New Album Release Online

Durrant Y Ledesma


Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma have launched their eagerly awaited album Durrant y Ledesma. This album of guitar and harp music is a stunning collection of originals for guitar and harp written by both musicians; full of Paraguayan passion and rhythms teamed with European melodies.

It was the sheer joy of playing and the success of their performances that led these two leading soloists to record their first duo album: Durrant y Ledesma

But don’t just take our word for it! CLICK HERE to listen to this amazing sample track: La Balada del Indio.

Richard met Ismael in London when he was performing at the Bolivar Hall for the Ambassador of Paraguay.  Their first concert tour together came some months later in October 2016.  This whistle-stop, six date UK adventure began just one day after they played together for the very first time.  The audience reaction was incredible and it quickly became clear that producing an album was a must!

Ismael Ledesma is a cultural ambassador for Paraguay although he has based himself in France for thirty years.  He was invited to France by his uncle Kike Lucena after he finished school. He then joined the Paris circle of Latin American musicians whilst studying at the Paris Music Conservatoire. Ismael is now a successful international soloist.

English guitarist and composer Richard Durrant is no stranger to South America. During his first visit to Paraguay he was honoured as an ‘Esteemed Visitor’ to the capitol city,  Asuncion. He has appeared twice as soloist with the national orchestra, released a successful trilogy of Paraguayan albums and published a book of stories and music ‘The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay’ which catalogues his adventures and introduces guitarists to the new music he has uncovered over recent years.

Richard and Ismael will be performing together in Asuncion, Paraguay this April to mark Ismael’s 35th Anniversary tour.  In June they’ll be undertaking a short UK tour featuring music from their new album.

Durrant y Ledesma is released through Proper music Distribution. Catalogue No: TBD 002CD

The recording is now available online as mp3 files as well as studio mastering quality 96-24 files in FLAC or ALAC album zip format – only available from  www.richarddurrant.com



Stringhenge takes to the Road

Meet the Paraguayan harpist who hails from Paris

Ismael Ledesma

In the second part of our interviews into the background to Richard Durrant’s collaboration with the Paraguayan harpist Ismael Ledesma, Nicholas Keyworth caught up with Ismael who now lives in Paris.

Ismael explains the chance meeting with Richard which began their collaboration:

A friend of mine, Robert Munro, invited me to hear Richard in concert in London. From the very first notes I was spellbound by his music and his personality. I went to find him after the concert and I found him to be really friendly. Robert Munro invited Richard around to his house near Oxford. He played his guitar and I played him a bit of harp, and, voilà, the magic began!

I was fascinated to hear more about this unusual pairing of instruments and how it works in practice. Ismael explained:

The guitar and the harp go very well together and it’s quite a common combination in Paraguay. But the combination of me and Richard is particularly interesting because we are both soloists with freedom of spirit and in two completely different worlds. We are both totally in service to the music and we want to share this combination and show that two very different personalities from two very different parts of the globe can give happiness to the world!

Ismael went on to explain more about the musical points of connection between the duo:

Our point of connection is the the freedom of music and the desire to play together. Richard loves my music, and I love his, and we both have the freedom to come together and share the variety from our two cultures. 

Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma

Being authentic in musical performance is a big thing these days. I asked Ismael to what extent the music they play is true to its Paraguayan roots – or are they creating something new? 

We become authentic as soon as we become different from others. In my case, my Paraguayan roots are ever present but I think that I’m unusual because I’m a creator and I don’t copy others. I write my own music and I believe in it. I’ve chosen the most difficult path, and I’ve faced conservatism that wanted to wound me or criticise me. It has been hard, but not impossible. As well as being an interpreter, I consider myself as someone who respects the work of the composer. Richard is an interpreter as well as a creator who brings something different to the music!

Finally, I asked Ismael how collaborations like theirs can continue to thrive in a possible future political climate of change with Brexit and the danger of drifting apart. He gave me a typically pragmatic answer:

Music has no boundaries and and this is what gives Richard and I great pleasure because we embrace the freedom and the union of two totally different cultures. We always find a way to come together and play. This time, I’m crossing the Channel to meet up with him. The next time it will be he who comes to me, and we also have the freedom to go elsewhere. England and France will never be separated – we all need each other!

Hear Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma live in concert 11-14 October in London, Shoreham-by-Sea, Crawley, Edinburgh, Scopwick and Swindon.

