Ana Alcaide is a Spanish multi-instrumentalist, composer and music producer who carries out research on ancient traditions and cultures.
At the age of seven she took up classical violin and began her lifelong journey in music. She studied at the Getafe Conservatory of Music (Madrid province) and later at Lund University (Sweden).
She has received formal scientific and musical training in several countries (Spain, Sweden and Mexico) and holds a biology degree with a specialization in botany from the Complutense University in Madrid.
Her investigative spirit has led her to carry out a wide range of projects, including the study of mushrooms found in the Baja California Desert and the filming of bird nests in Scandinavian forests. It is this same determination that fuels her desire to research ancient musical instruments and repertoires.
After being awarded a biology scholarship in 2000, Ana traveled to Sweden where she first laid hands on the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish instrument that dates from medieval times. Attracted by the complexity and depth of its sound, Ana taught herself how to play the nyckelharpa on the streets of Toledo (Spain), far from its traditional setting.
In 2005 she returned to Sweden to further pursue her music studies and to specialize in this Swedish folk instrument. During this time she was also influenced by other musical traditions and began studying other instruments and vocal techniques.
She graduated from Malmö Academy of Music (Bachelor in Performing Arts) after successfully completing an individualized program (Individual Project) in which she focused on world music, combining her interest in traditional music with the study of more modern techniques. This has allowed her to construct her own path as both a performer and a composer.
As a result of her profound connection and experimentation with the nyckelharpa, Ana published her debut album Viola de Teclas in 2006. She has played a pioneering role in introducing and popularizing the nyckelharpa in Spain.
Her second album, Como la luna y el sol, was the result of the final degree project she completed while at the Malmö Academy of Music. This album offers listeners Ana’s unique vision of traditional Sephardic music.
In late 2009 she compiled her first three years of work on the DVD Ana Alcaide en concierto, which was filmed in a historic Jewish temple (Synagogue of ‘El Tránsito’ – Toledo, Spain) alongside her usual collaborators.
In 2012, after taking time off to have her first child, Ana released her third album, La cantiga del fuego. Composed during her pregnancy, this album marks a major turning point in her professional and personal life. La cantiga del fuego is inspired by the ancient Sephardic traditions with stories about impossible love between Jews and Christians, ancient Toledo legends and the exile voyages of the Sephardim.
Ana has been able to balance her studies and music projects with her life in Toledo, where she decided to settle in 2001 to resume her music studies. This city where Christians, Jews and Muslims used to live in harmony is a daily source of inspiration for Ana and greatly influences her music, which is commonly described as the ‘Toledo Soundtrack’.
La cantiga del fuego reached the top of the World Music Charts Europe in 2012. Originally a self-release, the album was picked up by British label ARC Music for international release.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.