This project was started in 2010 by the American pilgrim Federico Sheppard. It is an international project in which professional artists of the classical guitar from all over the world come as volunteers and bring their music to the Camino. Also, the audience comes from every corner of the world and thoroughly enjoys the concerts. We are settled at the heart of the Camino de Santiago in Carrión de los Condes, Palencia.
This is a unique opportunity for exchange. We show our cultural heritage in Castilla-León to artists, and through them we bring to life the exquisite works written for the guitar, the most beautiful Spanish instrument, to the Camino and all the people involved.
Both guitarists and singers are willing to come and have a complete experience in Spain and on the Camino Association CaminoArtes. The non-profit association acts as an ambassador for the Camino and the guitar, showing the invited musicians different aspects of our culture and offering them an experience of immersion in our country. The dream of numerous guitarists in the world is to perform in Spain. They enjoy offering their repertoires, learning about the Camino and if they wish, also learning the language by driving around the area in Palencia, Castilla-León or visiting other interesting areas like the Pyrenees, Navarra, Rioja, Picos de Europa or Galicia.
One of the key reasons for success of the music and art at the Camino is the fact that there are new audiences every day. New walkers and tourists come to visit and discover the treasures of the magnificent Romanesque churches in the area. When they arrive they find there is a pleasant surprise for them, a high quality unexpected concert …and free!
The audience is international. Many pilgrims and music lovers come from every corner of the world. Right from the beginning the inhabitants of towns and villages have been grateful for the opportunity to listen to live guitar music. The project has been well received and the guitar concerts are integrated as part of the daily lives in this remote international corridor, where hundreds of pilgrims travel every day.
In recent years, we have celebrated between 3-5 concerts every week during the months of May through September in different locations in the provinces of Palencia, Frómista, Villalcázar de Sirga, Carrión de los Condes, Moratinos and the town of Palencia. To announce the concerts we use signs or blackboards at the entrance of the churches. The signs announce the specific artist. All the concerts are free, but donations are appreciated.
Each one of the artists remains in the province for about 2 weeks and they perform in the organised venues. The artists choose their programmes according to their preferences or their repertoire which allows us to present a great variety of styles and enjoy the pieces written by composers from the American continent and from Europe.
Among them, we listen to classics like Bach and more modern ones like Agustín Barrios Mangoré and the others like Carlo Dominicone. The works also include new compositions which we have premiered. In 2013 and 2014 we premiered the two movements of Recuerdos del Camino by Jorge Morel and in 2015 it was the turn for Pilgrims of the Camino by Bryan Johanson. Our artists also include pieces of the traditional Spanish repertoire usually more familiar. They introduce the pieces and describe them briefly at every concert.
Our artists consist of professional guitarists from several important conservatories and universities, and on occasion their students. The residency nature of the program allows these artists to have a cultural immersion, study Spanish, and take a break from their busy concert schedule to study new works and hone their concert programs. Our scheduling also allows for travel to remote areas of the province during the artists’ residency.
We encourage young artists to take part in our programme either as soloists or in groups, guitar-voice, guitar-violin, guitar-flute-violin or others.
Federico Sheppard and the musicians working as volunteers with Asociación CaminoArtes are seriously working on the 5 elements for the renaissance of a new musical culture on the Camino de Santiago:
-Bringing tools and wood to build musical instruments.
-Looking for audiences in front of which young artists will improve their performance.
-Organizing training during the summer holidays.
-Bringing the new compositions for the guitar to life.
-Recording many of the concerts for distribution.
We are trying to create new opportunities both for the composers, and also for already recognized artists and for young guitarists who wish to take their career seriously. In fact this is an extraordinary way to increase musical culture and tourism in Castilla-León.