The Spanish tradition of classical guitar has been passed down from family member to family member for centuries, perhaps never more beautifully played than by the legendary Romero family.
Romero began teaching his three sons guitar at the age of three, and each made their debut in Spain by the time they were seven years old. In 1957, the family immigrated to the United States where “The Romeros” played its first guitar quartet while the boys were still in their teens.
In the early ’80s, the eldest Romero started the internationally renowned ensemble known to millions as “The Royal Family of the Guitar,” playing alongside sons Celin, Pepe and Angel.
“My first recollection is being in the kitchen and listening to my father, and we would practice there when I was just four years old, with a footstool, and we would just play all day,” Celine Romero said. “All my life I have been with the guitar.”
A decade later, a third generation of Romeros joined the group when Celin’s son Celino and Angel’s son Lito became members. Sadly, Celedonio would pass away in 1996, but the quartet has continued his legacy, dazzling countless audiences and winning the raves of reviewers worldwide.
“We have been playing for over 53 years now with family members coming in, so the tradition of family has always been with us,” Romero said. “I love this instrument and for me it’s been a very beautiful life that’s allowed me to be with my family all around the world, meeting such wonderful people.”
To have so many virtuosi of the same instrument in one family is unique in the world of musical performance, and in the realm of the classical guitar it is absolutely without precedent.
The Romeros will present a special holiday concert, “Concerto Malaga,” at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m., performing with a 13-piece chamber ensemble from southern Spain.
The tour celebrates the friendship between The Romeros Quartet, the Music Director of Concerto Málaga Massimo Paris, and Concerto Málaga as well as their new recording, “Christmas with Los Romeros.”
“It’s a group from Malaga and we are working with a wonderful instrumentalist and composer who has written a Christmas suite for chamber orchestra and four guitars,” Romero said. “We will play that and also some arrangements he did from Handel’s Messiah that he did for four guitars.”
In addition, the concert will feature a number of Christmas songs from different nations, all with the Romeros classic twist on the arrangements.
“We wanted to have a Christmas album out and did one last year and then we toured in Europe and had a lot of fun with it,” Romero said. “The response was great so we decided to take it to America.”
The quartet will be playing all season long and look forward to making happy memories as the concerts lead up to Christmas.
“For the Romeros, Christmas is a time for family and to be together and our love for the music comes out even more this time of year,” he said. “We represent a unity of family and friends for life. Music gives you energy and it’s wonderful to have that in front of an audience each night.”
Recently, Romero played with two of his grandchildren—ages 11 and 15—at their school for Grandparents Day, and gave him reason to believe the quartet would continue into a fourth generation.
“They have been practicing and I had no idea how good they were getting,” he said. “Everyone plays the guitar in this family and it was an incredible feeling to be playing with them and maybe the quartet will continue even further now.”