Leo Blanco, pianist
Leo Blanco is a Venezuelan pianist, arranger and composer. Leo grew up in Mérida-Venezuela, where from early age he was surrounded by Venezuelan folklore – a blend of African and European musical traditions– as well as jazz, classical music and pop. At the age of 11 he already was a member of the Mérida Youth Symphony Orchestra.
After moving to Caracas at the age of 16 he performed and recorded with his own Jazz trio, while studying Improvisation, jazz harmony and piano at the musical Institute “Ars Nova” and University of Musical Studies. Soon he started working with very well known jazz and Latin pop national artists. During his eight year in Caracas, Leo obtained vast experience as a composer, arranger, and musical producer while working as musical director at the city’s oldest and most important jazz venue, Juan Sebastian Bar. There, with the Leo Blanco Trio, he shared the stage with major international jazz artist such as Terence Blanchard, Danilo Perez, Pat Metheny, Chucho Valdez (Irakere), Joao Bosco, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
His interest in world music and jazz brought him to Boston in 1996, where he immediately obtained a full scholarship to study composition and improvisation in both Berklee and then New England Conservatory. His talent and dedication to music was very quickly recognized in the US. In March 1996, Leo was the first Latin American to win to a prestigious Jazz awards: the “Boston Jazz Society Award”, and in May of the same year, he received the Billboard Grant Award for his “talent, commitment, achievement and other attributes indicating that he is likely to make a significant contribution to society through music. Comissioned to write a new piece “End of the Amazonia” for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Leo continued to be very active in the international music scene. He has participated in a number of musical projects, adding his creativity and talents to other genres such as North American folk, Afro Latin, classical. He has played with highly acclaimed artists such as Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses, Dave Samuels, Jamey Haddad, Antonio Sanchez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jane Bunnett.
In the international arena, Leo has been a guest of renowned World Music and Jazz Festivals, such as Newport Jazz Festival (USA), Monterey Jazz Festival (USA), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Edinburgh’s International Festival (Scotland), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Kobe Jazz Festival (Japan), Festival de Música (Brazil), Festival Latino Americano (Italy), Festival Latino (Italy), Festival Tentarera (Germany), Music Festival de Paleo (Switzerland). He was invited to perform and record a T.V Broadcast by the Cultural Ministry of Yugoslavia. He has played as guest soloist with several Venezuelan orchestras, including Symphonic Orchestra of Funda Ayacucho, Symphonic Orchestra of Mérida and the Symphonic Orchestra of Lara.
Blanco’s most recent Album CD is “AFRICA LATINA’ on the European label Ayva with notable musicians like saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Antonio Sánchez and guitarist Lionel Louke, among others. This new recording is “an excursion through the music hinterland of African music influenced on Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.”
Clara Rodriguez, pianist
Resident in London since the age of seventeen, Venezuelan born pianist Clara Rodriguez has played highly acclaimed solo recitals and concertos around the world. Her career has also included much radio and TV broadcasts, from the BBC and London's Classic FM to stations in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, China and the Far East.
Clara Rodriguez began her piano studies in Caracas, at the Conservatorio Juan Jose Landaeta and after winning a scholarship from the Venezuelan Arts Council, she trained at the Royal College of Music of London.
Clara Rodriguez is a piano professor at the JD of The Royal College of Music of London, Her pupils have often won piano scholarships to study in renowned public schools in the UK., many amongst them have entered the best music universities and colleges of the country.
She maintains a close artistic relationship with her main teachers and their feed-back is still important to her: Phyllis Sellick, Guiomar Narvaez, Niel Immelman and Paul Badura-Skoda have had a strong influence in Clara's style of playing.
Clara Rodriguez offers a very exciting and large repertoire that encompasses much of the traditional and contemporary piano literature as well as many pieces by Latin American and Spanish composers. Her highly artistic approach to the music she interprets has been a key element to the success of her concerts and recordings.
She has been instrumental in making an important impact in the music scene by taking Venezuelan, Cuban, Brazilian, Argentinean and Spanish composers to audiences around the globe.
