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Arts & Culture

The sounds of España: Guitar virtuoso Maria Camahort performs in Lehigh Valley fundraiser

Micaela Hood
Maria Camahort, a Spanish guitarist, performed at Lehigh Valley Public Media on Dec. 22, 2023.

BETHLEHEM, PA. — The sounds of classic Spanish guitar music filled the air as Maria Camahort passionately strummed on each string.

Camahort, an award-winning and classically trained musician, performed at "A Winter on the Mediterranean," inside the dimly-lit studio at Lehigh Valley Public Media on Friday.

Lehigh Valley Public Media includes PBS39, WLVR 91.3 FM and LehighValleyNews.com.

Family ties, fundraiser

Although she has performed in the States before, it was Camahort's first time wowing a crowd in the Lehigh Valley.

During the setlist, she introduced the crowd to each song, a mix of Valencian, Catalan and flamenco tunes, that also included a selection of her own material.

At one point, Camahort, who teaches music in Barcelona, demonstrated with her hands how she combines different uses of the guitar, from the strings to the tuning peg, to create a unique sound.

Throughout each melody, she held onto the wooden piece, plucking while her hands moved up and down gracefully as if they were dancing — performer and guitar onstage as one.

The serene music matching the twinkly winter-like lights that shone behind her in the room.

She was invited to perform by her sister, Núria Camahort, and brother-in-law Nacho Abia, chief strategy officer and executive director at Olympus Corp., who both hosted the event.

Núria Camahort is the author of the children's book "Magic of Amigo," and a curriculum developer who works with local schools in helping distribute reading materials to children in the Lehigh Valley.

Tickets to the concert cost $75 and included wine provided by the Wine Merchant and tapas by Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar and Yianni's Taverna.

The money raised will go toward providing 6,000 books to kids across the Valley as part of PBS39's educational outreach programs.

A surprise setlist

As the concert concluded, Maria Camahort surprised her oldest sister with one last tune — a favorite that they used to listen as children together in their hometown of Valencia, Spain.

The audience smiled and gasped with excitement, touched by the sisters' camaraderie, as Núria Camahort swayed to the music, leading the audience into a standing ovation.

She elaborated on her sister's lifelong dedication to music.

"What I remember is being 19 or 20 years old, we are 10 years apart, so she was nine or 10 and she couldn't go to the beach before she practiced maybe three hours on the guitar, because if you wet your nails, then they are tough," Nuria Camahort said.

"I was like 'wow,' such a sacrifice when you're nine and ten, don't go to the beach when your friends go, just to wait to play three hours of guitar, and then go."

After spending the holidays with her family, Maria Camahort, whose albums include 2015's "Iberian Colors," and 2018's "Danzas, Canciones y Nanas,” will begin promoting her new project, "Barcelona-Paris," slated for a 2024 release.

"I'm more now into composition, so my dream for next year is to probably get a good commission, so I can write for a big ensemble with guitar," she said. "That would be my dream."