With over forty years of professional experience and worldwide recognition by colleagues, critics and audiences alike, Luis Zea is known for his versatile talent as a performing and recording artist, arranger, composer, teacher and author. Hailed by Cuban master Leo Brouwer as “the ideal soloist”, Zea is the outstanding disciple of the legendary Venezuelan composer and guitarist Antonio Lauro (1917-1986). He also took lessons from Leopoldo Igarza and Rómulo Lazarde, and attended courses and master classes by the celebrated guitar virtuoso Alirio Díaz (1923-2016), another Venezuelan legend who, like Lauro, played a major role in Zea’s musical development. In England Zea studied privately with the renowned guitar pedagogue John Duarte (1919-2004), and also earned degrees from the University of London (King’s College) and University of Reading.
Zea has performed at venues such as the Wigmore Hall (London) and Alice Tully Hall (New York), and has participated in many guitar events around the world, including the Aarhus International Guitar Festival (Denmark, 2013, 2014 and 2017); Festival Internacional de Agosto (Venezuela, 1989 to 2000); Cannington International Guitar Summer School (England, 1976 to 1986); Festival y Concurso Internacional de La Habana (Cuba, 1992); Concorso Internazionale di Chitarra Classica “Citta de Alessandria” (Italy, 1990); Classical Guitar Festival of Great Britain (England, 1994 and 1997); Volos International Guitar Festival (Greece, 1982 and 1994); Festival Internacional de Guitarra Clásica Escuela Fernando Sor (Colombia, 2009); Bolivar Hall International Guitar Festival (England, 2004); Festival de la Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia, 2010), among many others.
His solo CD Vals Elegíaco has been critically acclaimed and he has been involved in numerous recording projects in various capacities: as a performer, composer, arranger and musical producer. His work has been published in Venezuela, England, Italy, Germany, Canada and the USA. Zea’s many articles, written for prestigious international guitar journals such as Classical Guitar, Guitar International, Guitar Player and Gitarre und Laute, have made a significant contribution to guitar pedagogy, and he is regarded as a world authority on the music of Antonio Lauro. Additionally, Zea is co-author (with John Duarte) of The Guitarist’s Hands (Universal Edition,1978), an influential book on guitar technique. The European Guitar Teachers Association (EGTA) commissioned him to write an extended article entitled On Teaching the Unteachable, published in its journal Guitar Forum (2003). The publishing companies www.dobermaneditions.com/ and www.Marchionemusic.com each launched a series of editions featuring some of Zea’s compositions and arrangements with a preface by Leo Brouwer.
Zea was Visiting Professor at the Indiana University School of Music (Bloomington, USA, 1997-1998) and the State University of New York (Fredonia, 2004 & 2010), replacing Maestro Ernesto Bitetti and Distinguished Professor Jim Piorkowski, respectively, while on sabbatical leave. In the US he has given master classes at other prestigious institutions like the Manhattan School of Music (New York), California State University (Fullerton) and the Boston Conservatory. The D’Addario Co. –one of the world’s leading manufacturers of strings for musical instruments– has used Zea’s artistic image to promote its products. The Festival Maestros e Intérpretes de la Guitarra (1994) and the II Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Caracas (2012) were organized as a homage to Luis Zea, and guitarists from Europe, North and South America have travelled to Venezuela to study with him under the sponsorship of the international education programs of their respective countries.
Between 1988 and 2000, Zea did many concerts, master classes, workshops and seminars throughout Venezuela thanks to the patronage of Proyecto Cultural Mavesa,
a private enterprise whose mission it was to preserve and renew the Venezuelan classical guitar tradition. He also acted as artistic adviser to the Proyecto and many national and international festivals and competitions took place in Venezuela during that period. Zea was the guitar professor at the Universidad Nacional Experimental de las Artes in Caracas (1987-2012) and for eighteen years he was a member of Navidad en Familia, a vocal and instrumental ensemble directed by the distinguished Venezuelan pianist Clara Marcano and devoted to the preservation of Venezuelan cultural traditions and family values. Luis Zea performs on a guitar made by the legendary French luthier Daniel Friederich fretted with D’Addario Pro-Arté strings.