Copyright 2014. Celino Romero. All rights reserved.
When Celino Romero joined the all-family Classical guitar quartet, Los Romeros, in 1990 he ushered in the third generation of the group’s esteemed history. Established by Celino’s grandfather, father and uncles in their native Spain, Los Romeros have been performing together since 1960 for audiences worldwide. They are regarded by the New York Times as “The Royal Family of the Guitar.” Celino was joined 6 years later by his cousin Lito, who stepped in to replace their grandfather. Los Romeros have performed for dignitaries worldwide, including two American Presidents, Pope John Paul II and the King of Spain. In 2007, Los Romeros were granted The Recording Academy's President's Merit Award from the GRAMMYS in honor of their artistic achievements.
In addition to touring with Los Romeros, Celino performs as a soloist in recital and with major orchestras, as well as collaborating in duets with other family members. The entire group participates in teaching master classes on guitar, and Celino is expanding his reach as an instructor over the internet, with both live and recorded instruction.
Celino, his immediate family, and the rest of Los Romeros reside in Del Mar, California.
Growing Up Romero
Celino Romero may have been born into “The Royal Family of the Guitar,” but his place onstage among Los Romeros still had to be earned.
Born in Hollywood, California, in 1969, Celino moved with his family to Del Mar in coastal San Diego when he was just three. He was raised a true Southern Californian, loving everything nature and a Mediterranean climate had to offer: from the ocean beaches to the mountains and deserts, Celino has always found inspiration close to home.
Of course, there were always guitars around Celino’s childhood home, not to mention guitarists. (Really good ones – both the guitars and the guitarists!) Picking up the guitar was almost inevitable, as was hearing and seeing the instrument played to world class standards by his grandfather (Celedonio), father (Celin) and uncles (Pepe and Angel). Learning to play the instrument well, though – well enough to take the stage next to his family of virtuosos – was still up to Celino.
Celino had already picked up and played with guitars by age four, and he recalls starting lessons in earnest by about eight. His grandfather, father and uncles all were his instructors; regardless of teacher, though, it was always “The Romero Method,” a consistent approach to hand position, posture, fingering and other nuances of playing guitar consistently at the highest levels. And Celino’s mentors always taught him with warmth and encouragement, a practice he applies today with his own students.
While guitar talent clearly came down through the Romero side of the family, Celino also has an intensely talented musical mother. Laurie Romero is a classically trained operatic soprano and active music educator. Celino credits her with his early instruction on the piano, as well as his training to read music. While his earliest guitar lessons had emphasized playing by ear, reading music is a fundamental skill required of all classical musicians.
Ultimately the spark to excel came from within Celino, himself. Alongside the typical teen activities of growing up in Southern California – playing high school baseball and soccer, hanging out with friends at the beach, surfing and diving and so on – the guitar provided an outlet and a focus for Celino’s youthful energy. His practice hall was often the beach, the perfect spot where he found inspiration to play hard and fast. While this wasn’t the controlled, nuanced technique his mentors taught him for classical works, it helped build the steady confidence required to perform in public. Guitar was his hobby, his passion and even his therapy. Somewhat out of sight of his mentors, Celino’s readiness for the stage advanced considerably in those many days at the beach.
When Los Romeros went on tour in Germany during the 1988 season, Celino went along for more training. He got the chance to see his family on the road and to understand the pleasures and demands of a touring performance schedule firsthand. And, though he wasn’t performing, of course Celino brought a guitar along. During this trip his family had a chance to hear how much he had honed his skills in all those days at the beach, and they were impressed! If the established quartet members knew some changes were coming, they also saw in Celino how the group would thrive amid those changes.
In 1990 Los Romeros underwent a reorganization that would position the all-family group to continue into the next generation. Each player had always performed separately, in addition to his work with the quartet, and at this point Uncle Angel decided to focus full time on conducting and solo performance. Fortunately Celino was ready with the talent, training and work ethic necessary to fill the opening in the quartet left by Uncle Angel.
Malaga, Spain, the Romero family’s ancestral home, saw the public debut of Celino’s career as one of Los Romeros in 1990. An American debut at Los Angeles’ Greek Theater came soon after. In 1993 Celino had his solo debut with orchestra, backed by the Vermont Symphony, playing Joaquin Rodrigo’s alternately delicate and stirring Concierto de Aranjuez. Other solo collaborations followed, with Celino continuing to perform the Rodrigo, as well as Ponce's Concierto del Sur and Moreno Torroba's Sonatina for Orchestra and Guitar.
Joaquín Rodrigo, it should be noted here, was a mainstay of Los Romeros’ repertoire, with debuts and commissioned works since 1967. When Celino joined the quartet, he had the pleasure of touring with his Uncle Pepe performing Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal for Two Guitars.
One of Celino’s most treasured memories from those early years with the group is that he had the chance to play professionally alongside his grandfather from 1990 to 1995. Celino’s cousin, Lito, replaced their grandfather in the quartet beginning in 1996, and the group has continued unchanged through to today.
For more than two decades now, Celino Romero has appeared with Los Romeros in many of the world’s leading performance halls and with many of its finest orchestras, as well. A full touring schedule over the years has taken the group to world capitals, as well as smaller and more intimate venues globally.
Musical instruction is a passion and a commitment in the Romero family. “Papa” Celedonio started a tradition all those years ago, teaching his three boys by age four. When setting out to teach children to play musical instruments – especially the guitar, which relies so heavily on fine hand motor skills that kids are still developing – everything depends on the experience being enjoyable and relaxed, in addition to being disciplined. That’s how it was for Celin, Pepe and Angel when their father taught them and it was very much the same for Celino in his early years. It’s also what Celino is so deeply committed to emulating for the benefit of his own students.
These days Celino teaches both one-on-one and in group settings, as well as over the internet. A high point of each season is the Celedonio Romero Guitar Institute in Oklahoma City, a week-long program held in early summer since 2009. The entire quartet participates at the Institute, teaching one-on-one and group master classes, as well as providing opportunities for students to perform alongside their teachers.
Celino has also been teaching master classes each year at the Detroit Chamber Music Society since 2010. And in any given year more master classes appear on the calendar to complement his touring schedule, as well.
In 2006 Celino released his instructional book and CD set, “The Art of Spanish Guitar: A Method.” This successful title combined Celino’s love for teaching the guitar with his desire to reach a wider audience. At the heart of this endeavor is a deep belief that the style of playing followed now by three generations of the Romero family is truly special.
Building on the above publication, Celino is now pursuing ways to expand his reach as a master class guitar instructor. One-on-one instruction is available via Skype for select students. The success of some of Celino’s YouTube videos, LaPaloma has garnered to date well over 600,000 views!) has inspired thought of a video instruction series. In the future Celino plans to develop individual lesson videos for young audiences, delivered via subscription over the internet.
All four members of the Quartet live near one another in Del Mar. Celino is philosophical about what music has brought into his life. It is beauty, tradition, warmth, discipline, passion, and so much more. Ultimately for Celino and his family, music is the core of who they are and how they live.
Copyright 2014. Celino Romero. All rights reserved.