Review of Nostalgia by Agustín Castilla-Ávila, Zay Records, 2013
Agustín Castilla-Ávila is a Spanish composer, born in Jerez de la Frontera, where he began his musical studies at its conservatoire. Later he entered Conservatorio Superior de Sevilla obtaining the Titulo Superior de Guitarra with Professor J. Calero. In 1998 he was the first guitarist to gain a scholarship by Fundacion La Caixa-British Council to study a Masters Degree at the London College of Music with guitarist Carlos Bonell. Later he moved to the Guildhall School of Music where he earned a Postgraduate Diploma and a Masters with guitarists Robert Brightmore, David Miller and the composer Mathew King. He won the Portallion Solo Guitar Prize at this school. He continued his studies at Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg with professor Isabel Siewers. While at Mozarteum, he also took studies at Arizona State University doing a Doctorate in Musical Arts under the direction of guitarist Frank Koonce. He was also an assistant teacher at this university. In 2004 he began his composition studies with Adriana Hölszky at Mozarteum finishing his Masters degree at this school with Reinhard Febel. He also studied composition with Alexander Müllenbach at Luxemburg Consevatoire. In 2013 he becomes the Music Preis (Jahresstipendium) from the Region of Salzburg.
In the booklet that accompanies this cd the composer wrote “Nostalgia is my first album and the best way to show myself is to show my roots”. The nostaglia of his country is well explained in passages and titles like “Presentimiento”, “Meditations”, “Tres canciones para Soprano y Guitarra”, or in works related with his youth like “Duerme,Tesoro” or ““Das Lied des großen kleinen Prinzen”.
Only “Presentimiento” is for solo guitar, all the other pieces are for guitar and flute, guitar and soprano, guitar and tenor, tenor,flute, guitar and cymbal, so this is a … sort of a “blended” record, where you can listen to a lot of possibilites about guitar.
Spain is a strong presence in this record. And guitar is the path, the medium Agustín Castilla-Ávila decided to use to show us his own idea of Spain. An idea that I think is different from the tourist and exotic idea we have about his country, it’s a different Spain we listen to here, a new kind of Spain, that has accepted her traditions, has metabolized them and it’s starting into something new.