Published: 08/08/2014 09:06 - Updated: 08/08/2014 09:21

It takes (just) two to tango at Eden Court

Martin Alvarado
Martin Alvarado

A MEETING of musicians from South America and northern Europe will bring the warm sounds of tango to the Highlands and Aberdeenshire.

Buenos Aires-born singer and guitarist Martín Alvarado has been carving out an increasingly successful career over the past 11 years after being discovered singing in the streets of Barcelona in 2002.

His tenor voice caught the ear of two Finns and they encouraged him to head to their home country where tango is a national pastime. It was a good move. Within weeks of arriving there, he was spotted again and invited to perform with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra.

After that his solo career took off and he has since performed more than 500 times, playing many major classical music venues, including three times at St Petersburg’s Shostakovich Philharmonic Hall and also at the Sibelius Academy’s Helsinki Music Centre.

In his latest 10-day UK tour, which takes in dates in Cambridge and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as well as Inverness, Arisaig and Huntly, he will perform with one of the tango loving musicians he met in Finland, classically trained pianist and bandoneonista Mikko Helenius, with whom he is producing one of several new albums he plans on releasing in the near future.

His fourth album was released last year on one of the leading world music labels, Riverboat Records.

It won the praise of BBC Radio 3 presenter Mary Ann Kennedy, who was seen at Eden Court herself with her Commonwealth Biennial Commission Aiseag (The Ferryboat) who praised his "completely beguiling tenor" and four stars in UK world music magazine Songlines.

Last year Alvarado also won the Latin UK Award for Concert by International Artist of the Year.

"I am very happy to be coming back to the UK," Alvarado said.

"The audiences there have been very sensitive and respectful of what it is I am creating in tango.

"I hope there will be some time to see something of Inverness and the Highlands as I enjoy spending time in inspiring places before I perform. I also hope to swim in Scotland. I swim a lot in Finland — so I am very used to cold water!"

With Helenius, who has the ability to play both piano and bandoneón at the same time, Alvarado will perform a carefully chosen repertoire which includes new tangos, work by some of Argentina’s most notable poets and composers, and one or two of his own compositions.

"The quality of the poetry in tango songs is important to me as a vocalist because I like to sing with a kind of artistic honesty," Alvarado explained.

"There are several poets whose work I admire, but I also like to present tango as a ‘living language’ which is constantly evolving rather than sounding like something that is rooted in a particular period of history, so some of my repertoire is relatively new work and it is unlikely that many people in the UK will have come across these songs."

• Martin Alvarado and Mikko Helenius will be at the Astley Hall, Arisaig, on Friday 8th August; the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, on Saturday 9th August; and The Gordon Arms Hotel, Huntly, on Sunday 10th August.

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