The Romeros Feb. 1, 2007
“Three of a Kind to Full House, the Romeros Win the Hand at Cerritos”
By Glen Creason
The Wayne Shilkret Memorial Tribute Fund concert is always a special evening at the Performing Arts Center and normally only the crème de la crème are on hand to entertain at this event. This year was no exception as the Romeros, often called the Royal Family of the Guitar were scheduled for their program of Spanish classical music. Yet, the stunned crowd was told at the introductions that Celin Romero, senior member and father of two sons in the group had broken a finger in an accident and would be unable to perform. This, being like a basketball team having to play without its point guard. It took the wind out of the giddy full house and put added pressure on the remaining three to honor Mr. Shilkret and go on with the show. There was also the considerable hurdle of the announced program containing a number of quartet pieces that could not possibly be played by a trio.
Fortunately, Pepe, Celin and Listo Romero are given the royal moniker for good reason and they navigated this bend in the road without showing a care. As a matter of fact, this challenge was met with style and grace ending in a genuine triumph with the formerly worried sellout crowd on their feet shouting Romero praises. As it turns out, the quartet pieces were swapped out for some deliciously intimate compositions by the patriarch of the family Celedonio Romero and other familiar Spanish composers. All were played with passion and precision and by the conclusion few in the audience felt even a twinge of regret over the changes. The trio played the “Concerto in D Major” by Vivaldi in its entirety and the wonderful peaks of the Allegros book ended the sweetness of the familiar Adagio as a portend of good things to come. Gaspar Sanz’ “Suite Espanola” was played by Celin who showed great virtuosity with the left hand to express the piece’s delicate textures. After the very contemporary sounding “Tonadilla” from Rodrigo by the young men and an incredibly moving “Asturias” and “Rumores de la Caleta” by Pepe the family turned to their patriarch for further inspiration. Celedonio’s “Los Maestros” by Listo was a tour de force of guitar musicianship using every square inch of the instrument.
The Romeros were amazingly resilient in choosing materials on the fly and the second half included wonderful substitutions like the silken “La Paloma,” played perfectly by Celin and Dance #2 by Granados by both Celin and Lito. The family kept going to the rich Romero mine and finding Celedonio’s gold including a spirited “Fantasia” played by Celin and “Zapateado” by the “boys,” bringing the house down. Still, the greatest applause seemed to be reserved for the viejito Pepe who showed them how it is done with passion and skill on both “Gran Jota” and “Recuerdos del Alhambra” by Tarrega . You literally could have heard an “alfiler” drop during the “Recuerdos...” which was identified as a favorite of Mrs. Shilkret. Pepe was gracious and gave additional love to the assembled including his own stirring composition “Fiesta en Cadiz” and his father’s “Noche Malaga” that got the hall on its feet for a standing ovation. The encore was appropriately directed to Mr. Shilkret, the great hall and efforts to educate youth in the arts. Pepe Romero called Wayne a “beautiful dreamer” and asked the assembled to keep his dream alive.