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Spain's premiere musicians in concert

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

Since their founding in 1960 by legendary classical guitarist Celedonia Romero, the Romeros have been known worldwide as "The Royal Family of the Guitar." This week the quartet makes its George Mason University Center for the Arts debut together with Concerto Malaga, a 13-piece string ensemble led by their close friend, Massimo Paris.

After the passing of their father, Celin, Pepe and Angel Romero continued performing internationally. Angel has since gone on his own, while the quartet today is comprised of Celin, Pepe, Celin's son Celino, and Angel's son Lito.

"We're elated to go on tour again with Concerto Malago," Celin said. "We toured Europe together at Christmas time last year performing a Christmas suite Paris composed, excerpts from 'The Messiah,' Schubert's 'Ave Maria,' and Spanish Christmas carols. The music is on our "Christmas with Los Romeros" recording released by Deutsche Grammophon last year. We have great compatibility with Paris and all the players who come from our native city of Malaga. We love the way they play and their wonderful sense of humor that makes it fun to make music and travel with them.

"When we were driving by bus through Germany last year, it was snowing and the highways were dangerously icy. As the bus was sliding one way and the other, their harpsichordist told jokes to make us scream with laughter instead of fear. We've enjoyed traveling for 20 years, and even though we might be tired at the end of a trip, we rush to the hall. The moment we get there, we're excited and ready to play."

Onstage
The Romeros and Concerto Malaga
Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax
When: 8 p.m. Saturday; pre-performance discussion by guitarist Larry Snitzler
Info: $23 to $46; 888-945-2468; cfa.gmu.edu

The Romeros have performed in great halls, before presidents, the Pope and Prince Charles. Celin and Pepe were knighted by His Royal Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain into the Order of "Isabel la Catolica," Spain's highest honor. Already two of Celin's grandsons aged 15 and 11 play beautifully, a promise that a fourth generation may be on the way.

"We never push them, but I can see the joy they have playing and know they really love it," he said. "It's the nature of the Spanish to enjoy whatever they are doing. I relate to all the audiences we meet whether I'm playing in China, Australia, Europe or anywhere else in the world. I've loved every minute I've been on stage sharing music with people."

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