Bandoneon player, composer and musical director, Romulo Larrea is recognized as one of the leaders on the international Tango scene. His career path has been marked by unusual strength of character that is limitless.
Born in Montevideo (Uruguay), Larrea began his bandoneon study at the age of ten with Professor Rolando Gavioli. In the 1960s, he formed his first ensemble, began composing, recorded his first album and worked with several orchestras in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Larrea went to Quebec (Canada) at the end of the 1970s and founded the first Tango group. He is known for having introduced Tango to Montreal. At the end of the 1980s, Larrea worked with Master Astor Piazzolla in South America. When he returned to Montreal, Larrea made his debuts as soloist with the Quebec Symphonic Orchestra. He developed a new musical approach that led to the creation of the Romulo Larrea Tango Ensemble.
Larrea added tours throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and South America. He has performed in several concert halls including at the Wiesbaden Kurpark (Rheingau Festival), Teatro Alvear and Teatro San Martin in Buenos Aires, at the Vaz Ferreira concert hall in Montevideo, at Orange County Performing Arts Centre in California, at the Metropolitan in New York, at Town Hall Theatre – Broadway, at Meany Hall Theater, Washington, at Place des Arts de Montréal, at Palais Montcalm and Grand Théâtre de Québec and at the National arts Centre in Ottawa.
He has shared the stage with renowned francophone artists such as Michel Sardou, Claude Léveillée, Bruno Pelletier, Sylvain Lelièvre and Claude Dubois. Larrea also performed with Piazzolla's collaborators: cellist José Bragato and poet Horacio Ferrer, as well as guitarists Alvaro Pierri and Aniello Desiderio, flutist Timothy Hutchins, cellist Antonio Lysy and Julius Berger, violinist Paul Rozcek, clarinetist André Moisan, pianist Pascal Rogé and saxophonist Nard Reijnders. In 1999 he received the Félix Award as Arranger of the year and in 2010 he received the ROSEQ Lifetime Achievement Recognition award. Larrea is also a member and delegate for Quebec of the Academia National del Tango of Argentina.
He is the creator of the shows Tango First Century, Le Tango de chez nous, Homenaje a Astor Piazzolla, Tangos... para La Milonga, Tango Sinfónico, Piazzolla y sus contemporáneos, Tango du cœur, Sinfonía del Ángel, Spotlight on Tango, TANGO: from Gardel to Piazzolla, TANGO For lovers only and TANGO: a passion of a lifetime.
The bandoneon is a free-reed instrument. It is traditionally diatonic but also exists in a chromatic version. Shortly after the invention of the concertina and the accordion, German Heinrich Band (1821-1860) used them as inspiration and created the bandoneon to replace the organ in processions. Developed and perfected in Germany, the bandoneon came to accompany chants in churches. With the wave of immigration to South America, the instrument integrated itself into more secular musical styles and became intimately associated with tango, of which he has become its soul.
Photos: Frank Rosenstein, Denis Beaumont, Marcel Dubois, Sjaak Peters et Denis Beaumont for the bandonéon.