Guitarist and composer Jorge Caballero is the youngest musician and the only guitarist to win the Naumburg International Competition Award, one of the most prestigious and coveted awards given to performers of any instrument, and comparable to the Pulitzer Prize for musicians. He is known for his dazzling virtuosity, his intense musicality and his spellbinding performances. Widely regarded as one of the finest guitarists of his generation, Allan Kozzinn of the New York Times called him a "superb young guitarist" and praised his rare combination of "a deft, powerful technique and a soft-spoken interpretive persona."
Mr. Caballero has performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the New York Chamber Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic and the Presidential Symphony of Ankara, Turkey, among others. His recital appearances include performances at New York's Alice Tully Hall, the Library of Congress in Washington (in the historic Great Performers Series), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the Da Camera Society in Los Angeles and other venues in the United States and internationally. Recent performances include recitals at the Santo Tirso Guitar Festival in Portugal, as well as concerts in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico.
Mr. Caballero was featured as the center artist for the production of "Austin Pictures," one of the largest events ever produced featuring a solo classical guitar. The production took place at the Austin City Limits Live Theater and it involved visual arts, film, and Mr. Caballero's performance of Modest Mussorgsky's iconic work "Pictures at an Exhibition." The show was broadcasted live on National Public Radio (KUT 90.5 FM Austin), and on KLRU (PBS) National Television later.
In 2009, Mr. Caballero was called at the last minute to replace John Williams at the 18th edition of the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium, one of the most important guitar festivals in Europe. Reviews of the concert state that "From the first note, [Mr. Caballero] revealed a perfect mastery of guitar and music." Another critic said: "If I had not shaken hands with him, I would not have had the certainty of having seen a human being... The guitar proved to be a universal instrument with unlimited possibilities of orchestration and better than any other instrument."
Mr. Caballero recorded Antonin Dvorak's "New World" Symphony transcribed for solo guitar, a work that he is one of only two guitarists in the world to perform. His Musical Heritage CD of Bach Cello Suites, recorded in 2000, was highly praised by critics, drawing comparisons to Casals, Rostropovich and Segovia. He recently recorded "Alba," a one-movement work by American Composer Mark N. Grant, released last year on Albany Records. A recording of Bach keyboard works is in the planning stages, as well as a recording of Alban Berg's Piano Sonata Op. 1, also arranged by Mr. Caballero, and arguably one of the most important works ever arranged for the guitar. Earlier this year, Mr. Caballero was featured playing a 1940 Hauser I guitar (formerly played by Julian Bream) in three videos produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A native of Lima, Peru, Mr. Caballero comes from a musical family. His mother is a well-known singer in Peru and as a child he spent many evenings sitting backstage at her concerts. He learned to play guitar from his father, but he had already absorbed much knowledge about the instrument from listening to his father give lessons. Growing up at a time when terrorists in Peru bombed electrical stations, he became an expert at practicing in the dark.
He began his professional training at the National Conservatory in Lima, studying with Oscar Zamora. He later studied in the United States, where he attended the Manhattan School of Music. He is the recipient of top prizes at the Tokyo International Guitar Competition, the Luis Sigall Competition, and the First Latin American Guitar Competition, in addition to the Naumburg, which he won in 1996 at age 19.
Mr. Caballero's repertoire is notable for its breadth and scope: When he applied to the conservatory, his teacher suggested that perhaps he should list the pieces that he did not play, since there were so few of them. It ranges from Bach to Ginastera, from Paganini to Ponce, from Scarlatti and Dowland to Giuliani and Legnani, from Renaissance pieces for the vihuela to modern composers like Carter, Berio and Ferneyhough.