Music Lives!

Q&A: David Catallo

I first heard about David Catallo when I was sitting at the Cornerstone looking at posters for upcoming events. At first I was a bit surprised to find a local classical guitar player – I hadn’t heard of David before but I’m definitely glad I came across his name. Personally, I love discovering new kinds of music and I always find it refreshing to see a new generation of musicians who are following their passions, even if those passions take them off the beaten path. David’s history and passion for classical guitar are both impressive and it definitely comes across in his playing. We got in touch with David to learn a little more about him, his inspirations, and passions.

Music Lives: How did you discover classical guitar?

David Catallo: I began playing electric guitar and steel-string acoustic when I was around 12 years old, and I was self-taught, basically going through the popular bands and the classic rock stuff; Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page, The Tea Party, Van Halen, etc. It was all pretty common repertoire for teenage guitarists, but then when I turned 17, my uncle gave me a John Williams CD (John Williams the classical guitarist and not the Star Wars theme composer). I was immediately blown away by how the whole classical guitar genre treated the instrument like a self-contained symphony with bass notes harmonizing against melodic lines. all simultaneously on only six strings. From then on I started learning everything I could, still being self-taught. I began taking lessons with Bobby Edwards who took me to the next level, where self-teaching really couldn’t get me. I had been studying for the last three years under artists like Emma Rush and at York University with Brian Katz, Lorne Lofsky, and Roger Scannura and I have recently moved to Guelph.

ML: What kind of influences inspire you?

DC: I am inspired by Paco de Lucia, who sadly died this year, which is heart-breaking because he was truly the preeminent master of flamenco guitar. Over the last three years my classical training has shifted to become more focused on Flamenco guitar, so all the greats of flamenco guitar are very influential to me right now. Paco Pena, Sabicas, Vicente Amigo, and, of course, my present flamenco teacher, Roger Scannura based out of Toronto. He has brought all of his expertise he learned from Spain right here to Ontario and has been supremely gracious enough to teach me those traditions along with skills in dancer and singer accompaniment. He is a leading exponent Nuevo Flamenco and is still teaching me many advanced approaches to composition in Flamenco.

ML: It looks like you’ve played a pretty wide array of events from weddings to coffee shops. What kinds of event do you enjoy playing and why?

DC: My favourite events would have to be weddings. When hired to do weddings along with flamenco dancers from Ritmo Flamenco (a Toronto Flamenco dance company owned and operated by the talented Scannuras:, Roger, Valerie and Anjelica Scannura), there is so much joy from the audience when they see the dancers accompanied by high energy guitar rhythms and get a feel of a rustic Andalusian fiesta. They are always very appreciative. While playing restaurants I like to infuse a few high energy flamenco songs as well, like some rumbas and a malaguena just to have peoples ears perk up and get them dancing a little bit in their seats.

ML: When did you start teaching? What do you enjoy about teaching?

DC: I started teaching English as a Second Language in Taiwan actually. I had never traveled before and wanted to work abroad for a while, and what I found was that there was something infinitely gratifying about teaching. Satisfying someones curiosity but helping them to find the answer and seeing them succeed is the greatest feeling in the world, probably just as exciting as a great performance. Obviously, it was a little difficult to get children interested in flamenco music when I was in Taiwan trying to teach guitar on the side. With the language gap, most of what I was teaching to kids was English… while a guitar just happened to be in my hands. When I moved back I started teaching in Bolton at an Arcadia Music Academy and loved it. Right now, in Guelph, I am offering lessons to people interested in Classical, Flamenco, Pop, Rock, Heavy Metal, etc. I am really happy to teach anything guitar related.

ML: How can people learn more about you and your music?

DC: To learn more about the lessons I offer, how to book live music for your next special event, upcoming events in Southern Ontario, and for links to my facebook page, twitter page, and youtube channel please go to www.davidcatalloguitar.com

I have just finished recording the first half of my album and the other compositions are all prep’d for my next recording sessions. I am hoping to have it out by mid November. The album will be entirely solo guitar compositions, most will be based on Flamenco palos but I wanted to add some oddities in there, for example a Venezuelan inspired composition and an African piece inspired by the Kora playing of Toumani Diabate. For more information stay tuned at www.davidcatalloguitar.com.

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