Interview: Roberto Fonseca @ Royal Northern College of Music – March 24

By Katie Rowley

Cuban pianist extraordinaire, Roberto Fonseca, is bringing his sultry Latin American swagger to the RNCM this Saturday as part of his new tour.

Yo (it’s Spanish for ‘me’) may well see Roberto at the helm of the show, but it is also a look back at his Caribbean roots and the vast selection of influences that shaped his music – weaving red-hot grooves and sensuous lyricism with forward thinking electronic beats, he’s looking to shake things up in Manchester.

Fonseca grew up through one of our favourite Cuban exports (alongside cigars and rum), the famous Buena Vista Social Club, and more recently collaborated with eclectic DJ Gilles Peterson on their Havana Cultura project.

Mancunian Matters caught up with Roberto during a well earned break from rehearsals.

MM: Hi Roberto, hope you’re well – where exactly are you at the moment?

RF: Hi, I’m in Paris, rehearsing with the band.

MM: You’ve played in some of the world’s grandest venues, the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House – how are you feeling about performing in Manchester?

RF: Every venue is important, for its own cultural history and in each one I try to give the best concert ever because the audience deserves to have the best from an artist.  It doesn’t matter if it is the most famous theatre in the world or in someone’s house.

In Manchester it is going to be a great show, and my musicians and myself we will give it our all.

MM: Afro-Cuban music offers something quite different from the rest of the mainstream market – do you like the idea of trying to integrate yourself into popular music or is it a genre that will always be very distinct from anything else?

RF: I will always be connected to popular music as it reflects each country’s urban areas.  It is something that is in constant creation and development. 

MM: When it comes to dream collaborations you’ve already worked with the some of the biggest names in jazz, from Ibrahim Ferrer to Rubén González – who’s been your greatest inspiration for the music you make?

RF: My biggest inspiration has been my family, as it has been them who taught how walk along this musical path, and I have also learnt so much from everyone who I have played.  I have to say that you learn from everyone, even from the smallest.

MM: Yes, it’s fair to say that music runs in your family: your parents and brothers are all musicians too, it certainly seems you were destined to become a performer – where do you think you’d have ended up if you weren’t doing this job?

RF: I can’t imagine myself without music.  I think that I wouldn’t exist because music is my life. 

MM: And finally, we’ve been blessed with some sunny weather here these last few days which seems to have got everyone in the mood for summer – what have you got lined up for the summer months?

RF: Concerts!  Really good ones – I’m really looking forward to them and playing live – it’s going to be great cause the musicians that I’m performing with have such energy, the shows are going to be rocking!


Check out Roberto’s music at 

Tickets for his show at the RNCM this Saturday 24 at 7.30pm start at £15. 0161 907 5555

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