Although Agustín Barrios (1885-1944) was one of the greatest guitarist-composers of all time and without a doubt the greatest born in Latin America, he did not live to see his work receive public recognition. However, since 1977, when John Williams devoted an album entirely to his work, Barrios has earned an irrefutable place of honor in the global classical guitar community, where he is admired for the lyrical riches and technical demands of his vast body of work.
Berta Rojas, perhaps the foremost female classical guitarist in Latin America, is currently one of the best known interpreters of Barrios' canon. According to a review in the Washington Post, "When Berta is in at her best, there is no other living guitarist who can perform the music of Barrios better than she can." Her deep understanding of Barrios and his music comes from both her impeccable training as a classical musician and her frequent ventures into folk music styles, two facets that Barrios merged admirably in his work. Berta, like Barrios, was born in Paraguay. Does sharing a homeland contribute to her understanding? It seems to have done so; given the sense of belonging that is so essential to the authenticity that infuses her interpretation of his music.
As its name suggests, "In the Footsteps of Mangoré", follows Berta as she embraces the same itinerary as the great composer. A tireless traveler, Barrios left Paraguay on a journey that took him to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, French and British Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, ending in El Salvador in 1944. During his lifelong tour, Agustin Barrios created an alter ego for himself, going by the name “Nitsuga Mangoré” and performed in this persona in concert from 1930 to 1934 dressed in the garb of a Guarani Indian chief. It was an act of blatant rebellion against the contemporary norms of the refined circles of classical music, and one which earned him fierce criticism from the jealous guardians of the international code of concert etiquette. From a twenty-first century perspective, Barrios' behavior is indicative of his audacious nature, especially gifted at calling attention to his unique art as a musician.
The "In the Footsteps of Mangoré" tour will take place in three stages, opening in Montevideo, Uruguay and ending in El Salvador where Barrios would eventually pass away in 1944.
"In the Footsteps of Mangoré" is presented by Banco ITAÚ