Flamenco Debuts at the Django with Pedro Cortes
By Ken Fowser
Django Music Director, Ken Fowser, sits down with master-guitarist, Pedro Cortes, to discuss all things Pedro Cortes Flamenco Ensemble! Mr. Cortes will be performing on Tuesday, April 26th with shows at 7PM and 8:30PM, and again on Tuesday, May 17th with shows at 7:30PM and 9PM!
KF: Pedro, we are so excited to have you perform at the Django on Tuesday, April 26th at 7PM. This will be our first ever Flamenco show! What can music lovers not necessarily versed in Flamenco music expect to hear and see? PC: Flamenco is the intertwining of the Spanish Gypsies , Sephardic Jews and Muslim cultures from the south of Spain. The audience will experience how flamenco Dance, Song and Guitar come together and will be transported to the south of Spain. KF: You are a third generation Flamenco guitarist. Tell us about how the tradition of Flamenco is passed down, and what it was like to grow up in that environment learning guitar from your father? PC: Flamenco is a tradition that is passed from family members to the next Generations. While most dads play ball with their sons, mine put a Guitar in my hands and we played together. In my house there was Flamenco 24/7. I grew up around the great Sabicas and Mario Escudero. They were my Fathers COMPADRES and the other two Gypsy families that lived in NYC. So, for me, Flamenco is not a job but a way of life. KF: The dancer, or dancers, in Flamenco music seem to take on a position almost acting like instruments themselves. What is the main role of the dancer in Flamenco music, and how do the instrumentalists interact with them? PC: The musicians follow the dancer and the dancer dictates the tempo and the changes within a dance. The female dancer takes a position of power because she controls the singer and the guitarist. Traditionally in the gypsy culture, at home her power was only in the kitchen. So it allows her inner soul to come out. I said Traditionally, that does not apply to todays society. KF: You were a featured guest artist with the St. Louis Opera and also the New York Grand Opera. How was that experience for you? How did you approach these performances? PC: I was part of many different operas and played Flamenco in mostly Spanish themed Operas. As a musician who enjoys collaboration across genres this was a unique, fun and very different environment to work in as a Flamenco artist. KF: You are an accomplished composer as well as a performer: commissioned by the Cohen Brothers to compose music for the film “Paris Je T’Aime”. What is your approach to composing music? PC: I compose with my heart not my knowledge of music. Depending on the subject theme I put myself in that position and go by feeling. After I map out many ideas I clean them up and reharmonize them using my knowledge. KF: Thank you so much Pedro, we can’t wait to welcome you to our stage!