Interview: New Faces – Morgan Szymanski

New Faces: Morgan Szymanski
A superb classical guitarist who started out playing everything.

By Ivan Hewett
 Published: 1:00PM BST 29 Jul 2010

Who is he?

A superb classical guitarist, just turned 30, who leads his own chamber group, Machaca, and has played everywhere from the Wigmore Hall to Beijing.
With a name like that he must have an interestingly mixed background.
Yes, but not the one you might imagine. His father is Mexican and his mother is Scottish.

Does this show in his music?
The Mexican part certainly does. “A lot of my musical influences are Latin-American. I used to listen to traditional and folk guitar a lot. In Mexico, folk music is still firmly in people’s ears, and it’s also there in the classical music I play by Mexican composers, such as Chavez and Ponce.?

Did he start out as a folk guitarist?
He started out playing everything – pop, folk and classical. “But my mum was very clever. She said I could play my electric guitar only after I had played my classical pieces first. I owe a lot to my mum: she sent me to the National Music School in Mexico.

Who inspired him in those days?
The great Andrés Segovia above all, because “he was the one who really put the guitar on the map. Before him, it hardly existed as a solo instrument. But I also listened a lot to Julian Bream and John Williams. As a kid in Mexico, I never imagined I would one day play duets with John Williams at the Wigmore Hall.?

How did he end up in London?
Through a route that led first to the Edinburgh Music School (“because it had a very good pop course alongside the classical course?) and then to the Royal College of Music in London.

The guitar’s repertoire is pretty limited. Isn’t that a problem?
“The guitar is a young instrument in the classical world, so it’s important for players to get composers interested in writing pieces for us.?

Will he stay in the UK?
“London is a wonderful place musically, but I can’t stand the winters. One day I would like to settle in Mexico.?
Morgan Szymanski tours with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields in September. His new album, ‘Los Ambulantes’, with the ensemble Machaca is on the Sarabande label.

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