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Leading jazz guitarists from Austria, Brazil, Spain and U.S. are headed to La Jolla

Leading guitarists from around the world are La Jolla-bound
Five leading guitarists from around the world are set to perform at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
(Photo illustration by Gregory Schmidt / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The fact that five internationally celebrated jazz guitarists from four countries are embarked on U.S. tours that include concerts at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla between Feb. 1 and March 2 may qualify as musical manna for six-string fans.

Two of them, Austria’s Wolfgang Muthspiel and Spain’s Oscar Peñas, will be making their San Diego debuts. The others — Brazil’s Romero Lubambo and Chico Pinheiro and New York native Mimi Fox — are established audience favorites here.

After 33 years of expanding the cultural footprint of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, Executive Director Erika Torri has announced she will retire June 30, leaving the La Jolla institution in the hands of someone she hopes will mark the community as she has.

“The fact that the guitar is an instrument that many people can play a bit — unlike the cello, for example — is dear to me,” said Muthspiel, who opens the Athenaeum series on Tuesday, Feb. 1. “It has so many layers and there is still so much to discover on the guitar. There are thousands of approaches to this instrument.”

“The guitar is a most majestic instrument because of the beauty and immediacy it provides for player and listener alike,” said Fox, whose Athenaeum performance on Wednesday, Feb. 23, will mark her area debut with the San Francisco String Trio. The group also features Danish violinist Mads Tolling and former San Diego bassist Jeff Denson.

“When two hands and six strings come together, a special alchemy takes hold,” Fox said. “For me, I love the vibration of the wood against my body and the endless challenges [that] mastering the instrument provides.”

Pinheiro agreed.

“It is a fascinating instrument in the sense that you can carry it with you anywhere — like a true orchestra. A portable orchestra,” he said. His concert on Sunday, Feb. 6, at the Athenaeum will be in a guitar duo with his countryman, Lubambo.

Chico Pinheiro performs during the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert in 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro performs during the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert in 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
(Graham Denholm / Getty Images)
Mimi Fox calls the guitar "a most majestic instrument."
(Grason Littles / Courtesy of San Francisco String Trio)
Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel will make his San Diego debut at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library on Feb. 1.
(Laura Pleifer / Courtesy of Wolfgang Muthspiel)
Barcelona native Oscar Peñas has become one of Spain's most notable jazz musicians.
(David Roth)
Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo's concert Feb. 6 at the Athenaeum will be with countryman Chico Pinheiro.
Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo’s concert on Sunday, Feb. 6, at the Athenaeum will be with countryman Chico Pinheiro.
(Piu Dip / Courtesy of Romero Lubambo)

Athenaeum 2022 winter jazz series

All concerts are at 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1: Wolfgang Muthspiel Trio, featuring Scott Colley and Brian Blade

Feb. 6: Romero Lubambo and Chico Pinheiro

Feb. 23: San Francisco String Trio, featuring Mimi Fox, Jeff Denson and Mads Tolling

March 2: Oscar Peñas Quartet, featuring Sara Caswell, Motohito Fukushima and Richie Barshay

Where: Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla

Tickets: $35 per concert for members and $40 for non-members; series tickets are $132 for members and $152 for non-members

Health protocols: All guests must be masked and provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 48 hours before each concert.

Information: (858) 454-5872 or ljathenaeum.org