‘TRIPLE THREAT’ BRINGS FLAMENCO FLAIR TO CLASSICAL GUITAR
ARTICLE, Wed. April 16, 2008, The Gazette, Gaithersburg, MD, by Patricia M. Murret, Staff Writer
Fingers flying, elbows erect, classical guitarist Marija Temo punctuates her performances with powerful flamenco strums.
‘‘I’m definitely combining the styles,” said Temo of Gaithersburg. ‘‘What’s really fun at this stage in my life is that I’m finally able to explore both the classical and the flamenco in my work.”
She was first drawn to flamenco at age 6, when the intensity of the music ‘‘gave me goose bumps” and made her feel as if she was being pulled through a tunnel into another world, she said during an interview in her Olde Towne apartment.
Trained as a virtuoso classical and flamenco guitarist, Temo is considered a ‘‘triple threat” in the symphony world, according to former teacher Loris Chobanian. Using her experience as a flamenco vocalist, dancer and conductor, she adapts flamenco styles and rhythms to classical Spanish guitar repertoires and performs them with an orchestra.
‘‘I figure if you love something enough, you continually find a way to make it work,” said Temo of charting her own path as a musician.
On March 5, Temo debuted ‘‘Tango Fantasy” in a performance at the Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory in her native Akron, Ohio. She was accompanied by the Baldwin-Wallace Symphony Orchestra, and a live recording is now being prepared for release.
The music, written by Chobanian, Baldwin-Wallace’s composer-in-residence, combines characteristics of the Argentinean tango, flamenco tango of Andalusia, Spain and Middle Eastern melodies.
‘‘In the Spanish flamenco area, women are not considered to be classical guitarists,” Chobanian said. ‘‘They are only supposed to sing and dance and clap, but [Temo] could match any man in that capacity and do the rest of it too. I think many men are intimidated by her.” The intuition Temo brings to her work goes well beyond technique and performing the notes, he said.
Temo began studying flamenco dance at 6, classical guitar at 8 and flamenco guitar at 11. She has performed flamenco professionally as a singer, dancer, guitarist and conductor since 16. But after she earned a Master of Music from the Johns Hopkins University Peabody Institute in Baltimore in 1993.
Temo decided to ‘‘up the ante” on her own and introduced flamenco into her classical guitar performances. The risk turned out to be a path of promise.
Temo has performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at least 16 times, she said. She has performed with symphonies in Alexandria, Va., Hilton Head, S.C., Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta,Canada, and Ocean City, N.J. She has also given solo concerts at world-renowned guitar festivals in the U.S. and abroad.
Likewise, she has planned a May workshop with Swedish flamenco dancer Ulrika Frank to help flamenco dancers, guitarists and singers better enhance one another in their performances. The workshop, ‘‘Solving the Flamenco Puzzle with Ulrika Frank and Marija Temo” will be held at Collective Dance studio in Washington, D.C.
Temo points to imaginary students and asks what unique gifts each brings to a sheet of music. ‘‘When you’re on stage, you’re transmitting your individuality and your gift,” she said. ‘‘And how can you put a price on that?”