La Comparsa -version by Clara Rodriguez, Efrain Oscher, Gabriel Leon, Cristobal Soto and Wilmer Sifontes

Come to The Bolivar Hall on June 20th 2013 to listen to the Latin American quintet live!!!
Tickets from:

Clara Rodriguez is one of the most distinguished of the present generation of international artists and has often been described as an Ambassador of her homeland music. Her programmes have consistently contrasted traditional classical music with the output of South American composers.

Since coming to London at the age of 16, to study at the Royal College of Music with Phyllis Sellick, she has performed extensively as a soloist at Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre, St John’s Smith Square and Saint Martin-In-The-Fields as well as touring in Europe, India, Egypt, North Africa and South America.

She has commissioned and premièred many works including Federico Ruiz’s Second Piano Concerto which she recorded with the Orquesta Municipal de Caracas.

Clara Rodriguez founded and directed the San Martin Music Festival of Caracas from 1993 to 1997.

She has recorded and produced CDs of works by Frédéric Chopin, Moisés Moleiro, Federico Ruiz, Teresa Carreño, and Ernesto Lecuona. Her latest productions are Venezuela for the Nimbus label and El Cuarteto y Clara Rodriguez en vivo– Caracas. They are consistently played on BBC Radio 3 and networks worldwide.

Clara Rodriguez teaches the piano at the JD of the Royal College of Music.

“The Venezuelan virtuoso pianist Clara Rodriguez” The Daily Telegraph

 “This music needs an empathetic spirit to show it to its best advantage and Clara Rodriguez provides performances of alluring vivacity allied to that most essential of requisites-CHARM. Highly recommended”

Jeremy Nicholas. Gramophone

What a treat was in store for the gratifyingly large audience at the Purcell Room last autumn. There was a pianist of rare quality to meet us with grace of demeanour and palpable pleasure in her very special brand of musicianship. Her name? Clara Rodríguez; not a newcomer, but one whose return to the Southbank had been rightly anticipated with eagerness by former admirers. And why is she so special? She can and does play softly, with a range of nuance between pianissimo and mezzoforte of rare subtlety, of the kind which makes the music steal upon the ear like vibrations from another world. The evening produced an unforgettable spell of unsullied beauty

Musical opinion, London

“Clara Rodriguez plays the music from South America like no other pianist, with a marvellous sense of phrasing, poetry and sparkling dynamism. This music belongs to her” Arioso International. Saint Quentin. France

A poet of the piano; if I was a pianist I would like to play my pieces the way she does” Antonio Estevez.

Flutist Efrain Oscher was born in Uruguay and was raised in Venezuela where he began to learn the flute in “El Sistema” organization aged 18. At the age of 25 he became principal flute of the Valencia Municipal Orchestra.
In 2003 he finished with Merit a postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music under the legendary British flautist William Bennett.
While in England, Efrain appeared at the Bath International Festival and the English Chamber Orchestra Young Artist Series.
He currently lives in Germany and leads the Bolivar Soloists with whom he recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon the CD ¡México!  with tenor Rolando Villazon, followed by Mexican and European tours.
Efrain is also in much demand as a composer and arranger. His works have been
performed and recorded across Europe and Venezuela by Edicson Ruiz, Pacho Flores, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper.

Cristóbal Soto was born in Paris and was initiated in Venezuelan traditional music by his family. A self-taught composer, cuatrist, guitarist and mandolin player, he settled in Venezuela between 1974 and 1996, there he founded several groups of instrumental Venezuelan music including Ensamble Gurrufío, Recoveco, Cañón contigo as well as “La Clavija”, a school of traditional and folk music. He has also performed with famous Venezuelan singers such as Simón Díaz, Maria Teresa Chacín and Serenata Guayanesa amongst many others.

From a waltz to a merengue, from a polka to a contra-dance or a joropo, Cristóbal Soto seems to keep pushing back the boundaries of the mandolin, making us discover, through his numerous recordings and concerts, the richness of Venezuelan music. Cristóbal Soto has created ensembles in Paris where he now lives: “Fanfare La Tina”, “Venezuela Crónica” and “La Papayera”. He also teaches and writes articles on Venezuelan and Latin American music.


