(article written by Joey G. Vargas)
His artistic profile reads:
Born in 1979, Francisco B. Quiroga, started playing the guitar at the age of 12. Once he finished high school he began his formal studies of music at Escuela Moderna de Música in his hometown, Santiago de Chile. He immediately excelled at that school so 4 years later he successfully applied to the most prestigious school of music in Chile, Facultad de Artes de la Universidad de Chile, to continue under the guidance of the world renowned guitarist, Luis Orlandini.
One year later, he obtained his first international recognition by earning the 1st Prize at the International Guitar Competition of Miami 2004, USA (students category).
Later in 2008, responding to other vocational interests he interrupted his guitar studies to devote himself for 6 years to the study of Philosophy and Theology.
Last year, Francisco resumed his guitar studies at Universidad de Chile with Luis Orlandini, and immediately started to reposition himself internationally by reaching the semi-finals at Jakarta International Guitar Competition 2014 (open category).
As part of his formation as a guitarist he has taken part in masterclasses with a number of the most important guitar players of the world such as Ricardo Gallén (Spain), Roland Dyens (France), Jeremy Jouve (France), Jose Antonio Escobar (Chile), Marco Tamayo (Cuba), and Eduardo Fernandez (Uruguay).
Francisco is graduating this year as a Bachelor of Arts, major in Guitar Performance at Universidad de Chile.
On August 3 of this year, Mr. Quiroga performed in a solo concert at the famed neo-gothic all-steel Basilica Minore de San Sebastian in Manila, Philippines.
There is a certain engaging lilt in how he plucks and strums those guitar strings. Sometimes, the hearers would find themselves straining to see whether he is actually playing the guitar, or whether he is playing an actual guitar. The complexity of the musical scores would produce sounds that, to those who have not had much exposure to such music, would seem impossible to accomplish just by playing a single guitar.
There is a silent – almost shy – demeanor emanating from him. When he walked towards the platform set just below the sanctuary of the San Sebastian Basilica, this very demeanor also seemingly commanded that the audience should enter into a state of silence, almost a state of reverence. Or, maybe it is that silent demeanor made more manifest thrust against the grandiosity and beauty of the minor basilica with that imposing spectacular retablo where the Our Lady of Mount Carmel stands at the center.
After a few minutes checking the sound, ensuring that the audience may hear even the subtlest of musical nuances, he began with the gentle, almost meditative, notes of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude BWV 998. This was followed by Francisco Tarrega’s Capricho Arabe that still sounded so gentle in spite of, or because of, its gently-plucked arpeggios.
He ended the first part of the concert with that poignant composition, Fernando Sor’s Fantaisie Elegiaque. At a lot of moments during the performance of this rather long piece of elegy, a sensitive hearer could note a tri-movement: that of the bass line, a melodic line, and the harmonic movement that would seem to weave all the elements. To one whose ears and heart were lent to understand, one may probably here a sense of grief and longing as this piece is played. The movement is similarly gentle, yet the mood is lent towards much longing, perhaps for someone who already passed on, or a longing for life itself as if the music becomes a moment to say farewell.
During the intermission that followed, Ms. Tina Paterno, the Executive Director of the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc., spoke of the ongoing and continuing work done for the preservation of the cultural and spiritual heritage that is the Basilica. It is also for the promotion of this work that the Foundation has been organizing events in the Basilica, so that each event becomes an opportunity to make more public the efforts being done by the Foundation, and so as to ultimately encourage more people to have a sense of ownership and to get involved in this work of conservation and development.
For the second part of the concert, Quiroga deviated a bit from the melancholia of the first set of his programme as he began the second part with Agustin Barrios’ Vals No. 4 Op. 8. With this piece, he seemed to have unconsciously woven the movement of the waltz embedded in the composition with his sense of serenity, that the waltz became rather reflective, romantic with a sense of nostalgia.
Continuing from the deviation, lending variation to the general mood of the programme, he then performed Joaquin Turina’s Fandanguillo, the movement of which, including the variety of its dynamics, could make the hearer physically follow its sudden changes in rhythmic patterns and dynamics.
Quiroga then performed Frank Martin’s Quatre Pieces Breves, which is composed of four brief pieces – Prelude, Air, Plainte (Lamentation), and Comme une Gigue (Like a Gigue) – that as a whole showcased a diversity of movement and style. Contrasted with the other scores that comprise the programme, Martin’s compositions came out as more contemporary, thus, starkingly different.
After performing pieces composed by masters respectively coming from Germany, Spain, Paraguay, and Switzerland, Quiroga ended the concert with compositions done by a fellow Chilean, Juan Antonio Sanchez. For this last part, he began with Raimundin (Little Raymond), followed by El Plazo del Angel (The Term of an Angel), and aptly ended with Tonada Por Despedida (Farewell Tonada). The three scores sounded like reminiscenses captured in the romance and ruminant luminance of guitar. Expectedly, though, there is much nostalgia and melancholia felt especially in the very last piece that Quiroga played. This is expected of tonada, which is a folk music style that Chile is also known for. This somehow captures the mindset of the Chilean people molded by their history and cultural experience.
Quiroga came to visit the Philippines on a quick concert tour before he goes on to participate in the Tarrega Malaysia International Classical Guitar Festival slated on the 13th to the 16th of August. Quiroga’s brief concert tour in the Philippines and his participation to the festival in Malaysia are under a grant awarded by the Chilean National Council of Culture and Arts.
The concert at the Basilica is organized by the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc. (BASTECON) through the efforts of Ms. Tina Paterno (BASTECON Executive Director) and Mr. Joey Vargas (Artistic Director of SSC-R Manila Center for Culture and the Arts), supported by Rev. Fr. Rene Paglinawan, OAR (Prior, San Sebastian Basilica Parish) andRev. Fr. Antonio Zabala, OAR (Parish Priest and Shrine Rector).
[N.B.: Concert photos were taken by Julius Vincent Barrientos.]