Pepe Torres – La Guitarra de oro del Peru
I visited José Arturo Torres Ventocilla, known as ‘Pepe Torres,’ at his guitar school in a neighborhood of Lima on a Friday morning. Since Pepe was already giving a lesson to a student, I waited in the entrance hall and looked at the photos hanging on the wall.
All of them spoke of his tremendous success since the 1970s and his numerous tours around the world.
Pepe Torres, the ambassador of Peruvian criollo music, was born on September 2, 1941. He was born in the town of Gorgor, which belongs to the province of Cajatambo, Lima.
The successful musician, composer, and guitar master showed his passion for the guitar from a very young age, as he listened to his father playing huayno melodies. Later, he fell in love with the guitar of Alejandro Rodríguez from the group “Los Embajadores Criollos.”
From then on, his world revolved around the guitar.
He built his first instrument from a box of manjar blanco (a sweet treat). Added matchstick frets, and four fishing strings, and it made sound. At the age of 13, he stepped on a stage for the first time. At 15, his sister gave him a real guitar, and at 16, Pepe recorded his first album.
At the age of 20, Pepe Torres was hired by the IEMPSA label to accompany famous singers such as Tania Libertad, Los Morochucos, and Los Embajadores Criollos, along with the marvelous guitarist Oscar Aviles, in recording sessions.
Starting in 1973, he traveled the world with his group “Perú Folclórico” to promote Peruvian musical culture through indigenous dances, songs, and instrumental music.
From 1985 onwards, he produced folk music programs on Peruvian television and radio stations.
Pepe Torres also composed, arranged, and recorded countless songs. He was a guitar teacher throughout his life. Even at 82 years old, his days are filled with all these activities.
Listen for yourselves to what this great tireless and passionate guitarist told me about his rich life.