Legendary collector dies aged 91

The legendary classical guitar record collector, Brazilian Ronoel Simoes, died on October 5th
in Sao Paulo, Brazil, of causes related to his diabetes and depression. He was 91. Simoes dedicated his life to the guitar, and over 50 years assembled one of the most complete collections of guitar recordings and scores, especially of Brazilian music, in the world. He was a guitarist, radio broadcaster, and friend and champion of the most famous guitarists.

Ronoel Simoes with part of his collection c 2007

Simoes’ collection, of some 7,000 - 8,000 original discs, spans the entirety of the classical guitar’s recorded life. It proved to be, for example, a treasure trove of original Agustín Barrios recordings when researcher Richard Stover visited Brazil in the 90s – Simoes is the source of almost all the Barrios recordings we have – and thence of our transcriptions of them.

Simoes appeared in the Barrios documentary Santo de la Guitarra. According to director Carlos Salcedo, ‘We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Ronoel Simoes - he was truly a unique individual who made a great contribution to the realm of the classical guitar and to the recognition of Barrios' repertory during the latter half of the 20th century.’

The collection undoubtedly contains a wealth of other wonderful jewels. The survival of the main body of the work of Brazilian guitarist Anibal Augusto Sardinha - ‘Garoto’ - for example, is also wholly due to Simoes, at whose home in 1950 Garoto recorded 13 of his own hitherto unpublished and unrecorded compositions, including most of his Choros. It was from these private tapes that, 25 years after the composer's death, guitarist Geraldo Ribeiro was able to complete and publish the transcribed works of Garoto.

The Brazilian Secretary of Culture initially agreed to acquire the collection intact, but Simoes’ widow has since stated that it is for sale. Institutions or collectors interested in further details can apply via Bristol Classical Guitar Society.

It is perhaps sobering that the generation that experienced the world of Agustín Barrios first hand has all but disappeared. Victor Urruita, Barrios' last surviving pupil, also died on August 1st 2010 in El Salvador, at the age of 97. Only Sila Godoy of Paraguay now remains. Godoy turns 92 on December 4, 2010.

Read an interview with Ronoel Simoes

BCGS wins Bristol Oporto Foundation grant award


Zoltan Farkas and Tony Lewis, Musical Director and Chairman respectively of the Bristol Classical Guitar Society, performed admirably once again on November the 11th as guitarists and ambassadors for the BCGS, when the BCGS took part for the first time in an event organised by our partners the Bristol Oporto Association. The evening was a wine tasting, in the very atmospheric surrounds of St Mary Redcliff undercroft, with Clifton Cellars wine merchants providing wines, port and guidance. An excellent cheese buffet followed. Tony provided the ambient Latin music for the first part of the evening; Zoltan gave a short concert of Brouwer (A Day in November, of course!), Bach and Barrios as a finale. Both Tony and Zoltan were warmly received.



The same evening, Liz Gamlin of the Bristol Oporto Foundation announced that the BCGS’ application to the Foundation for a Cultural and Educational grant has been accepted. This wonderful news cements our new relationship with the Oporto Association: the BCGS will use the funds in organising our own exchange events with our colleagues in Porto, beginning in March 2011 when we host Artur Caldiera and a group of Portuguese guitarists for the weekend of Neil Smith’s concert and masterclasses.

City culture

These public events are a welcome opportunity for the BCGS to contribute to the cultural life of Bristol. Zoltan Farkas also performed recently, alongside Vince Smith, for the Bristol Spanish Circle as part of the lecture on The Life and Work of Agustín Barrios Mangoré. Tony Lewis was invited at the end of October to perform at Bristol’s Henleaze Library in their celebration of Spanish-speaking culture.  


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BCGS announces Bristol-Portugal Link


We are delighted to announce, with the blessing of the City Council of Bristol, a new – international – role for BCGS. We have been working for several months with the Bristol-Oporto Association, a member of the city’s International Twinning Association, to set up a guitar link with Portugal. That link has now been formalised, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming our colleagues to the first event in what we hope will be a long and fruitful relationship: Artur Caldeira of the Conservatory of Oporto and a group of guitarists from the city will be visiting us in March 2011 to share experiences, play the guitar and enjoy the weekend of events around BCGS’ Concert Series. BCGS will return the visit in the autumn 2011.

Our sincere thanks go to the many people who have played a part in establishing this exchange, and in particular to Marmaduke Alderson and Liz Gamlin of the Bristol-Oporto Association.