Guitar Musician Pablo Sáinz-Villegas performs on April 5 at Zoellner Art Center. Sáinz-Villegas recieved the Critical Eye Award for classical music in 2008. (Ruoxuan Li/B&W Staff)

Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas performs for the community


Zoellner Arts Center hosted a performance by Pablo Sáinz-Villegas, a highly acclaimed Spanish classical guitarist, on April 5 in Baker Hall.

After being postponed for nearly two years because of COVID-19, Lehigh University was able to welcome Sáinz-Villegas to the stage. His repertoire included songs from various Spanish backgrounds and lasted about an hour and a half.

Sáinz-Villegas said he looked forward to connecting with the Lehigh community through his performance.

“When I share music, then there’s something special going on,” Sáinz-Villegas said. “It is like, if every time I share music I have the opportunity to have a glimpse of the audience’s souls, and that’s powerful, that’s intense, that’s transforming for me and for them.”

Sáinz-Villegas performs in both intimate recital halls and large audiences, such as Baker Hall, both of which he said he enjoys.

Guitar Musician Pablo Sáinz-Villegas introduces the next song on April 5 at Zoellner Art Center. Sáinz-Villegas recieved the Critical Eye Award for classical music in 2008. (Ruoxuan Li/B&W Staff)

However, it doesn’t matter where he plays or for whom, Sáinz-Villegas said, but rather the emotions of human beings that make people equal in an audience.

“My purpose is to play for people,” Sáinz-Villegas said. “People is what defines my purpose, and people are what really shaped and have given special meaning to my purpose and to the music I play.” 

Mark Wilson, the executive director of Zoellner Arts Center, said it is important that Zoellner hosts artists like Sáinz-Villegas as a part of their programming. He said he was glad they were able to reschedule his performance.

“We wanted to make sure that the ecosystem for the agents and artists continued strong,” Wilson said. “When you look at Pablo, he helps us be able to reach both into the community, which we want to do, and also broaden our cultural programming.”

Wilson said after organizing the show in Baker Hall, he reached out to Zoellner’s local partners to see if they’d be interested in hearing Sáinz-Villegas, as well. They were. 

Sáinz-Villegas gave two performances, both in Baker Hall: one for community members and students from nearby Bethlehem schools earlier in the day and one for the Lehigh community in the evening. 

One of the partners Zoellner contacted was the Hispanic Center. Together, they organized a van from Lehigh University Transportation to bring 36 senior citizens to the daytime concert. 

“It was an expense that Zoellner said we would be happy to help with – to provide a cultural experience for these seniors because we don’t want anything to be a barrier for people to enjoy the arts,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he was pleased to make the performance an intergenerational event.

Madison Banks, ‘24, was an attendee at the performance. She said it was her first time she had heard classical guitar music, an experience she enjoyed.

Guitar Musician Pablo Sáinz-Villegas thanks to the audience on Tuesday April 5 at Zoellner Art Center. Sáinz-Villegas recieved the Critical Eye Award for classical music in 2008. (Ruoxuan Li/B&W Staff)

“He was a really engaging performer,” Banks said. “I thought it was really interesting how (Sáinz-)Villegas combined his music and Spanish culture throughout the whole show.”

Wilson invites the Lehigh community to engage with their upcoming shows, which can be found on their website

“Come how you want to come,” Wilson said. “The doors are going to be open and welcoming for you.”

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