Charles Ramirez is a guitarist of rare skill. His concert career began at the Royal College of Music in London, where he first performed Joaquin Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ as a student in 1973, and a few months later gave his professional debut on London’s South Bank, establishing his reputation as an artist of exceptional skill and musicality.
He was appointed Professor of Guitar at the Royal College of Music when he was just 25 years old, a position he has held ever since, and has taught many of the world’s leading professionals. Charles has performed extensively in Britain and abroad, broadcasting regularly for BBC Radio 3. He also has a special interest in contemporary music and has given the world premier of several large-scale compositions, including ‘Nick’s Lament’ by Erika Fox, ‘Sonetos y Casidas del Amor Oscuro’ by Jeremy Dale-Roberts, ‘Toccata’ by John Lambert and ‘Shades V’ by Naresh Sohal.
He treasures a letter from the legendary Andres Segovia after he heard a live BBC broadcast of Charles and his wife, Helen Kalamuniak, playing their transcription for two guitars of ‘The Goldberg Variations’ by J.S. Bach. Segovia asked for a private performance, with the question, “Do you still have them under the fingers?” He praised this first ever transcription of the work, extolling the virtues of such an ambitious and successful project – “many of those variations are much better on the guitar than on the harpsichord, instrument about which I used to tease Wanda Landowska by saying that it was like a guitar which has caught strong cold”.
On Segovia’s death in 1987, Charles organised a tribute to him at the Royal College of Music, where he played Rodrigo’s ‘Fantasia for a Gentleman’, conducted by John Forster, in a concert that included performances by John Williams and Carlos Bonell.
Promoting the teaching of the classical guitar has always been a goal for Charles. He wrote the highly successful ‘Technical Development for Guitarists’ for Trinity College London. This was used for their grade exams for over a decade in over 80 countries. It continues to be a reference manual for many teachers and students. His approach to learning the guitar has been so successful that Charles is currently working with the internet learning company ‘Maestro Workshop’ on a new and innovative online tutoring programme for guitar, that will make its debut in 2011.
Charles’ favourite guitar was made for him in 1973 by the eminent guitar maker, Jose Luis Romanillos, who said, “Sound is beauty and we strive to capture it in every guitar”. He played this instrument exclusively for over 35 years. He now also plays guitars by Renato Barone and Teodoro Perez.
Charles and Helen live in London. They have three children and two grandchildren.