Ronald Radford

Flamenco Guitarist Dazzles OTC Crowd

A Review by Mary Sue Price

The melodies were haunting, the rhythms were fiery and the concert was a leisurely journey into flamenco - the folk music of southern Spain - led by Ronald Radford.

Radford presented a friendly, unpretentious and technically dazzling performance Thursday evening for approximately 300 people at the Oklahoma Theater Center.

From the very literal imitations of bugles and drums in "Holy Week in Seville" to the unspeakable sadness of the "Cante Hondo," the Spanish songs of lament, Radford performed with a consistently crisp technique that is flexible enough to master the extremes inherent in the flamenco style.

Flamenco, the manic-depressive cousin of jazz, bluegrass and the blues, is the unwritten, traditional guitar and dance music of Spain. Between songs, Radford traced the history of the music to the Zambra, a melodic style from 12th- century Spain that was part of the Moorish tradition. He also shared stories about his experiences with the Spanish people in a casual, friendly way that giving the event more the atmosphere of a living room than a concert hall.

Radford included Spanish-tinged classical selections, along with familiar Spanish tunes and other music be learned during the years he lived in Spain. As the only Fulbright scholar to study flamenco, Radford clearly has done his homework. He has the virtuosity, historical perspective and warm personality it takes to keep the flamenco tradition alive.

Radford has performed at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and throughout the United States, Europe and Canada. In this concert, sponsored by the Oklahoma City Guitar Society, and funded by the State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Radford proved that flamenco is, indeed, the music of the heart. It is learned by ear, not by notes on a page. It is passed along from person to person, as it was passed along from Radford to the audience Thursday night.

Radford will lead an informal discussion and master class at 1:00 p.m. Saturday in the Oriel Room of the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center on the Oklahoma City University campus.

The Daily Oklahoman/Times, Oklahoma City, OK - By Mary Sue Price