The Cuban guitarist, Manuel Barrueco [pronounced Mah-noo-éhl Bah-roo-éh-koh], was born in Santiago de Cuba, on Cuba's southeastern shore. He began playing the guitar at the age of 8, and he attended the Esteban Salas Conservatory in his native Santiago de Cuba. He immigrated with his family to the USA in 1967, as political refugees. Later he completed his advanced studies at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where he was granted a scholarship. At the age of merely 22 he became the first classical guitarist to receive the Concert Artist Guild Award in 1974, attesting to the fact that before him, guitar music hadn't been universally accepted in classical music.
Manuel Barrueco is internationally recognized as one of the most important guitarists of our time. His unique artistry has been continually described as that of a superb instrumentalist and a superior and elegant musician, possessing a seductive sound and uncommon lyrical gifts. His career has been dedicated to bringing the guitar to the main musical centers of the world. During three decades of concertizing, he has performed across the USA from the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and from the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra to New York’s Lincoln Center. He has appeared with such prestigious orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, in the American Premiere of Toru’s Takemitsu’s To the Edge of Dream. In addition, he appears regularly with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and with San Francisco Performances.
Manuel Barrueco has toured extensively, and his international tours have taken him to some of the most important musical centers in the world. Highlights include the Royal Albert Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Berlin, Teatro Real in Madrid, and Palau de la Musica in Barcelona. In Asia he has completed close to a dozen tours of Japan and made repeated appearances in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. His tours of Latin America have included performances in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Recently he has appeared in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Munich, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Copenhagen, Athens, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He has also performed as a guest soloist with other international orchestras such as the Russian State Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NHK Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, Auckland Symphony in New Zealand, Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester (Munich) and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
This coming season includes the world premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Danzas Concertantes with the Orchestra of Castilla and Leon in Spain, and a new quintet by Gabriela Lena Frank, which Barrueco will tour with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Other scheduled performances include appearances with the National Orchestra of Spain, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Utah Symphony Orchestra, with recitals in Liechtenstein, Iceland, San Francisco and Seattle to name a few, and he will appear in the guitar festivals of Koblenz, Germany and Cordoba, Spain.
Manuel Barrueco's commitment to contemporary music and to the expansion of the guitar repertoire has led him to collaborations with many distinguished composers such as Steven Stucky, Michael Daugherty, Roberto Sierra, Arvo Pärt and Toru Takemitsu, whose last orchestral work Spectral Canticle was a double concerto written specifically for Manuel Barrueco and violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann.
Manuel Barrueco's first recordings aroused incredulous amazement about his skills and musical interpretation. His recording catalogue includes over a dozen recordings for the EMI label. His recording of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with conductor and tenor Plácido Domingo and the Philharmonia Orchestra was cited as the best recording of that piece in Classic CD Magazine, while his recent, "¡Cuba!," was called "an extraordinary musical achievement" by the San Francisco Chronicle. "Nylon & Steel", a collection of duos with guitar greats Al Di Meola, Steve Morse (Deep Purple), and Andy Summers (The Police), demonstrates Barrueco's outstanding versatility and imaginative programming. His latest release, "Concierto Barroco", with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia and conductor Víctor Pablo Pérez, received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Classical Recording. This CD contains the world premiere recordings of new works for guitar and orchestra by Roberto Sierra and Arvo Pärt, as well as two guitar concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Other recordings encompass many of the works from the Spanish and Latin American repertoire, as well as J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, etc. He collaborated with soprano Barbara Hendricks and flutist Emmanuel Pahud in "Cantos y Danzas", with The King’s Singers on a Strauss album, and with the London Symphony Orchestra on "Manuel Barrueco plays Lennon & McCartney". His early recordings, available on Vox, have become a classic amongst guitar recordings.
Upcoming CD releases include two recordings featuring the music of Astor Piazzolla: "Solo Piazzolla" and "Tango Sensations", the latter in collaboration with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. These recordings will be released as part of the exclusive Manuel Barrueco Collection on the Tonar label, a company formed specifically to release his recordings.
Manuel Barrueco has appeared on a wide array of American television programs including "CBS Sunday Morning", A&E's "Breakfast with the Arts", and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" on PBS. His work in music also inspired Michael Lawrence’s one-hour biographical documentary: “Manuel Barrueco: A Gift and a Life” which was produced in 2006, and has been aired by PBS stations around the USA including WNET-TV in New York. It includes several performances and interviews, in one of which he reminisces over his childhood years in Cuba, and pledges never to return until the present communist regime has come to an end. He was also featured in a Lexus car commercial. Barrueco’s performances have been broadcast by television stations around the world such as NHK in Japan, Bayerische Rundfunk in Germany, and RTVE in Spain.
Manuel Barrueco serves on the faculty of Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, where he now shares his love for music with a small number of exceptionally gifted young guitarists from all over the world.