Hotel del Lago, Asuncion

In the run up to two shows, The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay on 3 and 4 March, Richard Durrant continues the story of his Paraguayan adventures and his exploration of the music of Barrios…

Richard’s first trip to Paraguay was centred around the launch of The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay. The tour included a concert in the Teatro Municipal, Asuncion where Barrios himself had played many years previously. At one point during the concert, the performance was stopped to welcome Richard as an ‘Esteemed Visitor’ to the capital city.

The certificate still hangs on the studio wall. Amongst so many wonderful and unexpected events there was a lovely stand out moment for Richard.

After playing at a Barrios conference in the Hotel del Lago (pictured above) – a favourite haunt of Barrios – I was introduced to none other than Richard Stover who, years earlier had painstakingly transcribed and published most of Barrios’ solos.

Says Richard

As a student, Richard would save up to buy these books as they came out. During their meeting in Paraguay, ‘Rico’ and he got on splendidly and stayed in touch afterwards.

Sadly, Richard Stover passed away in 2019 at the age of 74. He was an important figure in the Barrios story and is much missed. 

Shortly after Richard Durrant’s concert Richard Stover wrote the following:

Extremely musical and expressive, with virtuosity to spare. I am speaking of Richard Durrant, English guitarist who recently visited Paraguay. The public acclaimed him not only because he presented an all-Barrios program (which he played superlatively), but also because of his passion and tenderness, qualities that he communicates through his magnificent playing of the classic guitar.

Durrant is a musician of depth who can play a variety of musical styles, from the Concierto de Aranjuez with the Royal Philharmonic, to popular music and jazz. Here is a mature musician of extraordinary technical prowess. 

Richard Stover
Barrios biographer and ethnomusicologist (Caacupé, 2011)

Later came The Girl at the Airport album.Richard wrote the title track to celebrate the romance of touring abroad.

The Girl At The Airport

If you have a Spotify account you can listen to the music.

For this final album in the trilogy Richard wrote the title track The Girl at the Airport for guitar and string orchestra.

“I imagined flying out of Shoreham Airport bound for Paraguay aboard a white Dakota clutching my guitar case and a bundle of manuscripts. I’d stepped out of a Graham Greene novel and I could hear that string section behind my guitar long before I booked the orchestra. All I had to do was write it down.

Says Richard

Albums and book
No 26 to Paraguay

Two upcoming solo performances in March celebrate the music of the great Paraguayan guitar master Agustin Barrios…

‘Barrios (1885-1944) is the greatest guitarist composer we have ever had, and Paraguay is the most mysterious place I have ever been. I still dream of the adventures I had there, the music I discovered and the friends I made.’

Says Richard

This winter, Richard has been warming up his guitar playing by revisiting the music from his trilogy of Paraguayan albums which grew out of his various visits to the country which started in 2011.  And the result will be two fabulous shows in Sussex and Suffolk.

A hero’s welcome for Richard in Barrios’ birthplace Villa Florida, May 2011

In these two shows Richard will share tales and music from his own musical journey and the inspiration he found both in Agustin Barrios and the Paraguayan musicians who followed.

Richard as guest soloist rehearsing with the City of Asuncion Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the re-opening of the British Embassy in Paraguay.

The abiding musical presence of Barrios led to Richard performing at the country’s bicentenary celebrations in Spring 2011. This began a lasting relationship with South American music and Richard being widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest interpreters of the works of Barrios.

‘In April 2011 arrived in Paraguay for the first time. It was a country I’d imagined for most of my life; this was my mythological land.  Straight from the airport, under an azure sky, we headed for the centre of Asunción, the capitol city; our three car motorcade overtook antiquated, parrot coloured buses packed full of Agustín Barrios lookalikes. The cousins and second cousins of Nitsuga Mangoré grinned at me from street corners.’

From The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay

Richard’s solo trilogy of Paraguayan albums, his book of music, stories & pictures and the duet album with harpist Ismael Ledesma are all available at our online shop (the albums are on CD or as hi-rez audio downloads).