Amancio Prada (Dehesas (León) 1949). He studied Sociology at the University of the Sorbonne in Paris, and it was in that same city that he studied harmony, composition and guitar under Michel Puig and Silos Manos. After his debut there, playing alongside Georges Brassens in December 1972, Amancio Prada performed on radio, television and at various French universities. He releases his first record in France in 1974, Vida e Morte [Life and Death].
Returning to Spain in 1975, he recorded his first work dedicated to Rosalía de Castro and settled in Segovia, where he was to devote himself completely to composition. The results of this period were Caravel de Caraveles [Carnation of Carnations], Canciones de Amor y Celda [Songs of Love and from the Cell], Leila Doura and Cántico Espiritual [Spiritual Canticle]. The St. John of the Cross Spiritual Canticle marked the start of a series of recitals beginning in the Teatro Español in Madrid in February 1982. During that year he also recorded Canciones y Soliloquios [Songs and Soliloquies], on Agustín García Calvo´s poems, and started a concert tour which took him to the main North American universities. In the next few years, and following his presentation in Barcelona´s Palau de la Música, Milan´s Piccolo Theatre and Paris´s Odeon. He recorded De la Mano del Aire [Hand in hand with the Air] and Dulce Vino de Olvido [Sweet Wine of Oblivion]. His appearance in Madrid´s Teatro Real in the first annual Festival de Otoño, confirmed once more the unanimous critical acclaim that had been greeting his performances up to that point. The critics drew attention in particular to the depth of his work and his unusual artistic orientation, or as Edward Rothstein wrote it in The New York Times, “the flexibility of his timbre and his dramatic capacity on stage”. In 1986 he gave the first performance of Sonetos de Amor Oscuro [Dark Love Sonnets], from Federico García Lorca, in the Teatro María Guerrero of Madrid and under the direction of Lluis Pasqual, and started to work on his next album, A Dama e O Cabaleiro [The Lady and the Gentleman], based on the neo-troubadour poetry of Alvaro Cunqueiro. He then composed the songs for the record Navegando la Noche [Navigating the Night] in collaboration with the writer Manuel Vicent.
In 1990 he recorded a double album titled Trovadores, Místicos y Románticos [Troubadours, Mystics and Romantics], and presented its contents together with the Cántico Espiritual at the IVth Festival of Sacred Music in Maastricht, and in the Auditorio Nacional de Música, as part of the XIIIth Season of Chamber and Polyphonic Music. This was the start of a concert tour which was to take him to more than 80 Spanish cities in 1991. In 1992, in collaboration with Luis Fuente´s Ballet Company, he added to his repertoire the new show Canciones en Danza [Songs in Dance].
1994 saw an edition of Emboscados [Ambushed], an oratory on a long poem of Prada´s own for two solo voices and chamber group. In 1997 he recorded the album Rosas a Rosalía [Roses to Rosalía] with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia and joined by singers and actors Amelia Muge, Ginese Ortega, María del Mar Bonet, Marisa Paredes, María Dolores Pradera, Martirio, Nuria Espert and the Pandereiteras de Baio (a percussion group), once again paying homage to the Galician poetess Rosalía de Castro, who had been the inspiration for his first songs.
The album 3 Poetas en el Círculo [Three Poets at the Circle] (dedicated to the poets Cunqueiro, Lorca and García Calvo), of 1998, is his first live recording, made during the concerts in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. De Mar e Terra [From the Sea and Land] is his personal view on the oral tradition, and Escrito Está [It’s wrote] provides the title and the contents of a new recital, where Amancio Prada carries on his permanent search for emotion and beauty, with words and music bounding together and held up by the melodic arch.
His first cd-book in 2003, Canciones del Alma [Songs from the Soul] is again entirely devoted to Saint John of the Cross´s text. The recording includes the latest version of the Cántico Espiritual [Spiritual Canticle] and five new poems with music by Amancio Prada: The Night, The Fountain, The Flame, I live not within myself, and A carol, all of which are the work of Saint John. This edition commemorates the 25th anniversary of the earliest version of the Spiritual Canticle and its first performance in the Church of San Juan de los Caballeros (in Segovia) on Easter Saturday of 1977.
In 2004 he published his second cd-book Sonetos y Canciones by Federico García Lorca, a compilation of all his compositions inspired by the unparalleled poetry of Lorca. In 2005 he releases three cd-books: Hasta otro día Chicho [See you another day, Chicho], edited by the Joaquín Díaz Foundation and dedicated to his friend Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio; Rosalía, Siempre, as a new tribute to the poetic works of Rosalía de Castro, always present along his music career; and Huellas de Salamanca [Traces of Salamanca], live recorded during the concert in the Liceo Theater to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca.