Gabriel León was born in Caracas into a family with a long history of bass players. He trained at the Simón Bolívar Conservatory, entered the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela at the very early age of 17 and at 19 won a scholarship to study at the Reyna Sofia Conservatorio of Madrid with Rainer Zepperitz and Antonio Garcia Araque. He has been invited to play and tour with orchestras such as the Gustav Mahler Jungend Orchester under Claudio Abbado. He has also played chamber music concerts with members of the Berlin Philharmonic and as a soloist with Venezuelan orchestras.

His multifaceted talent stretches from the Baroque period to funk and rock music. In Bilbao, Spain; he has created several bands, Descenso, Luis Azul and El Exceceso and has just produced his first pop CD. In Classical music he has participated in productions for labels such as SONY, Deutsche Grammophon (¡México!) and EMI.

He is a member of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra since 2002.

London based Wilmer Sifontes is a renowned Venezuelan percussionist who specializes in traditional Venezuelan music and salsa. He has been living in London since 1996 where he has founded the salsa band Conjunto Sabroso and the ensemble ‘Afro-American Project’. With his salsa band he has backed international stars such as Adalberto Santiago (Fania), Maelo Ruiz and Willie Gonzalez. He has played in prestigious international festivals such as: WOMAD, Rhythm Sticks, the North Sea Jazz, Beijing International Festival ,La Linea, Kijani Kenya Festival, Interfolk Festival (Spain), VI Festival de Música Ximena de La Frontera (Spain 2006-2010), He also featured as guest percussionist with the Scottish International band Salsa Celtica in two world tours.



Clara Rodriguez and Friends  Concert review |
“London-based Venezuelan pianist Clara Rodriguez and friends brought the heady and exotic rhythms and sounds of South America to a windy Southbank in a delightfully relaxed concert of chamber music at the Purcell Room.

Clara opened the concert with a passionate and dramatic performance of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ ‘Impressoes seresteira’ (Impressions of a serenade musician), the second movement of his Ciclo Brasileiro , and a piece which suggests a “latin Rachmaninov” with its sweeping climaxes and soulful melodies. Afterwards, the friends, all fellow Venezuelans, joined Clara on the stage – flautist Efrain Oscher, guitarist Christobal Soto, bass player Gabriel Leon, and percussionist Wilmer Sifontes – and Clara explained that the pieces to be performed would take us on a musical journey “from Cuba to Argentina”. With evocative titles such as ‘A fuego lento’, ‘Mananita pueblerina’, ‘O voo mosca’ (“the flying fly”), and ‘Romance de Barrio’, and emcompassing genres such as Samba, Tango and Merengue, the music was by turns lively and foot-tapping, lilting and dancing, plaintive and haunting, humorous and witty, earthy and energetic. As the musicians, clearly good friends and music partners, settled into the performance, there was a wonderful sense of a shared experience: this was music for friends, performed by friends, amongst friends. The audience responded with enthusiasm, cheering and whistling, clapping loudly after each piece.

From the tragic Argentinian samba ‘Alfonsina y el mar’ (Ariel Ramirez), a tribute to Alfonsina Stormi, who committed suicide in 1938 by jumping into the Mar del Plata, through a spirited ‘Joropo’ (a Venezuelan folk waltz) by Moises Moleiro, ‘Caramba’, a tender and emotional “protest song” by a jilted lover, to Piazzola’s iconic piano tango ‘Adios Nonino’, written as a tribute to his dead grandfather, and a rousing and entertaining closing number ‘Capullito de Aleli’, by Puerto Rican Rafael Hernandez, the music, beautifully and expressively played, vividly brought to life the colours, sights and sounds of South America. At times, we could easily have been enjoying a chilled mint tea in a café in Havana in the 1930s, taking in the potent and emotionally charged atmosphere of a Buenos Aires tango bar, or enjoying a lazy Caipirinha overlooking the beach at Rio. Infectious syncopated rhythms from the percussion, the haunting strains of the flute, the flamenco-like strum of the guitar or mandolin, an elegant and vibrant piano, which, despite being a full-size concert Steinway, never dominated, this was music to savour – smoky and sensual, excitable, racy, heartfelt, hypnotic, buoyant and vibrant. For a few hours, at least, it was as if we were all on holiday together”

Frances Wilson for Bachtrack

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