sweet Little Country Harp)
Bio - Ramón Romero Harp virtuoso from Paraguay, Ramón Romero performs the music from the people of South America and Latin America. This is exciting music! From fiery rhythms to yearning, lyrical passages, Romero's music carries the legacy of the Paraguayan Harp masters, --- his teachers. Romero's repertoire of more than 700 numbers varies in styles from South American folkloric to modern Latin American rhythms. He has recorded numerous albums in South America, Europe and U.S. with a second pending. For over 30 years Ramón has performed with harp and voice for audiences throughout Europe, Africa, South America, and now, in the United States; one formal 10-minute performance for the Queen of Spain lasted 45 minutes, and resulted in another encore command performance after the intermission. Critics say, 'Mr. Romero's performance was 'electrifying.' His technique was astounding and he obviously has an incredible depth of field' (Le Monde, Paris, France); 'His beautiful playing evokes a wide range of emotions. At times he resembles a lush symphony. The harp seems to dance within his hands' (Maui Beat). 'You will never think of the harp the same again.' (John Griswold, State Theater, Modesto) The harp is a haunting instrument and Ramón's specialty is variations on a theme. He plays all the rhythms of South America - guaranias, canciónes, polkas and songs from Venezuela, Argentina, Perú, and all the rest. The right hand plays a melody usually in 6/8 count and the left hand plays the counter rhythm ¾ time. The folk melodies are all based on a European tonal system with the accents in a different place. The effect is emotional and takes you from a beautiful melancholy mood and brings you into passion Ramón was born is a small village in Paraguay. His first language was Guarani (an Indian language of South America) and Spanish became his second. He went on to speak fluent French, a little Italian and some Portuguese. He began learning to play the harp around the age of nine although he had been fascinated by the sound from an early age. His family was poor and he didn't have the money to buy a harp, so he would always borrow a harp from someone in town. One night, when Ramón was 14 years old, there was a big party in town, which was to feature a harpist and a couple of guitarists. The harpist got too drunk to play, so his friend came and got Ramón. 'This is my friend Ramón,' he told the crowd. 'He's going to play the harp for you.' The crowd laughed, 'No, no, not Romerito! He doesn't know how to play'' But when Ramón began to play the crowd went wild. He played so hard that night that he had blood under his fingernails. When he returned to his house with his pockets stuffed with money from people in his audience, he had to explain where he got it. 'My mother thought I had been a bad boy.' Said Ramón. Ramon finally got his own harp when a family member who worked at the Government Palace brought home a window frame that had been thrown away, Ramón carved it into a harp shape about 18'-20' tall with 23 strings. After everyone went to bed at night, Ramón would take it under the bed covers and play it in the dark. Ramon's father played guitar and was very possessive of his instrument. Each day, before he left for work, he would loosen the strings to untune the guitar. When he returned each night, the guitar would be tuned. He was very confused because no one would admit to touching it. One day he left all the strings tuned except one and when he began to play, Ramón piped up and said 'NO! NO! That string is wrong!' He was three years old with near perfect pitch. His family loved music and Ramón was strongly influenced by the music of the famous composer and harpist, Felix Perez Cardozo heard on his mother's radio. One day in school, Ramón saw a movie with Cardozo playing. He began jumping up and down, shouting 'There's my harp! There's my harp!' Cardozo's indirect influence continued when, at 19, Ramón moved to Buenos Aires to play with an ensemble. The ensemble turned out to be the musicians who had played with the late Mr.Cardozo. 'I was speechless when I realized who they were,' said Ramón. The musicians coached him and toned down his aggressive playing and brought out the emotions and delicacy that Cardozo had made famous. Ramón then began developing his own particular style and interpretations. Ramón says, 'folk music is evolutionary music that is always changing. But the feelings and expressions involved in the music never change. And I'm sad because I don't know who will carry on and save it for the future. Ramón Romero performs solo, with harp and vocal music, or in concert with his ensemble Cuerdas de Fuego (Strings Of Fire). Romero resides in Northern California. Romero is a gracious artist with a sense of humor and in incredible talent.