Ricardo Gomez was born in El Tigre, Venezuela in 1995. In earlier years he studied the flute and the cuatro (a four-stringed Venezuelan instrument). The classical guitar is now his main passion. In addition to playing in classes for important figures like Leo Brouwer, Aniello Desiderio, and Roland Dyens, Ricardo won prizes in several important competitions. Most recently, Ricardo won first prize in the High School division at the Classical Minds festival and competition in Houston, TX.
Through the help of Classical Minds director Valerie Hartzell, Ricardo shared some thoughts with us about his recent experiences, the Classical Minds festival, and his path for the future.
Many thanks to Ricardo’s aunt Beatriz Gomez who translated for us!
FB: How many competitions have you taken part in?
Ricardo: I have participated in 4 guitar competitions in Venezuela and 3 overseas.
In Venezuela I participated in the National Consurso Alirio Diaz for the first time in 2011, in that opportunity I achieved second place in category C. In April of 2013 I returned to this Concurso in the same category and won first place. In July of the same year I participated in the National Guitar Concurso Angostura, in Ciudad Bolivar. I was in the ‘categoria superior’ and got first place. I was also recognized as the best interpreter of a piece by Antonio Lauro.
Also in 2013, I travel to Coria, Spain (the first time out of my country!). I participated in the concurso in the junior category where I placed third. After Spain my next competitions were here in the USA. I participated in the Classical Minds (Houston) festival where I placed first in the high school category and then I went to the GFA International Youth Competition.
FB:How do you deal with nerves? Has it gotten easier with time and experience?
Ricardo: I don’t have a method to deal with the nerves before performing, the best way to deal with that is by studying hard and preparing. To prepare, I like to participate in small recitals with the pieces I will present in a competition. The nerves before performing are always present, but with preparation and studying I can control them better.
FB: Can you talk a little about the Classical Minds Festival?
Ricardo: This was a great experience, I found the participants, teachers, facilitators and organizers to be very kind. All the facilitators and organizers were always ready to help. The classes were also excellent. For the first time I had the opportunity to play in a guitar orchestra and spend some time with other very talented students. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to get some classes from two excellent professors, Adam Holzman and Isaac Bustos. [Check out the video of Ricardo playing the Brouwer Sonata I. Fandangos y Boleros at the Classical Minds Festival]
FB: Your English is limited. Was this a problem, and if so, how did you deal with it? (I admire your courage by the way!)
Ricardo: Si, my English in limited, but I was very lucky to work with people who always wanted to help. Everything went very well. There were students and a few teachers who spoke Spanish and helped me, everybody was helpful and kind to me.
FB: What music did you play for the competition?
Ricardo: In the first round I played Study 11 by Heitor Villalobos and ‘Seis por derecho’ by Antonio Lauro. In the second round the Variations on a Theme of F. Sor op. 15 by Miguel Llobet and from Bach the Allegro BWV 998. For the finals I played the Sonata by Leo Brower and Natalia by Antonio Lauro.
FB: What are one or two of your other favorite pieces to play right now?
Ricardo: Variations on a Theme of F. Sor op. 15 by Miguel Llobet and Sonata by Leo Brower
FB: What is your practice schedule like?
Ricardo: At home I used to practice 6 hours a day. 3 hours in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, but here in Houston [where Ricardo is staying with his aunt Beatriz for a few months] I am taking English lessons and I practice in the time I have available before and after classes.
FB: What sparked your passion for the classical guitar?
Ricardo: My father is a music teacher, he plays the trumpet, and from him I got the interest in music. I started in the Music School Angel Mottola where he teaches. In that school I started with cuatro and the flute when I was 12 years old (the cuatro is a Venezuelan instrument similar to ukulele, but with a very different playing technique). At home I had an old guitar left behind by my aunt and my father asked me if I wanted to take some classes, soon after that I left the cuatro and the flute and became dedicated to the guitar. [check out the video of a young Ricardo playing the cuatro on Venezuelan TV -that's his brother Aaron playing the trumpet]
FB: What are your short and long-term goals?
Ricardo: I want to go to college and graduate in music with specialization in an instrument.
FB: What is something interesting or unique about you that is not related to the guitar?
Ricardo: I love fútbol, it is my favorite sport. I try to play it every time I have an opportunity. In the GFA I played with Vladimir Gorbach in a friendly game. Before I found the guitar, I used to play fútbol and participated in different local championships.