David Peña Dorantes was born into a family of Andalusian gypsy artists. They are a people closely linked to the world of flamenco.
In the Peña Dorantes family, music is an art which has been passed down from generation to generation since the 18th century.
At the age of 10, David picked his instrument – one not often associated with flamenco – the piano.
He talked to euronews about his art, his ancestors, his people and his hopes for the future.
David’s studio is covered with black and white photographs of his family playing flamenco music.
“You can see in these photos that our life is really intertwined with music, with flamenco,” he says, touching each one in turn.
“Here is my grandmother, “La Perrata” a great “cantora” or singer of flamenco. This is my father playing guitar.”
One photos is particularly symbolic. “That’s me in the arms of my uncle Vicente, one of our patriarchs,” he explains. “You can see how we learn the language of flamenco. We learn it like this, in the arms of our elders, listening and absorbing.”
David believes flamenco has played an important role in global awareness of Spain.
“Flamenco has become very big, not only in Spain but in the whole world. Many people have come to know Spain through flamenco. I think the key reason for this is that flamenco is very authentic,” he says.
“We express our deepest feelings through this music. I have inherited the expression of people who have truly had a very difficult past, who have had to fight every day against discrimination.
“When we bring the family together through flamenco and a brother who is having a tough time starts singing certain flamenco songs like Bulerias or Soleas, you know he is trying to tell you something.
“This is so strong that every being in the world understands it and makes it ring out like the bells of a cathedral. That’s the way it is.”
It is also a music that unites gypsy, Roma, travelling people known by a variety of names.
“Flamenco music, my music, the music of Andalusia – we have a common soul with gypsies from the north of France or from the countries of the east.
“I feel a part of the same people. When I hear them, I identify with them. I see people of my ethnic origin coming from elsewhere and I like to see them in the streets of my city expressing themselves through music. Like I said, it’s the same soul.”
If David has a message, it is of tolerance and co-operation.
“The overriding idea is that everybody should fit in. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. We are all little pieces – sometimes unequal – and we have to try to fit together,” he explains.
“And in my head is the possibility that we can all get on together, respect each other and above all that we have the capability of analysis. I believe that this makes us more intelligent and able to put ourselves in another’s place.”
David’s wife is Spanish but not from the gypsy community. They bring up their children to respect both cultures.
“I think they will be richer for it. Mixed races are the future. They have two roads, two philosophies of life: one which I have given them and one which comes from their mother. This enriches them,” he insists.
“It’s not the same thing to speak one language as to speak two. If they were the children of French and German parents then they would know both languages. And it’s not just this, it’s also a philosophy of life, of how to live your life. And I think they are even richer for it.
“I believe mixed races has to be the future.”