TT, the region, and the world, has lost a great son of the soil in Robert Munro, the cuatro maestro extraordinaire. Robert is certainly the unsung hero, having lived a life of great humility, giving, and steep commitment to music.
While he is well known in some circles locally, having continuously traversed both our islands, as he shared his gift with the youth of our nation, many may not have been aware of his international accomplishments. Robert must have been one of the few, if not the only person from our shores, to have played at a private function for the Queen of Spain and the Royal family of the Netherlands.
He extended his genuine love and passion for the cuatro by tutoring many of our now distinguished cuatro players of today. Many passers-by would stand on the curb at the corner of Victoria Square and Duke street, as they heard the sweet music being played by Robert as he sat in his verandah, almost on a daily basis; many times with a handful of youths who he mentored – all for free!
To many, Robert was always the "ask to play for charity" guy, as he had a big heart and seized every opportunity to help others. His talent took him to perform at the UN, and the Berklee College of Music, at the time that he was an honorary member of the original San Jose Serenades.
He was also recognised by our Venezuelan neighbours, as they too considered him one of the greats, as he took their national instrument to many international platforms. There was no other who could make a cuatro "ramajay" like Robert could; with pieces like Kitchener’s Bees melody, or many Spanish traditional pieces that allowed his audience to travel through time. His repertoire was incredible, and he certainly inculcated the cuatro significantly, with the music of our local culture.
Robert Munro will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace and serenade with the choirs in heaven.
Arnold Corneal via e-mail