In 2006 he releases Zamora, a live recorded cd-book from the IV Centenario del Teatro Principal de Zamora, with the intervention of the poets Juan Carlos Mestre and Agustín García Calvo. Concierto de Amor Vivo is a 2007 live recording from the church of Los Jerónimos in Madrid, played the 8th of June, together with the children choir of the Foundation Don Juan de Borbón of Segovia.
Later on he works on the translation of the songs by french composer Léo Ferré, to whom he dedicates his next album, Vida de Artista [Artist´s Life].
In 2010 he publishes three cd-books and a cd-album. The text of Coplas a la Muerte de su Padre of Jorge Manrique, by the editorial Casariego, has watercolors and frotages by Juan Carlos Mestre and calligraphies by Pablo González. The poetry editorial of Vaso Roto released in this innovative cd-book format two of the main works by Amancio Prada: Emboscados and the Cántico Espiritual and other songs of San Juan de la Cruz.
Due to the 1.100 anniversary of the Reino de León [Leon Kingdom], he composed the music of a selection of songs and medieval romances for his cd entitled Del amor que quita el sueño [From the love that disturbs the sleep].
The poet Juan Carlos Mestre said during the presentation of Del amor que quita el sueño: “In tune with his own path, with these Romances y Canciones desde el Reino de León Amancio Prada goes back to the anthology of lyrical love that only lingers in the wind; the delicate forms of gallantry from the Middle Ages that are today impatiently awaiting the promises of dawn: the supremacy of courtly love and dreams about history; life sung from its pure desire to original beauty. The passion and brevity of life, the longing for freedom and the knowing smile of lovers who remain today, as then, the most touching and beautiful testimony of popular wisdom against power and death. Guitars and hurdy-gurdy, flutes and lute, mandolin and accordion, cellos and harp give new space to the draught of imagination in order to let breathe the graceful wisdom of anonymous tradition. And the miracle of minstrelsy, the beautiful and innocent love wars that cause us to lose sleep, become accomplice songs of sweetness in his voice, faithful as a rigorous solitary bird as Amancio Prada continues to be.”
In the beginnig of 2011, Amancio Prada was invited by José Luis Gómez to perform for the first time in the Teatro de la Abadía the Coplas a la muerte de su padre [Coplas on the death of his father] by Jorge Manrique. This concert was offered in alternation with the Cántico Espiritual of Saint John of the Cross, defining a fundamental diptych to the Spanish lyric. Both shows were stage directed by Carlos Aladro and took place between 20 January and 6 February.
In April 2013 the spectacle A Rosalía de Federico was presented in the Teatro Español of Madrid, scenic dialogue between Amancio Prada and two of the most essential voices of Spanish poetry: Federico García Lorca and Rosalía de Castro. This concert, that also premiered the new compositions of Seis Poemas Gallegos de Lorca [Six Poems by Lorca] and the Salutación [Salutation] to Rosalía de Castro, was conceived from an idea by José Luis Gómez, with poetic itinerary by Juan Carlos Mestre and direction of Carlos Aladro.
In October 2013 he publishes a new album-book dedicated to the poet and philosopher from Zamora, Agustín García Calvo, whose title refers to one of his most emblematic songs, Libre te quiero [Free is how I love you]. Besides the cd containing all songs and poems made by Amancio from García Calvo´s, the new album includes a DVD recording of the concert given by Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio, Agustín and Amancio in the Teatro Español of Madrid, on November 1982. Basilio Martín Patino has chosen the song Libre te quiero as title and soundtrack of his latest film, a documentary on the Spanish movement of 15-M.
In 2014 the publishing company Vaso Roto edits the audio book Federico García Lorca, poeta en Galicia [Federico García Lorca, poet in Galicia]. The songs that are composed are the six that Federico wrote in the Galician language, as well as “Salutación elegíaca a Rosalía de Castro”. The book is illustrated by Juan Carlos Mestre.
Amancio Prada performs for the first time the stage concert La voz descalza [The bare voice] in Ávila, 28 March 2015 as a part of the commemorative events of the V Centennial of the birth of Teresa de Jesús, making up the contents of the following cd-book La voz descalza. The illustrations are once again done by Juan Carlos Mestre.
The same year, 2 October, in the Teatro Monumental of Madrid along with the Orchestra and Choir of Spanish Television and Radio (RTVE), directed by the composer Fernando Velázquez, was the symphonic version of the Cántico espiritual of San Juan de la Cruz [Spiritual Canticle of San Juan de la Cruz] and the songs of Teresa de Jesús, esposa de la canción [Teresa de Jesús, wife of the song]. The concert was held in the Palace of Carlos V of the Alhambra during the Festival of Granada, 26 June 2016.