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Guillermo Rios


Currently Guillermo lives and teaches in the Los Angeles, California area and works as a solo guitarist, Flamenco dance accompanist, and for nine years has been building and repairing guitars (a luthier) at Long Beach Guitar Repair, specializing in Flamenco guitars.


In September 1972, Guillermo Rios stepped off a plane in Madrid, Spain and began realizing a lifelong dream.  A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, he received his degree in English literature in 1968 and was subsequently commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.  By 1972, Captain Rios had completed two long combat tours in Vietnam and recovered from his wounds.  He arrived in Madrid at the age of twenty-six armed with fluent spanish and a burning desire to learn the Flamenco guitar.


Guillermo’s principal teacher was Juan Maya “Marote” - an artist of legendary knowledge with an incredible delivery.  “Marote” immediately declared that a twenty-six-year-old beginner could progress as far as anyone else, and that Guillermo would be able to start working as a Flamenco guitarist within two years; the only precondition was that Guillermo had to faithfully execute every detail of the maestro’s instruction.


Less than two years later, Guillermo was allowed to play alongside veteran musicians in Madrid’s Flamenco clubs where he began to accrue the enormous skills required of every professional.  For the next eight years, Guillermo worked the requisite seven-nights-a-week in the clubs: Torres Bermejas, Arco de Cuchilleros, and five continuous years in Las Cuevas de Nemesio.  He was then hired to tour Spain, Europe and Canada with the prestigious companies of Carmen Mora, Manolete Maya (Juan’s brother), Mariano Torres and Ricardo El Pelao.  He continued to study with Juan Maya - now his son’s godfather - as well as with Pepe Habichuela.  Counting the great Sabicas as one of his intimate friends, Rios constantly and respectfully grilled him about the art of Flamenco guitar.


 In 1983 Guillermo joined the Maria Benitez Dance Company and was her leading guitarist and musical director for five years.  Since then, he has appeared with every major Spanish dance company in the US, notable those lead by Jose Greco, Jose Greco II, Rosa Montoya, Jose Molina, and La Tania.  


Together with Rosa Montoya, Guillermo was awarded a grant for new music from Meet the Composer in New York; this was the first time the committee had every awarded it’s grant to a Flamenco guitarist.  Concurrent with his ensemble activities, Guillermo also developed a solo career and in 1983 was awarded a Canada Council Arts Grant for for compositional studies with Pepe Habichuela.  Guillermo has given solo concerts with his friend and teacher Juan Maya and with Mario Escudero throughout the USA, Spain and Canada.


In 1991, Guillermo became a member of the quarter Festival of Four, formerly known as A Festival of Strings.  With this group he had the good fortune to collaborate for four years with Emanuil Sheynkman, a highly esteemed Russian national who was considered a balalaika and mandolin virtuoso.  Sheynkman helped Guillermo adapt to the way classical musicians conceive, hear and play their music.  Now that Mr. Sheynkman is gone, the quarter consists of three guitarists and a flautist.  Festival of Four tours have been long and successful.  The group is currently on the roster of the Community Concerts Association.


Guillermo has also worked with the great Indian parodist Aashish Khan, and regularly collaborates with Pepe Habichuela on a variety of projects.  Guillermo lives and teaches in the Los Angeles, California area and journeys to Spain frequently to visit old friends.  He has three children.

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