Paco Peña embodies both authenticity and innovation in flamenco. As guitarist, composer, dramatist, producer and artistic mentor he has transformed perceptions of this archetypal Spanish art form.
Born in the Andalucian city of Córdoba , Paco Peña began learning guitar from his brother at the age of six and made his first professional appearance at the age of 12. In the late 1960s he left Spain for London , where his recitals of flamenco music captured the public imagination.
Venues for his solo performances have included the intimate Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and the monumental Royal Albert Hall in London , New York ’s Carnegie Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam . He has shared the stage with fellow-guitarists, singers and instrumental groups, bridging diverse musical genres, including classical, jazz, blues, country and Latin American.
In 1995 The New York Times declared that: “Mr Peña is a virtuoso, capable of dazzling an audience beyond the frets of mortal man. He combines rapid-fire flourishes with a colourist’s sense of shading; this listener cannot recall hearing any guitarist with a more assured mastery of his instrument.“ It should come as no surprise that readers of America ”s Guitar magazine judged Paco Peña Best Flamenco Guitarist of the Year for five consecutive years.
In 1981 he founded the Centro Flamenco Paco Peña in Cordoba , later becoming Artistic Director of the Córdoba International Guitar Festival. Plans are underway for a new educational initiative in Peña’s hometown, complementing his work as the world’s first Professor of Flamenco Guitar, a role established in 1985 at Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands .