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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Getting to know Filipino-Australian ‘guitar master’ Bernardo Soler

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Bernardo is an award winning classical guitarist. He wanted to learn how to play guitar after hearing classical guitarist Julian Bream play on classical radio. He continued to listen to classical guitarists to develop his skills.

In 1989, he graduated with a Bachelor of Music majoring in Classical guitar from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music in Manila. In 1992 he studied at the Melba Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne.

His career highlights include winning first prize in the “Concourso de Guitarra” from the Centro Cultural de la Embajada de Espana in celebration of La Semana de Hispanidad, as well as the “National Music Competition for Young Artist” in the Philippines. In the late 1980’s, after winning first prize in the National Music Competition, he represented the Philippines at various competitions in Chile and Paraguay. 

Bernardo is part of a local band in Melbourne, called Solead Q. The band combines elements of traditional Spanish guitar music with Latin rhythms.

As a solo guitarist, he has performed all over the Philippines, Indonesia, South America, United States of America, and Australia. 

The Philippine Times recognises the struggles of local artists and musicians in Australia and around the world in 2020. The pandemic has impacted many Filipino-Australian artists and musicians in an industry which relies heavily on live music to succeed.

Bernardo shares with The Philippine Times how he was unable to proceed with his concerts as planned in 2020, and how has continued to share his music to his fans through Youtube.

1. How has COVID-19 affected you as a musician?

Covid-19 affected me a lot, is because all my concerts here in Australia and overseas were cancelled.

My concerts this year were supposed to be in Japan, Manila, Madrid. Plus various music festivals and gigs in Australia. Before the virus I was teaching classical guitar at Kilbreda College which is a Catholic girl’s school in Mentone. 

My regular gigs last year were at the Spanish Bar, Seaford, and Mr Burch Café. I am a regular performer at Jazz festivals at Inverloch, Halls Gap, Port Fairy.

Luckily I have part-time job in a nursing home as a PSA (Patient Service Assistant) which helps me to pay my bills.

2. What have you been doing during the pandemic? 

I’ve been doing a lot of video recordings and teaching online. I’ve been practicing my guitar and discovering more techniques. Last year I was doing video recording at my friend’s studio in Dingley, Victoria.

But during lockdown, I cannot go to his studio, so I decided to do it on my own, using my Samsung Galaxy.

3) What are your hopes for the future?

I will continue practicing and learn more repertoire, so when everything is back to normal, I am ready. I am practicing now and preparing for different types of concerts for next year, which is Classical, Flamenco and Jazz concerts.

I need to set my mind and spirit when I play those types of music. My plans are to get that done, so when everything is back to normal I am ready and confident.

Bernardo Soler’s guitar journey

Here are some inspiring words from Bernardo’s professors, colleagues, friends, classmates and students.

Watch Bernardo Soler perform ‘Tanging Yaman’

Some of Bernardo Soler’s musical arrangements

Follow Bernardo

YouTube Bernardo Soler
Facebook Bernardo Soler ” Solead Q “
Instagram @solerbernardo


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