Carlos Bonell

The English guitarist, Carlos Antonio Bonell, was born in London of Spanish parents, and studied at the Royal College of Music with John Williams.

Carlos Bonell made his debut at Wigmore Hall in London. His concert tours extend to many parts of the world including most European capitals as well as the USA, Israel, and South Africa. In 1983 he formed his own ensemble, the Carlos Bonell Ensemble, which includes some of Britain’s finest musicians. The Ensemble, which has toured in more than 20 countries, is widely regarded as the most innovative and entertaining guitar-based ensemble in the world today. Carlos has appeared regularly with all the major British orchestras and at many international Festivals including The City of London, Aldeburgh, Helsinki, Israel, Tanglewood, Sydney, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival. Since 2000, his concert schedule has expanded to include regular tours through Australia, the Far East and South America.

Carlos Bonell’s programmes reflect a wide musical interest beyond Spanish music. His association with various composers, and interest in contemporary music, has led to programmes which include music by Barrington (Inspector Morse music) Pheloung, the late Stephen Oliver (who composed a guitar sonata for him), Ottavio Négro, Armand Coeck, and John Tavener. His specially devised programmes including Millennium Guitar: the first 1000 years and Mystery, Myth and Magic have proved very popular around the world. He has formed musical associations with a wide variety of musicians including guitarist John Williams, flamenco guitarists Paco Peña and Juan Martín, jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, violinists Salvatore Accardo, Pinchas Zukerman and Levon Chilingirian, and singers Patricia Rozario, Teresa Berganza, Cleo Laine and Philip Langridge.

2005 included the world premiere of Ophelia, a work specially composed for Carlos Bonell by the Australian composer Phillip Houghton. This work will appear in a new publishing venture: the Carlos Bonell Edition, which focuses on new music for guitar. A performance highlight of the season was the London International Guitar Festival in July (of which he is the Artistic Director) where he played concerts with John Williams and the Chamber Ensemble of London. In 2006 he undertook an extended tour of the USA which included Fort Worth, Dallas, Atlanta and Las Vegas, presenting his acclaimed solo programme “Millennium Guitar, the first 1000 years”. Engagements in 2007 include concerts in Japan, and an UK tour with the orchestra Philharmonia of the Nations conducted by Justus Frantz.

Carlos Bonell gained prominence in 1981 through his recording for Decca of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Charles Dutoit. It was hailed as a “magnificent triumph” by Classical Music Magazine, UK, and awarded a coveted rosette by the Penguin CD guide. Since that time it has been repeatedly singled out as the finest version available. In addition to his Decca recordings, he has recorded for EMI, ASV, CBS and Upbeat Classics. At the beginning of his recording career his 1976 CBS recording with “John Williams and Friends” received a Grammy nomination (for best chamber music performance on record) in 1978, while his 1998 solo CD release “The Private Collection” was described as “a masterclass in magic” by the BBC Music Magazine. His 1997 CD “The Sea in Spring” was chosen as Pick of the Week by Classic FM. The 2000 CD “Kinkachoo, I love you” is a unique musical journey through 1000 years of musical history, and premieres a number of works. His DVD “Classical Guitar performance” released in 2005 contains a one-hour live performance with spoken introductions in English and Spanish by Carlos himself. It has met with universal acclaim. He can also be heard on the sound-tracks of the Hollywood films City of Angels and The Honest Courtesan and on the BBC TV productions Inspector Morse and The Politician’s Wife.

Carlos Bonell is also greatly in demand as an outstanding teacher. In 1972 he was appointed the youngest ever professor at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1978 he was honoured with Honorary Associate of the Royal Collage of Music. Every year he conducts international teaching courses in Italy, Spain, the UK and Venezuela, as well as master-classes during many of his concert tours. In 2006 in Venezuela he was awarded the Catedra Internacional de Guitarra Carlos Bonell in recognition of his teaching activities there since 2000 which have included workshops and master-classes throughout the country. The Catedra receives financial support from numerous organisations and institutions, and is recognised by Universities as a valuable part of student studies.

Carlos Bonell’s compositions include: Spanish Folk Songs and Dances20 First pieces (1984). His publications include: The Romantic Guitar and The Classical Guitar (1983); Terraga: Fantasia and Purcell: 2 Pieces from the Fairy Queen3 Spanish Folk Songs for 3 guitars (1984); Masterclasses on Playing the Guitar (1983); Masterworks of the Classical Guitar (1984); Airs and Dances of Gasper Sanz (1977). His first book about the guitar, Guitar – An Easy Guide, was published in April 2005 by New Holland Publishing and contains an introduction to playing, a brief history of the acoustic guitar, and a recommended listening guide. He is also contributor to Guitar Magazine and frequent broadcaster.