Roberto Perera was born in 1952 in Montevideo, Uruguay. His romance with the Paraguayan harp can be traced all the way back to 1964 when the 12-year-old aspiring musician enrolled at the Conservatory of Modern Music in his hometown of Montevideo the capital city of Uruguay.
His multicultural beginnings not doubt played a part in his decision to embrace the 36-string Paraguayan harp and transform the native Indoamerican instrument to incorporate the influences of Latin, pop, jazz, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music styles. “The Paraguayan harp was considered an instrument merely to play folk music,” says Perera.
His complex technique includes precisely bending the strings to create sharps and flats, while gliding across the harp in a seemingly effortless fashion, giving little indication of the tremendous skill and discipline that’s required.
Roberto Perera’s professional career did not begin until 1973. After completing his course of musical studies, Perera moved to the United States in search of wider musical opportunities.
Perera’s point of entry was New York City, where he worked before moving south to Florida. Miami had a burgeoning Latin music scene at the time and Roberto quickly gained status as one of the hot musicians around town.
By the time his self-produced debut Erotica was released by Epic Records in 1990 (re-released by Heads Up in 1997) Perera had already earned a reputation as a pioneer of the electro-acoustic harp.
Perera began his association with Heads Up International in 1991 with the release of Passion, Illusions & Fantasies an album which received overwhelming critical acclaim throughout the Americas and Europe.
The following year Perera released Christmas Fantasies. On his three subsequent releases for Heads Up: Seduction (1994) Harp & Soul (1996) and In the Mood (2000) Perera continued to explore the lush musical landscapes.
“My goal has always been to approach the harp in an unorthodox manner – to stylistically play ideas not normally associated with the instrument,” Perera says. “About the time I started playing harp the Beatles were very popular. I listened to a lot of Brazilian music pop from the U.S. tango and folk music. What I really liked was the folk music from Paraguay and soon started mixing using the techniques of folk music to play Beatles tunes.”
Erotica (Epic Records 1990/re-released by Heads Up International in 1997)
Passion, Illusions & Fantasies (OXCD 313 1991)
Dreams and Desires (OXCD 318 1992)
Seduction (Heads Up International, 1994)
Christmas Fantasies (Heads Up International, 1993)
Harp & Soul (Heads Up International, 1996)
In the Mood (Heads Up International, 2000)
Sensual (Heads Up International, 2002)
Magical (Heads Up International, 2010)
Creation (Heads Up Records, 2007)
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.