CODARTS FLAMENCO PORTFOLIO
+1 415 553 0146
Preferred Teacher: Alexander Preuss/Arturo Ramón
Other Applications: Conservatorium van Amsterdam
Music now is a path of self-realization for me, a reason for and a method of understanding myself. What began as participation in something I was talented at in elementary school, playing clarinet in the school concert band, quickly became an obsession with classic rock as soon as I got my first guitar at 14 years old. The guitar was so versatile and easy to play by comparison that my musical interests rapidly blossomed from the music of the 60s and 70s into music of the 18th and 19th centuries, to Jazz, Flamenco, Indian Classical Music, “Fusion”**, Electronic Music, and composing on my own.
After starting to improvise, the idea of communicating deep thoughts and feelings through music felt so tangible. I crave this language, I need this expression, but I haven’t always been able to pursue its development for various reasons. Jazz was the only option for me in school as a guitarist, but I loved that the spontaneity of playing with others and playing through changes required a very thorough commitment to every aspect of music--theory, harmony, technique, etc. It wasn’t until I had been inspired by my teacher John D. Thomas at Berklee College of Music, that I finally felt my studies were shapeable towards my desires. I put in the long hours of learning all the notes of the fretboard, slowing down my approach in practicing, and thinking with more colors on guitar. My playing had noticeably improved. Still, my heart felt under-served. That is, until I finally was able to access the study of Flamenco.
Flamenco has been this exotic, distant land of music calling to me in the recesses of my mind for the longest time. I first heard Friday Night in San Francisco while I was in high school, but was still too obsessed with Led Zeppelin to follow the catalogue of Paco de Lucia. Thus, Flamenco remained an enigma until very recently, when my dive into Paco’s discography brought me to Tomatito, Juan Manuel Cañizares, Gerardo Nuñez and Vicente Amigo. I started learning techniques from a book by Manuel Granados, and slowly working through Paco Peña’s Toques Flamencos. I went out on a limb and reached out to Ruben Diaz for flamenco lessons via Skype, and my musical life track quickly switched to fully dedicated flamenco study. I fell in love. The open string arpeggios alone, alzapua, the countless palos, the high-level of improvisation with dancers and singers, the percussive elements! Finally a place where the guitar’s versatility is fully utilized!
I currently study with Grisha Goryachev, who has encouraged and inspired me to continue my flamenco studies into something of my own language, and that is exactly what I want to do here at Codarts--take my background in jazz and passion for flamenco and use both in crafting my own identity on guitar. I have applied to schools elsewhere, but nowhere have I felt more excited about the environment and general paradigm of the teachers and students alike-- almost as though the city’s reconstruction itself gave rise to an infectious air of creativity and innovation. While I could study jazz anywhere, I so dearly want to study flamenco at Codarts in the wake of Maestro Paco Peña, and strengthen my techniques and understanding of both the music and myself. I have become enchanted by so much that is happening currently in the flamenco world, most notably Rocío Molina’s work and Dani de Moron’s Creer Para Ver. As a guitarist and creator, I want to be an integral part of this cutting edge that is evolving art and the humanity within it.
**By “Fusion” I am referring to many things, i.e. Shakti, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Return to Forever, electric Miles Davis...
Why Do You Think This Project Is Called Incubator?
1. The project seems to be aptly titled-- it is a collaborative creative process that is incubated by the nurturing care of artistic coaches, the respective fires of each participating artist, and the pressure of a 5-day incubation period, which ultimately gives birth to a multi-disciplinary work of live performance art. Beyond this, hopefully there is also born a new type of creativity within each of the participating/contributing artists.
What Are Your Reflections Working Together With Other Disciplines?
2. Working with other disciplines is incredibly rewarding! I feel that this is a very important and basic aspect of being a conscious citizen of the world, where your strengths are always met with another’s in an entirely different medium, creative or otherwise. There will most certainly be rewarding challenges. I imagine that as a collaborative artist, it can be incredibly inspiring to work with an artist from a completely different perspective and language of expression and have it translate into your own.
If You Had The Chance To Create Your Own Project, What Would You Be Inspired By?
3. This hypothetical question is answered knowing full well that I can only speculate about my exact inspirations at the time of a similar future project, and would be best able to answer if I had an exact theme and team of artists to consider:
First of all, while my inspirations may have their own inherent origins within my nature and are just waiting to come out at the opportunity of creation, I am indeed highly impressionable and will feel inspired in various ways depending on with whom I am working. Similarly, I would need to know what resources were available to us.
That being said, when I hear the terms “collaborating with other disciplines”, my thoughts immediately race to Shadow Puppet Theatre. I am most familiar with it as I have produced (and plan to again in the future!) my own shows and mini series with music, characters, puppet designs, directing, set building etc. I also participated in the 2018 Catapult Workshop, led by guest artists of Manual Cinema, and hosted by Blair Thomas of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. There I was placed among various visual artists, poets, actors, and even art teachers to produce spontaneous shadow stories from random conglomerates of poetry.
While shadow puppet performances are (usually) performed on a screen towards which the audience is faced, the highlights from the Incubator 2019 video suggest that there are a near infinite number of ways to perform projects.
As a musician, I can of course offer musical performance/composition and interpretation, but as a creative artist of other mediums, I am curious about how many ways I would feel inspired. For example, what is/are our goal(s)? Can shadow theatre be an effective element of this production? How many ways can we interpret this? Are we telling a story? Are we inducing a feeling? Are we giving our opinion or making an informed presentation of all sides? In addition to the myriad questions and considerations I would have, the nature of a 5-day production schedule is very often, “The first idea is the right idea.” I would be very curious what kind of creativity and impulsivity I would be matched with!
Finally, I admire the concept of the Incubator project itself and look forward to having the chance to participate. One of the reasons I am so excited by Codarts is that it seems to have a rather fluid cross-pollinating student body with lots of opportunity for collaboration. My shadow puppet theatre plans are itching for the right cast of artists.
After Nick started his formal music education in 1995 at the age of eight on his family’s heirloom clarinet, he soon advanced to the Midwest Young Artists program, performing in the Symphony Orchestra and the Winds Quintet Ensemble. In 2001, Nick began playing the guitar, idolizing Jimmy Page. Luckily, there was an esteemed jazz program at one of the local high schools, and Nick was able to transfer to that program. By the end of high school, he was already writing music for a wide range of instruments and groups.
Nick’s formal guitar studies continued in the jazz program at Western Michigan University in 2005. Continually fascinated with classical music and the sound of the violin, he bought his first violin off eBay and immediately starting teaching himself. Later, in 2012, Nick became the first self-taught violinist to be accepted into the String Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he was pursuing majors as a guitarist in both Performance and Composition.
While living in Boston, Nick founded and completed several projects. Among them were Kaleidoscope Hurricane, a live free-improvisation group of rotating members, and his Modern Shadow Theatre, a full-immersion production of shadow puppetry and music with an original story for which Nick wrote, produced, directed, and performed.
In 2016, he recorded and released his first EP titled "Michigan", a collection of songs for guitar and string quartet originally written during his time in Michigan.
Over the most recent couple of years, Nick has been pursuing flamenco guitar wholeheartedly. He is currently the resident flamenco guitarist at Taberna de Haro, a highly awarded tapas bar near Boston.
Nick currently works as a guitar teacher for all ages and passionately strives to instill in his students the deep joy and life that music and the guitar bring him.