Roberto Améndola

ango, a predominant genre in Buenos Aires, was always pleasantly accepted throughout Argentina. Furthermore, coming from cities of the interior, talented artists and creators appeared who covered it in glory. The province of La Pampa is not an exception. Julián Plaza, Charlo and, also, Nicolás Ledesma were born there. His hometown is General Pico, the second city of the province. It is 125 km from its capital city, Santa Rosa, and 571 km from Buenos Aires city.

Since his childhood, and due to the family influence, he has been close to music. His father, a railroad worker, was also a piano tuner and was helped in that task by the young Nicolás. He was also bandoneon player and Nicolás Ledesma’s first music teacher. Father and son teamed up as a duo, playing bandoneon and guitar, his first instrument. They mostly played folk music.

Thereafter, he began to study piano with a teacher in his hometown: Erberto Benuzzi, who was also pianist in the tango orchestra of General Pico which was led by Alberto Pellizari. On April 14, 1979, the pupil replaced his teacher in the music group, starting then his professional career when he was only fourteen.

He stayed there until he was eighteen while he furthered his knowledge attending classes with Horacio Salgán. He traveled every fifteen days from General Pico to the Federal Capital, a round trip of 24 hours. Then he decided to settle in Buenos Aires.

Based in this city, living in a boarding house, he devoted himself to his profession as piano tuner learnt with his father, to make a living and to be able to pay his further studies.

One year later, he was member of a group which played charts by Daniel Lomuto. He rented an apartment and, with his job as piano tuner, he managed to fully devote himself to accomplish his objectives. His profession linked him to the tango milieu, because he tuned pianos for television shows, among them, Grandes Valores del Tango.

There he came to know Roberto Siri who led an orchestra with young players. One of those boys, the bandoneon player Gilberto Pereira, called him to put together a new group, the Sexteto Menor, named that way because the Sexteto Mayor sponsored them. They were successful in the different venues where they appeared until they became the Sexteto Sur. This group had a tenure of several years until 1990 and, then Ledesma was already its arranger. They played in the Caño 14, and made tours of Canada and Brazil.

In 1990 he was invited by Walter Ríos to join his quartet which used to play at Tango Mío, in the neighborhood of Barracas. In 1992 he was summoned by Pascual Mamone to play in the Orquesta de Tango de General San Martín which he conducted. He continued his studies with Horacio Salgán for two years. He also studied with Manolo Juárez, Guillermo Iscla and Juan Carlos Cirigliano. In September that year, Leopoldo Federico included him in his orchestra, after two frustrated attempts due to fortuitous circumstances in 1988 and 1990. His tenure with Federico was until the leader’s death in 2014.

He was awarded the prize Tango Revelation 2001 by the Grupo Clarín. He was also awarded the Orden del Buzón and was nominated to the Grammy awards for his compact disc De tango somos.

At the same time he played with Federico, Ledesma was pianist of many music groups: the Quinteto de Fernando Suárez Paz, the Trío Julio Pane, the Cuarteto de Walter Ríos, the Daniel Piazzolla’s Octeto Buenos Aires, the Selección Nacional de Tango, the Orquesta de Tango de Buenos Aires, the Orquesta Nacional de Música Argentina «Juan de Dios Filiberto», the Orquesta de Tango de San Martín and the Orquesta del Café de los Maestros.

He also played along with great musicians at different events: the vibraphonist Gary Burton, with whom he recorded two albums, the cellist Yo Yo Ma, the conductor Daniel Barenboim, the Orquesta Filarmónica Nacional. And he played at the Teatro Colón as substitute for Horacio Salgán, his teacher.

He is a permanent representative of tango worldwide, since he often visits different countries with different groups. On seven occasions he traveled to Japan where he is widely known and where he played throughout its territory; he went with Leopoldo Federico four times, once with a quintet led by Horacio Malvicino to play music by Astor Piazzolla and accompanying the tenor singer Marcelo Álvarez.

He also put together his own group, in 2003, to play his own arrangements under his leadership. In 2007 he recorded Meridiano Buenos Aires.

Ledesma composed, among other pieces: “De tango somos” (dedicated to Leopoldo Federico), “Milonguero de siempre”, “Sueño de tango”, “Ruta siete”, “Fuelle amigo”, “Oiga pibe” (dedicated to Carlos García), “El Marquetín” (with Miguel Cantilo), “Luchar y existir” (with Susana Rinaldi), “Dime” (with María Viviana), “A toda orquesta” (with Leopoldo Federico), “Betitta” (dedicated to his mother), “Voy a buena” (dedicated to Fernando Suárez Paz) and “La revolcada”.

He has recorded four CD’s to excellent public and critic acclaim: Sueño de tango, piano solos, in 2001. De tango somos, with a quartet, in 2004. Meridiano Buenos Aires, in 2008, with his orchestra plus a string quartet, with pieces of his own and by other composers. Cuando llora la milonga, in 2015, accompanied by his wife, Mariana Viviana (vocals), Pablo Agri (violin soloist), César Rago (violin), Mario Fiocca (viola), Luciano Falcón (cello), Horacio Romo (bandoneon soloist), Santiago Polimeni (bandoneon), Enrique Guerra (double bass) and Nicolás Ledesma [Senior].

He has a solid training in teaching. He is educator at the Conservatorio Superior de Música Manuel de Falla (Tango and Folk Music genres). He is also pro-secretary of AADI (Asociación Argentina de Intérpretes).