The great jazz pianist and composer Leo Blanco on Clara Rodríguez Bolívar Hall Concert Series

In a one London concert before touring Scotland this marvellous Venezuelan jazz pianist and composer will play on Thursday 20th June at 7.30 pm at The Bolívar Hall.

Tickets:£10.00 from

Leo Blanco is a Venezuelan pianist, arranger and composer. Leo grew up in Mérida-Venezuela, where from early age he was surrounded by Venezuelan folklore – a blend of African and European musical traditions– as well as jazz, classical music and pop. At the age of 11 he already was a member of the Mérida Youth Symphony Orchestra.


After moving to Caracas at the age of 16 he performed and recorded with his own Jazz trio, while studying Improvisation, jazz harmony and piano at the musical Institute “Ars Nova” and University of Musical Studies. Soon he started working with very well-known jazz and Latin pop national artists. There, he shared the stage with major international jazz artist such as Terence Blanchard, Danilo Perez, Pat Metheny, Chucho Valdez (Irakere), Joao Bosco, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.


His interest in world music and jazz took him to Boston in 1996, where he obtained a full scholarship to study composition and improvisation in both Berklee and then New England Conservatory.  In March 1996, Leo was the first Latin American to win the prestigious “Boston Jazz Society Award”, and in May of the same year, he received the Billboard Grant Award for his “talent, commitment, achievement and other attributes indicating that he is likely to make a significant contribution to society through music. He was also commissioned to write a new piece “End of the Amazonia”  for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra


He has played with highly acclaimed artists such as Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses, Dave Samuels, Jamey Haddad, Antonio Sanchez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jane Bunnett.


In the international arena, Leo has been a guest of renowned World Music and Jazz Festivals, such as Newport Jazz Festival (USA), Monterey Jazz Festival (USA), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Edinburgh’s International Festival (Scotland), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Kobe Jazz Festival (Japan), Festival de Música (Brazil), Festival Latino Americano (Italy), Festival Latino (Italy), Festival Tentarera (Germany), Music Festival de Paleo (Switzerland).


Blanco’s most recent Album CD is “AFRICA LATINA’ on the European label Ayva with notable musicians like saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Antonio Sánchez and guitarist Lionel Louke, among others. This new recording is “an excursion through the music hinterland of African music influenced on Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.”


Leo Blanco is a pianist who has mastered the bebop lexicon while also paying homage to the rhythms of his nation’s folk music.”
– The Stage, London, England

“In Leo Blanco’s music I hear memory and desire – both his meticulous ear for the varieties of South American tradition”
– Christopher Lydon, NPR U.S.

“When you listen to Leo play it just blows you away while motivates you. He just inspires and gives you new sensations”…..
World Pianist and Composer Danilo Perez (Wayne Shorter)

“It is some of the most fresh and moving music I’ve heard in a long time. Leo Blanco has a gift for melody and his playing is just as special”
-Donald Brown (Master pianist: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) 

Tickets:£10.00 from 1

Liszt B minor Sonata – Hard Core Romanticism on the 6th June at the Bolívar Hall

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) once said, “My sole ambition as a composer is to hurl my javelin into the infinite space of the future.”

As always, I am enjoying working on the powerful work, Liszt B minor Sonata, a challenge!:

“Not only are its four movements rolled into one, but they are themselves composed against a background of a full-scale sonata scheme—exposition, development, and recapitulation. That is, Liszt has composed a sonata across a sonata…. the material is constantly making contributions to two sonata forms simultaneously.” This immense experiment in form was unprecedented. Liszt had achieved his goal of living in the rarefied zone of Beethoven himself.

He completed the sonata on Feb. 2, 1853, the year Teresa Carreño was born, I am starting the programme with Mi Teresita Waltz followed by El diablo suelto by Heraclio Fernández who died the same year as Liszt! Fun!

In 1855 Liszt’s pupil Karl Klindworth gave Richard Wagner a private recital in London. The next day, Wagner wrote to the composer, “Dearest Franz, You were with me, the sonata is beautiful beyond compare; great, sweet, deep and noble, sublime as you are yourself.”I prefer not to include here Clara Schumann’s comment on the work…

The English critic Cecil Gray wrote, “The essence of his art, consists in a sadness, a melancholy, a disillusion, a despair, of a depth and intensity unequaled, perhaps, in all music”

I would add elegance, defiance, triumphalism.

Off to practice!Image

WAR OF THE ROMANTICS LISZT VERSUS BRAHMS Clara Rodriguez, piano Jordan Gregoris, cello


Franz Liszt




Clara Rodríguez Bolívar Hall Concert Series

Thursday 6th June 2013 at 7.30 pm


Mi Teresita Waltz – Teresa Carreño (1853-1916)

El diablo suelto – Heraclio Fernández (1851-1886) Arr.Pedro Toro

Au bord d’une source and  Sonata in B minor   Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


                                               Sonata in G minor No 1   Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

                                                 Allegro non troppo- Allegretto quasi Menuetto- Allegro

                                                     Le Grand Tango      Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)

It’s such a privilege to be able to play these wonderful pieces of music on the 6th June at London’s Bolivar Hall, really  looking forward to it!


Johannes Brahms

Clara Rodriguez and Jordan Gregoris rehearsing at The Bolivar Hall