Clara Rodriguez has embarked on very interesting recording projects and has released important CDs containing the music of previously little known composers and that thanks to her are now heard all over the world.
Clara Rodriguez has given many first performances of piano pieces, including that of the many works dedicated to her:
- Vista Clara by Lawrence Casserley
- Sin Manija for piano and electronic sounds on tape by Michael Rosas-Cobian which she premired at the London South Bank Centre in 1996.
- Voices:2 and Six Arden Bagatelles by Michael Rosas-Cobian which she premired at London's South Bank Centre and at the Wigmore Hall.
- Venezuelan composer Federico Ruiz has dedicated much of his piano music to Clara Rodriguez: Nocturne; Triptico Tripical; his Piano Concerto No 2; 16 Variations on Carmen la que contaba 16 aos, Carnaval, Zumba que zumba.
Clara Rodriguez also performs the traditional piano repertoire of works by Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Scriabin, Dutilleux, Prokofiev, Mompou, Ravel, Debussy, Webern, Berg
Marco Granados, flutist
Flutist Marco Granados, a recent Winner of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 competition, maintains an active international career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. His diverse repertoire spans from classical to folk, with an emphasis on Latin-American music as his specialty. He has been a member of many critically acclaimed ensembles, among them the Quintet of the Americas and Triangulo (Latin American Chamber Trio). As a founding member of the Amerigo Ensemble, The Camerata Latinoamericana and the Granados/Abend Duo, Mr. Granados’ collaborations also include those with The Cuarteto Latinoamericano, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and with such distinguished artists as Paquito D'Rivera, flutist Ransom Wilson, harpist Nancy Allen, oboist Heinz Holliger, flutist William Bennett, as well as with soprano Renee Fleming and baritone Dwayne Croft. Recent performances include recitals at Wigmore Hall in London, tours of the US, Slovenia and South Africa. He has also performed at many summer music festivals including Moab, Chautauqua and the Colorado Music Festival in addition to the Caramoor International Music Festival. Mr. Granados is Music Advisor to Caramoor’s Latin American Music Initiative: Sonidos Latinos.
In his native country, Mr. Granados has performed with many of the leading Symphony Orchestras, premiering both the Jacques Ibert and Aram Khachaturian flute concerti with the Maracaibo and Venezuelan Symphony Orchestras, respectively. He also gave the South American premiere of the Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by Mexican composer Samuel Zyman with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Lima in Peru. Past solo engagements have included a special invitation in 1986 by the Mayor of New York City to perform for Placido Domingo at Gracie Mansion. In recital, he made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 1991. Since then, he has performed recitals in the United States, Canada, South America and the Caribbean. The first musician to have appeared as soloist for three consecutive seasons with the New York City Symphony at Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, Mr. Granados has also appeared as soloist with Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, members of the Cleveland Orchestra, The Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, the Haydn Festival Orchestra of Maine and L’Orchestra in the Berkshires, among others.
On radio broadcasts, Mr. Granados was featured nationwide in 1996 on National Public Radio's Performance Today with Camerata Latinoamericana, and recently presented a program of Venezuelan and Latin-American music on Around New York with host Fred Child of WNYC. Other radio appearances include live performances on WQXR in New York City. As a recording artist, he has appeared on such labels as CRI, Chesky Records, MMC Records, Koch World and XLNT Records. Mr. Granados has toured the United States on several occasions with the Quintet of the Americas, with performances at Carnegie Hall, The Bermuda International Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Alice Tully Hall in New York City, and in many university concert series. As an artist-in-residence at Northwestern University in Chicago, he has given recitals and concerts with Elena Abend as well as with the Quintet of the Americas.
Recordings by Mr. Granados include “Music of Venezuela”, Virtuoso Flute music by living Venezuelan composers; “Luna”, a romantic serenade of songs from Venezuela and South America for flute and guitar; “Tango Dreams”, a compilation of works by Astor Piazzolla, and “Amanecer”, a collection of Venezuelan flute favorites. A devoted educator, he travels the world teaching children about the wonder of creation, through his composition workshops. Mr. Granados has just (2010-11) been appointed to the Faculty of the Longy School of Music in Boston.