Welcome to our new Artist Feature Series! We will be releasing a new feature regularly and we are so excited to share this series with you. Without further ado, we present our first Flamenco artist. Daniel MacNeil has been an invaluable part of the Maria Osende Flamenco Co. and our flamenco community,since our very beginnings back in 2005. Well known as a talent with the Flamenco guitar in Atlantic Canada, Daniel is an esteemed musician and composer, what a treat to start this series with. We have given each of our artists a few questions, so that we can all discover a little more about their own flamenco stories.
Daniel is one of our flamenco musical super stars. He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator and a guitar virtuoso.
To hear some of his music, visit: http://danielmacneil.ca/
What is your relationship with Nova Scotia?
I was born here in Cape Breton.
What brought you to Atlantic Flamenco?
I’ve been working with Maria since her arrival in Nova Scotia.
What do you remember about your first encounter with Flamenco?
Although the overall sound of flamenco was quite foreign to me the first time I heard it, I remember feeling a direct connection to the passion, depth of emotional expression, and immediately took to the Phrygian tonality and rhythms used.
What prompted you to study flamenco?
I had already been playing guitar for 13 yrs. so taking up the guitar was an obvious choice. I also studied flamenco percussion and a little dance. I enjoy it all, but one only has so much time!
Which Flamenco artists inspire you the most and why?
There are too many to list, and each one unique in their own right. However, I will say that in the tradition, Ramón Montoya, Sabicas and Paco de Lucia especially have pushed the art form forward.
Are there any challenges you faced along the way? What did you do to move forward?
Yes, living in Nova Scotia, Canada was a challenge. I decided to make a number of trips to Spain (most of them for a few months at a time) to study and immerse myself in both the tradition and culture.
What do you think is the most important attribute or skill to have to progress in Flamenco?
You need a love for it, and, for guitar, you need determination because flamenco guitar is physically the most challenging style to play (I can attest to this because I have played all major styles of guitar).
What is your favourite Flamenco memory (eg studying, watching, performing)?
One of my favorite memories is from my first study trip to Madrid (2006). I lived with my guitar teacher at the time and we would go to a little hole-in-the-wall bar named Triana at night. The bar existed for flamenco singers to come all night long and the hired guitarist would have to improvise and “follow” every singer that would sing. If there was nobody singing, the guitarist would play guitar solos. I would sit and play palmas for the guitar and singers. It was here where I first became absorbed in flamenco as culture and not just music. It was here where I first began to learn how to improvise within the flamenco genre.
Anything else memorable about your flamenco journey that you would like to share?
There are too many…two treasured experiences include composing for and performing with various professional symphony orchestras throughout Canada with Compania Azul and the creation and performance of De España con Amor in Halifax and Ottawa with Maria and guest artists from Spain.
How have stayed connected to Flamenco during the last year of quarantine and distancing?
The pandemic is very unfortunate in many ways. I went literally nine months without performing, although that time was completely filled with research and writing of my masters degree. I stayed connected to flamenco by composing a number of new pieces. Hopefully they will get performed sooner than later for a live audience.
Any current or future projects you would like to tell us about?
I am always creating. When something will be shared next is a different story. Stay tuned! Once something happens I’ll post it on my website.
Thank you Daniel!
Career and achievements
Daniel has composed, arranged and performed with numerous professional symphony orchestras across Canada. He has composed for film and has recorded and composed for the CBC. He is a lecturer at the Fountain School of Performing Arts, Dalhousie University, and has also lectured at Acadia University. Daniel is a creative, active performer and collaborator, and is the director of a number of world music ensembles. He studied formally with world-class artists in Madrid from 2007 – 2010, and is the president of the World Music Society in Halifax, N.S. As an instructor, Daniel has been awarded the Teacher’s Gold Medal Award from the Royal Conservatory of Canada – 5 years in a row (classical guitar).
Daniel recently completed a Masters in Musicology at Dalhousie. His research topic is Politics, Tourism, and Festival in the Andalusian-Flamenco Culture in Morocco 2010-2020, with specific focus on the Festival of Atlantic Andalusia in Essaouira. Daniel argues that while the musicians are reshaping an exciting and hopeful future, the festival itself functions as a tool for diplomacy between Spain and Morocco, and that it is an instrument for economic growth, development and urban regeneration. He also brings to the forefront issues pertaining to identity politics and invented traditions. With consideration of dominant cultural and political values, he calls into question dominant ideologies of the state and whether or not the activities of the festival effectively supports the interests of the people of Essaouira, and more broadly, Morocco.