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Spanish guitarist Raul Viela, 41, has played in more than 20 countries, travelling from Europe to Africa, North America and the Middle East as a soloist. He has performed for heads of states outside Spain, and at home he teaches music to hundreds of locals and is also visiting faculty at a university in his hometown of Huesca, in the northeast of Spain.

Dawn caught up with Mr Viela while he was in town to talk about his work.

Q. When did you develop an interest in music and in the guitar in particular?

A. I always wanted to be a guitarist. When I was a child, my father bought me a little guitar and I wanted nothing but a guitar. As I grew up, I knew this is what I wanted to be – a musician. No one in my family is a musician, so I married one.

Now I have a guitarist wife, and we have nothing but all kinds of guitars at home. My three-year-old boy has already started to play with the strings.

Q. What kind of challenges do musicians face?

A. The greatest challenge for the musician is to transmit the composition to the audience in its true form. The musician is a middleman; he or she has to convey an uninterrupted composition created by the composer to the audience sitting across the aisle. If the audience feels the same emotions as the composer, the musician has done his job rightly so.

Q. What kind of music do you personally enjoy?

A. All kinds. I love every kind of music from opera to pop, rap, and of course classical music, which is my bread and butter.

I believe that an artist is not complete if he or she makes to choose. Going a step further, an artist should have a keen interest in all forms of art, be it theatre, cinema, music or paintings. That is the definition of a true artist.

Q. Has guitar suffered as a medium due to digitalisation in the music industry?

A. Well, technology is something that is here to stay. But I think classical music and in particular classical Spanish guitar has very strong roots. However, having said that, it’s a fight between traditional and modern mediums of music and I think tradition will win.

Q. Where does guitar fit into the famous forms of art and entertainment in Spain such as flamenco?

A. No doubt flamenco is a universally acknowledged and traditional art, but Spain is a country which has many other forms of art to showcase as well, guitar being the most prominent one. Although flamenco covers many other parts of Spain’s cultural manifestations, even in flamenco performances guitar is a very integral part.

Q. You have performed in more than 20 countries; which place excited you the most?

A. I enjoyed all the performances, but when I travel far from Spain, in a totally different culture like Pakistan, I get very excited as there is a lot to learn.

Very recently I performed in Portugal, which is our neighbouring country; same language, same culture more or less, but playing guitar in a country where music is played different is always a challenge.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018

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