Two Distinct Performances in honor of Rey de la Torre commemorate this Historic Event and the legacy that was begun by Irma Wassall.
His busy touring schedule has taken him through New York's Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall to Korea's Ho Ham Hall, Los Angeles' Ambassador Auditorium, Madrid's Teatro Real and Zaragoza's Palacio Real, to his native Colombia's National Library, Luis Angel Arango, among hundreds of others. Cobo's versatility can be heard in his award-winning solo recordings of classical and children's music, his orchestral and crossover recordings and in hundreds of credits for commercial releases world-wide. His diverse and innovative programming ranges from solo concerti with orchestra to historical chamber settings as well as Tango and Flamenco dance ensembles to Latin and world music concerts.
Widely regarded as one of the leading virtuosos of the new Classic Guitar generation, Ricardo Cobo gave his professional debut with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá at age seventeen on a nationwide telecast for an audience of over nine million people. Celebrated for his passionate and mesmerizing performances worldwide, he is in high demand as soloist, chamber musician, lecturer and recording artist.
Born in the City of Cali, Colombia, Ricardo Cobo is the son of Lebanese immigrants who came to the Americas looking for a new life during the first half of the 20th century. His mother, a classical pianist and avid visual artist, taught him to play and read music as a child. His father, a brilliant surgeon who founded the first university school of medicine in Colombia, was a devoted concertgoer and lover of classical music. He instilled a fascination for guitar music in his young son while studying for his surgeries, which he prepared while listening to long hours of Flamenco and classical recordings.
The young Cobo began guitar lessons at the age of 8, playing on a twenty-dollar souvenir guitar his uncle brought back as a gift from Brazil. Both parents were taken by surprise when the young guitarist quickly outpaced his lessons and was admitted to the Antonio María Valencia Conservatory just shy of his 13th birthday. He graduated on scholarship and was immediately accepted to the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore (USA), where he began to work with the renown pedagogue, Aaron Shearer. He graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and later pursued postgraduate studies with Bruce Holzman at Florida State University where he was a three-time Doctoral Fellow.
While completing his studies in the United States, Mr. Cobo earned consecutive first prizes in several international competitions as well as a host of academic excellence awards and numerous scholarships. As the first Hispanic ever to win the highly coveted G.F.A. (Guitar Foundation of America) prize, Mr. Cobo embarked on a highly auspicious tour of over seventy American cities followed by debut appearances as soloist and recitalist through Europe, Ukraine and Asia. Equally in demand as chamber musician and soloist with orchestras, Cobo's busy touring schedule has taken him from New York's Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall to Korea's Ho Ham Hall, Los Angeles' Ambassador Auditorium, San Francisco's OMNI Foundation, Atlanta at Spivey Hall, Washington DC's Phillips Gallery, Madrid's Teatro Real, and Zaragoza's Palacio Real, to Venezuela's Teresa Carreño, and his native Colombia's National Library and Teatro Leon de Greiff, among hundreds of others.
Mr. Cobo's versatility can be heard in his award-winning solo recordings of classical and children's music - Tales for Guitar -ESSAY, Brouwer Solo Works-NAXOS and Guitar Lullaby- Ellipsis Arts, as well as his orchestral and crossover recordings in collaborations with jazz and classical musicians- Café 1930 with Marc Gould-Angel/EMI and Walking on the Water -ESSAY/Allegro. His Guitar Lullaby CD, currently on its third printing, was awarded the American Library Association's highest recognition for children's music as well as a Parent's Choice Award and is widely regarded as one of the finest classical guitar audio experiences on CD. The enormous success of the Lullaby series also showcases Cobo on Papa's Lullaby, Mediterranean Lullaby and Latin Lullaby. His world premiere recording of Leo Brouwer's Guitar Concertos 3 & 4 (ESSAY CD 1040) has been called "compelling- a recording that cannot be too highly recommended and will not be bettered for some time to come." -Fanfare. His most recent recording, Guitar Music From Latin America, is available on NAXOS (8.557 329) and includes Cobo's remarkable arrangements of Latin American standards. Soon to be released is Music for my Father, a performance of his late father's favorite guitar compositions including music of Villa-Lobos and Barrios.
His diverse and innovative programming ranges from solo concerti with orchestra to historical chamber settings as well as Tango and Flamenco dance ensembles to Latin and world music concerts. He has performed with the Orchestra Of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Meyerson Symphony Hall and the Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York with Richard Kapp on tour in Southern Europe and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; as part of the Tango Consort with Tango couples Sandor & Parissa, Armando & Daniella, and Francisco & Carolina; the Ballet Jazz of Montreal, U. of Hawaii's Guitar Summit with the Flying Pisanos and "Masters of the Acoustic Guitar" at Alice Tully Hall, to name a few.
Cobo's affinity and deep connection with Leo Brouwer's music is apparent in both his recordings and live performances under the composer's own baton. Cobo played the historic American Premiere of his Concerto de Toronto during the closing program at the Guitar Foundation of America's International Festival 2000 (read the review) with the San Antonio Symphony to critical acclaim. Cobo and Brouwer previously appeared as special guests with Les Violons du Roy performing his 3rd. Concerto at the Domaine Forget in Quebec as part of an all-Brouwer festival.
