World-class musical ambassador hailed in Paraguay

Richard ended up playing the river gig just as the sun went down
Richard ended up playing the river gig just as the sun went down

AN international guitarist from Shoreham has returned from his third trip to Paraguay as a world-class musical ambassador.

Richard Durrant, 51, was invited to perform at a gala concert at the Teatro Municipal de Asuncion, in the capital city of Asuncion, to mark the reopening of the British Embassy.

“It was really quite special and amazing to have been asked,” said Richard.

“I was invited by Luis Szarán, a prominent figure in Paraguay and the director of OSCA (Orquesta Sinfónica de la Cuidad de Asunción), whom I performed with at the concert.

“I also performed a world première of a new piece which I wrote specially, called Lamento y Danza, composed for guitar, solo cello and a quartet of cellos.

“It was a real honour.”

During his two-week stay in the country, Richard performed in nine concerts, one of which was an intriguing gig called Concert by the Tree.

“I performed in a gig in Rosario, basically standing on top of a boat to commemorate the roots of a tree which had been a meeting place in the town for centuries,” he explained.

“About 1,000 people turned up to watch and somehow they managed to haul me up and set the top of the boat up like a stage.”

The tree by which Richard played was recognised as a historically-important place a few years ago.

It is said to have been a meeting place for European members of the religious Society of Brothers (Bruderhof), who had fled to Paraguay from the Nazis in 1940.

After erosion threatened to destroy it, a £20,000 civic campaign restored the tree and its surroundings and the concert by the river marked the saving of a key part of the town’s history.

“Playing on the river was a real highlight of the trip,” Richard said.

“It was really beautiful and I ended up playing just as the sun went down.

“It was extraordinary.”

Richard has already made plans to return to Paraguay next year, keen to embrace another musical adventure.

“I’m going back at the end of 2014 to work with a group who do a lot to introduce children to music, as well as work in a music college in the capital.

“I’m hoping to take my whole family out there at some point to improve our Spanish!” he said.

But with his feet currently back on British soil, he is already busy with his next project – a Christmas album, which he was promoting at the BBC two weeks ago.

And Richard hasn’t forgotten his own town of residence, looking forward to a concert at the Ropetackle Centre in Shoreham, in December.

“I’ve got an evening and a matinée performance and usually it’s quite popular,” he said.

“The evening performance has already sold out, so if people want to go they should buy their tickets now.”