5 things you didn’t know about Richard Durrant

Richard Durrant's cycling tour

Guitarist and raconteur Richard Durrant may be a regular performer at the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham-by-Sea but this Saturday offers a rare opportunity to witness something rather special… purely acoustic and in the round.

So here are five things you might not have known about this extraordinary musician…

1.    Richard Durrant is unplugged

Richard will perform this show completely acoustic and unplugged on a 6 string Concert Guitar by Gary Southwell and 4 string Tenor Guitar by Ian Chisholm.

2.    More than a guitarist…

In addition to all these guitars Richard also plays ukulele and a variety of other instruments including cello.

3.    A composer too!

Richard is also an accomplished composer and recently premiered his long lost Clarinet Sonata as well as ‘The Girl at the Airport’ for guitar and strings with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Girl At The Airport

4.    A Paraguayan music explorer

Richard has just completed a five year project  including visiting and exploring the colourful landscape, culture and music of Paraguay. 

5.    And a musical cyclist

For the last two years Richard cycled over 3,000 miles playing 50 Cycling Music concerts around England and Scotland.

Richard Durrant's cycling tour

Richard Durrant’s cycling tour

This Saturday, 24 September: Ropetackle at its most intimate. 

A unique musical collaboration for a Paraguayan adventure

Ismael Ledesma

Richard Durrant’s collaboration with a Paraguayan harpist living in Paris might seem unusual, but as Richard explains it is a perfect match and opens up so many opportunities:

“In Paraguay the harp is a deeply social instrument, it often accompanies dancing and, in many ways evokes the sound of Paraguay. It is quite usual for a guitarist to join the musical party, but only to underpin the rhythm and harmony, never to play the tune. I really look forward to letting my guitar stir this up a bit and I know Ismael’s harp will respond.”

How did you meet Ismael and what is your attraction to Paraguayan music?

“A recurring theme for me has been Paraguayan music.The country’s most famous son – guitarist composer Agustín Barrios – was my initial attraction but after three solo tours in Paraguay I had become more been immersed in the music of this beautiful part of south America. Ismael attended a concert I was giving at the Bolivar Hall in London as one of the launch events for my Paraguayan CD trilogy. Ismael and I chatted afterwards and it was apparent that we had more than age in common. The opportunity to collaborate with on of the greatest Paraguayan harpists was just too exciting and fascinating an opportunity to miss.”

Ismael Ledesma

Ismael Ledesma

So where are the points of connection with you each coming from very different musical and cultural backgrounds?

“Ismael and I have dedicated our working lives to music and to our instruments. With that lifetime of concentrating on tiny finger movements and incredible sonic detail there is much that is purely intuitive between us and the outcome is both fascinating and unexpected. Paraguay is a small, landlocked, heart shaped country in the very centre of the southern cone of South America and this is our point of connection – la música del corazón!”

Are you playing music which is authentic to its Paraguayan roots – or are you creating something new?

“Ismael plays a Paraguayan harp, but it’s a harp that is European in origin and the instrument appears throughout south America. So the strongest aspects of Ismael’s playing are Paraguayan, but some are pan south American and some are purely original. I speak some of the language of Paraguayan music and I can hear the layers of the colonial as well as the Paraguayan/Guarani so beloved by Barrios himself. This means that Paraguay will be at the centre of what we play, but my guitar playing has to feel free and unconstrained and for me therein lies true authenticity.”

Richard Durrant

Richard Durrant

“Geographically you are now both fairly close, but how will Brexit affect collaborations like yours in a political climate of change?

“I’ve watched politics for many years and have seen real cause for hope as 21st century technologies benefit from that exponential curve of computing power bringing hope for our environment and for ordinary people across the globe. So why has humanity’s almost divine brilliance so far been unable to create a compassionate, professional and trustworthy political system?  And just when the European project seemed to be steering towards such a thing – at least in ethos – how could so many ordinary people return to the xenophobic and the self interested to create something as negative as Brexit?

Musicians and artists  are accustomed to surviving against the odds, its what we have to do and its in our nature, so cross cultural collaborations will always exist. I worry more about the future for the rest of us when we have so deliberately stacked the odds against ourselves. If they vote for Trump in the US at least he’ll be controlled to some degree by the senate until he’s kicked out, but for Europe there is no way back.

However, I celebrate the positivity of music and feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing. My optimism and energy is fuelled by the sound of my strings and the strength and generosity of my audiences.”

Hear Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma live in concert 11-14 October in London, Shoreham-by-Sea, Crawley, Edinburgh, Scopwick and Swindon.