World-Influenced Flamenco Guitarist “Finds His Voice” on Debut CD
“I don't know if it's because my parents are Spanish but I really feel connected to this type of music. When I went to Spain in 1995 for my first flamenco guitar workshop, I felt like I was actually coming home...”
As a young Canadian teenager, Nicolás’ musical influences leaned heavily toward the classic rock style of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. When he was 17 years old, his Spanish-born parents moved the family from British Columbia, Canada back to Spain for a year. As fate would have it, a flamenco guitarist playing for spare change in the streets of Santa Cruz, Tenerife in the Canary Islands caught his attention. The rich sound of what seemed like three guitars emanated from the solo instrument and at once Nicolás knew that this was what the guitar was invented for. Captivated by the exquisite chords, syncopated rhythms and intensity of emotion the guitar conveyed, Nicolás resolved to dedicate himself solely to the art of flamenco.
After returning to Canada he attended the University of British Columbia, and by 1988 had earned his B.Sc. degree in Honors Chemistry. Nicolás moved to Toronto to begin his formal flamenco guitar studies at the David Phillips Flamenco Guitar School. Working during the day as a chemist, his nights were focused on performing both solo guitar and dance accompaniment under the guidance of the late David Phillips who arranged the music of Granada and Malaguena for The First Lady of the Guitar, Liona Boyd. Nicolás also studied with some of Spain’s master flamenco guitarists, perfecting the art of playing concert level solo guitar pieces and accompanying singers and dancers.
By 1996 Nicolás had become the Music Director for the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company. Today, not only is he an integral musician in their performances, he composes original works for the group, all the while continuing to blend flamenco with other ethnic music styles he discovers in multicultural Toronto. For example, his versatile guitar work added a flamenco flavor to the Toronto Tabla Ensemble on the Juno-nominated CD entitled Firedance, which was released in 1999. A much sought-after flamenco guitarist, Nicolás is often invited to perform live in concert and to teach master workshops throughout Canada and the United States. He has even written flamenco music for a television commercial!
Nicolás’ career has granted him remarkable opportunities to accompany top world music artists such as Juno award winners Kiran Ahluwalia, Sonia Collymore and Jesse Cook. He is currently a touring member of Jesse Cook's band. Nicolás can be heard on Cook's live CD entitled Montreal, as well as on Sonia Collymore's Juno award-winning album WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). He has also accompanied famous international flamenco dancers including Manolete, La Tati, and Andrés Marín.
With 25 years of experience under his fingers, Nicolás’ style has evolved into a distinctive, modern “voice” — a fascinating fusion of his flamenco training and his explorative work outside this traditional form. World music tones weave through his composition Raga por Bulerias, an innovative piece based on a scale from the Indian Raga Jhinjhotti.
“I like working with other music genres and learning about them. It always feels like I'm learning from scratch again, and I like that feeling of being outside the box,” says Nicolás.
The title track of his debut album Buscando mi voz is Nicolás’ first full composition. The piece was strongly influenced and inspired by the teachings of renowned master flamenco guitarist Manolo Sanlucar, who supported Nicolás in his quest to “find his voice”.
Nicolás lives in Maple, Ontario, Canada with his wife and daughter.