Equally in demand during the summer season, Mr. Cobo has performed in Germany's International Guitarrefestpiele in Nurtingen, Duquesne University's International Guitar Week in Pittsburgh, the National Guitar Workshop in Litchfield, the Alirio Díaz (1990, Gold Medal Winner) and Rodrigo Riera International Festivals in Venezuela, the International Festivals of Morelia, Tijuana, Culiacán, Saltillo, and Festival Paracho in Mexico, the Caramoor Festival in New York, Le Domaine Forget in Canada and most recently at Colorado's Strings in the Mountains. He has been guest Artist-in-residence at many universities including Temple University in Philadelphia, Stetson University in Florida, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, North Carolina School of the Arts and currently at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.
Decorated on numerous occasions by his country, Mr. Cobo was the first musician ever to be awarded the "Executive of the Year Award" by the Cámara Junior de Colombia, one the country's oldest and most prestigious professional organizations. He was decorated by his country with the "Order of Cañasgordas" and personally by the Mayor of Cali, with the "Order of Belalcazar" for outstanding Merit in cultural affairs.
Ricardo Cobo currently makes his home in Las Vegas where he teaches a thriving private studio. In his spare time he rides his mountain bike at dazzling speeds and frequently undertakes night hikes through the moonlit canyons of Zion.
"Mesmerizing...Cobo crafted each piece with skill and love. Sometimes fiery, other times sultry, the movements from Brouwer's "El Decameron Negro" were note-perfect essences of beauty."
-The Washington Post | Phillips Gallery
"His playing was impeccable, his performance style suave...had he wanted to, he could have set the stage ablaze with burst after burst of pyrotechnics. Both his virtuosity and his need to display it were things utterly under his control."
- ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
"Apart from the pleasures of technical bravura and musicality, the concert was a garden of seldom-heard delights. Colombia-born Cobo is a dynamic player who not only digs into passages of rhythmic verve and percussive ferocity but also plays close heed to the fine points of tonal color. He is a player who lays claim to the twin virtues of passion and clarity. To boot, he's on an admirable repertoire-expanding mission."
- LOS ANGELES TIMES | Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena
"Cobo exhibits a level of confidence and facility that few guitarists possess. He executes the most difficult passages almost effortlessly, and his lightness and brilliance in fast scale passages and effervescent arpeggios was dazzling. In addition, his sound was powerful and beautiful. He played with such conviction and feeling that one simply heard music - not 'twentieth century' music."
- Guitar Review | Merkin Hall, NYC
"...beginning with Bach's considerably challenging work, Cobo's commanding abilities and innate sense of musical contour quelled any doubts. His attention to details and refined sound propelled this work. The transparency of the fugue and fluid lyricism of the sarabande were compelling, as was the perfect execution of the difficult gigue."
- Kansas City Times
"Cobo's tone is velvet, his technique seems to have no limitations, and his guitar can be as big and brassy or as soft and expressive as he wishes."
-Soundboard Magazine | GFA Miami
"Colombian Guitarist Ricardo Cobo has nothing to worry about next to Bream and Williams. He plays the (Brouwer) concertos as if his own and meets every technical feat with an astonishing breadth of feeling. I don't care who the dedicatees are- these are definitive performances!"
-American Record Guide
"Ricardo Cobo's virtuosity is evident from the first notes. He skillfully weaves each phrase and hypnotizes his audience by combining energetic and precise execution with a bewitching sensitivity. He performed and deciphered arpeggios and scales as if he were singing the very heart of coherent sound."
-El Occidente | Clara Zawadsky
"Indeed Cobo set the bar so high that despair must have been as much of the package as inspiration for the students in the audience. Armed with a cup of coffee as well as his guitar, Cobo strode onstage clearly ready to melt nylon and mesmerize listeners. Graceful musicality was as evident as superhuman technique."
-Los Angeles Times | John Henken
"Performing Piazzolla Tangos in his opening, Cobo established a moody, sultry intimacy that drew the large audience into his personal aura, so beguiling was his playing. Cobo displayed his technical virtuosity and expressive artistry in thrilling performances of Roland Dyens' dazzling Hommages."
-THE HARTFORD COURANT | Wallace Stevens Theater
"Colombia-born Ricardo Cobo is an impeccable guitarist who never lets his technical fastidiousness impede the verve of the music. On the contrary, it is placed squarely at its service. One minute into La Muerte del Angel, Cobo seems to disappear, leaving only the unencumbered voice of Piazzolla."
-Fanfare Magazine | Wiliam Zagorsky
"Guest artist Ricardo Cobo's superb performance of Joaquin Rodrigo"s famous "Concierto de Aranjuez" shimmered with color... The melancholy passages of the second movement were beautiful beyond belief or the reviewers poor powers of description."
- THE EVANSVILLE PRESS