Harpist and castanet legend to share stage in Istanbul
Castanet legend Lucero Tena will take the stage with French harp virtuoso Xavier de Maistre for the first time in Turkey on Nov. 23. This special meeting will feature performances from de Miastre’s album “Serenata Espanola,” which deals with Spanish music in a period of 300 years and includes a duet with Tena.
Tena has marked a personal, unmistakable style on her performance of the castanets, and she has distinguished herself for her promoting and incorporating this instrument into the big concert halls as a solo instrument of concert works. Under this meaning she has created the name of Castanets Soloist, befitting her activities.
Lucero Tena has performed as a soloist in concert halls across the five continents, under the baton of conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Mstislav Rostropovich, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Jesús López Cobos, Sergiu Comissiona, Franz-Paul Decker, Miguel Ángel Gómez Martínez, Peter Guth, García Navarro and Adrian Leaper.
The audience will witness the musical harmony of de Maistre and Tena during the concert that will take place at Istanbul’s Cemal Reşit Rey (CRR) Concert Hall.
In an interview, Mexican-born Tena, who spent most of her life in Spain, spoke about her musical journey.
What are your very first memories of music? Was music a part of your family and life?
It all started in kindergarten when somebody invited me to a slide of cheese, and I contracted Malta’s fever. The doctors advised my parents that for my recovery I need to do a lot of physical exercises and that is how I began ballet at only three years. As a child I knew that mine was dancing and when I started at the American School Foundation of Mexico City, I continued seven years with Nina Shestakova, who had been the first figure of Monte Carlo’s Russian ballet and at the same time with Emilia Diaz, my Spanish dance teacher who was a refugee from the civil war. I went out of classical ballet and got into Spanish dance to learn everything. At 11 years old Nina talked seriously with my father and told him that I had the skills to devote myself to classical ballet completely but that I would have to choose between both and dedicate myself to one entirely. Nina took it fatal because my decision was Spanish dance…
How did you manage to promote and incorporate castanet into the big concert halls as a solo instrument?
Along my life I had to take an important decision, and after 25 years I was invited around the world to perform in my three different disciplines as a castanets player and a Flamenco and Spanish dancer I decided to devote myself as a musician of this instrument, incorporating it to the classical music repertoire. Luckily, many of the great artists and conductors of classical music that already knew me, supported, backed me and gave me the change to perform with them.
You have a wide repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary pieces besides new commissions specially written for you. How does this versatility contribute to you?
I am a person that likes to investigate and try to reach new sounds of this small instruments so different styles of music, make me work more and more and respect. I still practice every day two or three hours.
You recorded an album and will share the stage with Xavier de Maistre. What would you like to say about your musical collaboration? How is working with him?
It is the most amazing story. My agent invited Xavier de Maistre, for me one of the best harpist players in the world, to one of my performances in Paris, he was so impressed that told her after a week he wished to make a program recital with me. And after some meetings, to find out the right repertoire for both instruments, not only we recorded for Sony, but we have regularly been touring in Europe, China and Japan. He is a wonderful musician and though the age we match very good together, noting every performance we play together.
Could you please give us more insight about “Serenata Española?” How do you explain this album?
It is a wonderful Spanish repertoire whose arrangements were done by de Maistre and both instruments fit perfectly with this music.
You’re touring all around the world and performing. Which country and audience mesmerize you the most?
Quite honestly Japan always impressed me very much. Never happened to me, to be recognized and stopped in the streets to kiss my hands.
How do you feel about your coming Istanbul concert? Do you have any idea about Turkey?
I’m very much looking forward to play there in such wonderful hall, and it is an amazing country.
You’re a very productive artist. What are your future projects?
After the recitals in Japan and China with Xavier de Maistre, I will be playing at the Opera House of Barcelona in a Zarzuela production, will perform again with de Maistre in China next January and after concerts with him and a Chamber Orchestra in Munich, Luzern, and at the Schleswigholstein Festival, as well as my debut at the Colon of Buenos Aires with four performances of Falla Vida Breve.