8-year-old flamenco guitarist from Calgary strums his way to centre stage

While other kids might spend the weekend tobogganing or playing video games, an eight-year-old flamenco guitarist from Calgary will lead his band before a 500-seat venue before going on to study in Spain.

Harry Knight to lead band at 500-seat venue before advanced guitar studies in Spain

Harry Knight has been strumming away since he was four and a half. Soon, he'll travel to Spain to study under several master flamenco players. 1:12

In many ways, Harry Knight is your average third grader. He likes bike riding and swimming. His favourite Avenger is Thor.

But while many of his peers might spend this Sunday afternoon tobogganing or playing video games, the boy will headline a 500-seat venue at the University of Calgary, leading his band through a selection of flamenco and classic rock tunes.

At eight years old, Harry is a young flamenco guitarist with a budding career.

He played his first festival date at the age of five and has since performed at several high-profile events in the city, including the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show and the Calgary International Flamenco Festival.

"It feels good and I just love playing guitar," he says.

"I started when I was 4½ and I'm never going to stop. I just really like it."

Harry Knight, an 8-year-old from Calgary, practises flamenco guitar 2.5 hours or more a day. 'I started when I was 4½ and I'm never going to stop.' (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

Musical bloodline

The young guitarist comes from a musical bloodline.

His father, Peter Knight — himself a flamenco guitarist — has recorded with the likes of Grammy winner Dave Pierce.

Under his father's instruction, Harry spends up to 2.5 hours rehearsing on schooldays and up to four hours per day on weekends. 

According to his father, Harry was drawn to the guitar at a very early age.

"I would have my guitars over on a bench [in the living room)] and he would be six months old and crawling. He would hear the latches [of my guitar case] open, and come crawling over and try to pull himself up to the guitar case. So I knew at that time it was pretty interesting," Peter Knight said. 

"It was his choice to play the guitar, and there were no expectations. He's at the point now where I'm teaching him material that I used to play."

Peter Knight suffers from dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that leads to sustained muscle contractions, which has limited his ability to play guitar.

Harry to study in Madrid and Cordoba

However, thanks to his father's connection to a pair of renowned Spanish guitarists, Harry will have the chance to enhance his playing and learn new guitar techniques.

He will spend time in Madrid under the tutelage of renowned guitarist Victor (El Tomate) Marquez, and will also travel to Cordoba to study with the guitarist Paco Serrano.

Proceeds from his Jan. 24 concert at the University Theatre at the University of Calgary will help pay for the young guitarist's travels.

"There'll be a lot of old places," said Harry of his upcoming trip. 

"I'll be learning on the guitar things that my dad can't teach me. Things that are more advanced."

The "Harry Knight and Friends" concert takes place Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m., University Theatre at the U of C. Find tickets or more information at Eventbrite.


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