Berklee's MMI and Iberia Take Paco de Lucía's Guitar on Tour and Create Documentary, Scholarship

Kimberly Ashton
June 28, 2016
Farru (Antonio Fernández Montoya) dances at a celebration of the project La Guitarra Vuela.
Tali Rubinstein '14 plays the recorder at a concert celebrating La Guitarra Vuela in an Iberia hangar in Madrid.
José del Tomate (José Fernandez), the 17-year-old son of Tomatito; Layth Al-Rubaye '14; and Diego del Morao rehearse for the La Guitarra Vuela concert.
Berklee President Roger H. Brown speaks at a celebration of the La Guitarra Vuela project.
Codirectors Jorge Martínez and Javier Limón talk about the La Guitarra Vuela project at the premiere of the documentary about it.
Diego Carrasco, guest singer, performs.
Musicians and others involved in the La Guitarra Vuela project and concert.
The Iberia hangar in Madrid features a plane of the same model of that to be named the Paco de Lucía.
"La Maestro," the guitar that flew to nine countries to sound Paco de Lucía's music.
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
Eva Marques
courtesy of Iberia

When Paco de Lucía '10H, the man many consider the greatest flamenco guitarist in history, suddenly died of a heart attack two years ago, the music of his many custom-made guitars fell silent as well. One in particular was just coming into the world as master luthier Antonio Morales brought it through its final stages of development. It was this one that de Lucía hoped to take on tour, but he died before he could sound the guitar’s first flamenco cry.

This winter, after two years of stillness, the guitar took that tour. Named “La Maestro” (“The Master”) in honor of de Lucía, it flew around the world, visiting the places that influenced de Lucía and was played by those he influenced.

The project, called La Guitarra Vuela (The Guitar Flies), was produced by Javier Limón of Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute in cooperation with Iberia airlines, which sponsored not only the trip but a documentary about it and two full scholarships for guitarists from Spain or Latin America to attend Berklee’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program.

On June 21, Iberia hosted a press screening of the feature-length documentary, codirected by Limón and Jorge Martínez. At an evening event at one of Iberia's hangars in Madrid, Berklee President Roger H. Brown and Limón briefly spoke about the film before several top flamenco musicians, many of whom had played with de Lucía, as well as Berklee alumni, played an hour-long concert in celebration of the project.

Watch a clip from the La Guitarra Vuela documentary:


“Paco de Lucía took flamenco to the world and was the first Spanish artist to be honored by Berklee with an honorary doctorate. This documentary is a tribute to this great master…but it also has a great educational element, allowing viewers to discover the relationship between flamenco and folklore music from places like Mexico, Bogotá, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires,” Limón said.

La Maestro started its journey in Madrid this February and then headed to:

Nacho Gonzalez, a jazz composition major who graduated from Berklee in May, was one of the few musicians to get to play the guitar in Boston. "The instrument itself was simply magic. I never played a guitar that had the response and dynamics of that. The sound was projected all over the room," he said. "Apart from all the technical aspects, it was a magical moment to play my own music in the instrument from someone who you admired all your life."

The entire trip took 40 days and spanned 21,383 miles. The documentary capturing the trip will be available on Iberia flights starting July 1, and a Boston showing is planned. 

As part of the project, Iberia created the Paco de Lucía Scholarship, in which the airline will pay tuition as well as transportation and housing costs for two students—one this year and one the next—to attend the Five-Week program. This year's winner is Juan Cabezon Oppici, a 15-year-old guitarist from Madrid who has played the instrument since he was 9 years old, performing in several local concerts.