Artist Profiles: Juan Carmona

Juan Carmona

His family name is Carmona, like his distant cousins the Habichuelas dynasty of Granada, all guitarists. His ancestors were blacksmiths in Malaga, however his branch of the family emigrated to North Africa. In 1963, he was born in Lyon, France.

Juan was barely 10 when his father gave him his first guitar. His virtuosity became quickly apparent to professional musicians and it was only a matter of time before he began gathering international acclaim. He obtained his degree as a concert musician, awarded by the celebrated National Conservatory of Music in Paris and, at the age of 26, became the first professor of flamenco guitar in France holding a state-awarded diploma.

Juan Carmona soon felt the urge to return to the land of his ancestors, to go back to his roots and imbibe again at the family spring: Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia. He had a personal challenge: to revive recognition of the originality of his art in the town considered as the cradle of flamenco. And the wager was won: for more than eight years, he rubbed elbows with and accompanied some of the greatest names in flamenco, all the while immersing himself in their talents: singers Agujetas, Duquende, Terremoto hijo, Rubichi, Antonio and Manuel Malenas, Jesus Monje (brother of Camaron de la Isla), Jose Mendez, dancers Joaquín Grilo, Ana Parrilla, Angelita Vargas … and recorded with Moraito, Rubem Dantas, Niño de Pura, Manolito Soler, Tino di Geraldo, and Chano Dominguez.

In 1988, he was awarded first prize in the Jerez de la Frontera International Competition, and was a finalist in the Union and Cordoba Guitar Competition. In 1989, he obtained a diploma from the Jerez Flamenco Foundation, awarded by guitarist Manolo Sanlúcar. In 1990, he won the Villa Médicis Hors Les Murs award, the Don Antonio Chacon trophy awarded by his “peña flamenca” (flamenco fan cliub), and in 1992 the Lavoisier award. Finally, in 1994, he achieved the ultimate laureate: first prize in the Madrid Paco de Lucia Competition.

Besides his many concert achievements, awards and relationships in the guitar world, this French-born gipsy can add a further distinction: permanent triumph in Spain, particularly in Andalusia where he created upheaval in the world of flamenco. His sojourn is Spain gave birth to his recording “Borboreo” (sending waves through the music world in 1996) in tribute to the city of Jerez, and “Entre dos barrios”, with singer Jose Mendez and guitarist Moraito Chico.

Juan Carmona

Since his return to France in 1996, Juan Carmona has known an endless series of recordings and concert engagements. He worked with a fabulous stream of musicians representing a wide range of musical genres: Birili Lagren, Babik Rheinhart, Larry Corriel, Philip Catherin, Christian Escoudé, Raphael Fays, Louis Winsberg, to name just a few in the area of jazz; Subramanian and the Chemirani family in Indian and Iranian music singer Matlubeth (Uzbekistan); and participation in numerous film scores, (La belle Histoire, Cuisines et Dépendances, Sables Mouvants). Juan Carmona set up his own group: Juan Carmona Grupo, staging shows throughout France and abroad, forging himself an international musical career: USA, Germany, Italy, England, Morocco, Switzerland, Portugal, in addition to performances in major music conferences such as Midem (1996) and Womex (1997). A program was devoted to him on the Franco-German channel Arte in October 1998, presented by the maestro Lord Yehudi Menuhin, who considered Carmona to be an outstanding guitarist.

Discography:

Borboreo (Le Chant du Monde, 1996)
Falla Lorca (L’empreinte digitale, 1997)
Entre dos barrios (L’empreinte digitale, 1997)
Antes (L’empreinte digitale, 1998)
Cosa de Dos (L’empreinte digitale, 1999)
Caminos Nuevos (Le Chant du Monde, 2000)
Orillas (Le Chant du Monde, 2002)
Sinfonia Flamenca (Le Chant du Monde, 2006)
El Sentido del Aire (Le Chant du Monde, 2010)
Alchemya (World Village, 2013)
Perla de Oriente, Nomades Kultur, 2016)

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.

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