Courier Mail – Brisbane; September 12, 2007
Ensemble puts its stamp on modern flamenco by Tonya Turner
It was a turning point in Greg Alfonzetti’s musical career when he played flamenco guitar in a play directed by Judy Davis at the Sydney Opera House. Previously dedicated to traditional flamenco music, the challenge presented to him by Davis moved him into new territory. The play was School for Scandal by British playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Unsure of why a flamenco guitarist was needed for an 18th-centure comedy of manners, Alfonzetti says Davis explained she wanted him to musically interpret the emotions behind the dialogue to bring them to life.
“That seemed like such a daunting task, but applying my mind musically to that sort of challenge was fantastic” Alfonzetti says. Some of the music Alfonzetti composed for the play, performed by Sydney Theatre Company in 2001, later became the basis for his contemporary flamenco group, Arrebato Ensemble. “I’d been working a lot more in a traditional format, particularly with flamenco dancers, and it was really that experience which made me want to turn my mind to other applications of flamenco and the search for other musicians and extending the compositions” Alfonzetti says.
The group has been performing together for three years and is comprised of Alfonzetti, Damian de Boos-Smith on cello, guitars and mandolin, Dave Ellis on double bass, Lloyd G on percussion and Andrew Poniris on saxophone and harmonica.
Alfonzetti fell in love with flamenco during a visit to Spain 20 years ago, after seeing legendary flamenco guitarist Pedro Bacan in concert in Seville. “He moved me so much he transformed me. I was young and impressionable and I just thought I’ve got to play like this” he says. Since then, Alfonzetti has dedicated himself to mastering the challenging technique and soulful rhythms of flamenco guitar.
At their first Brisbane performance at the Judith Wright Centre, Arrebato Ensemble will be accompanied by flamenco dancer Ana Ontero.