Valentino Gikovski is one of Australia’s leading flamenco guitarists and is known for arranging and producing his own flamenco compositions.
Valentino was born on the 26th of March 1975 in Melbourne Australia to Macedonian parents you immigrated from Yugoslavia. Valentino showed a talent for music and the guitar at a very young age. He started playing the guitar at the age of 3 watching his father Stanche Gikovski who was a singer and guitarist play and rehearse every day.
As he entered his teenage years, Valentino started playing professionally with his father at various performances including public and private events and also grew an affinity to learn other instruments such as the keyboard, bass, and percussion. His first guitar teacher was his father, teaching him many styles of music and the importance of versatility on the guitar. He was also Valentino’s main influence for flamenco even though he wasn’t a flamenco guitarist, he had a passion for the genre and listened to flamenco music regularly.
Up until his journey to Spain, Valentino learnt flamenco guitar pretty much on his own as there was no formal flamenco schooling where he grew up. In lieu of this his father recommended he studied classical guitar to be a what he called a “Literate musician” learning to read and write music in a formal sense. He achieved this but Valentino’s heart was always in flamenco therefore decided to pursue his childhood dream of being a first class flamenco guitarist which he has achieved.
He married Anica Gikovska in 2003 and they have 2 Children named Zan and Emma.
In 2000, his passion for flamenco and the guitar led him to the holy grail, Spain. In Spain his first stop was Madrid where he took things back to fundamentals at of the most renowned flamenco schools in Spain “Amor de Dios”. It’s here he took classes led by legendary guitarist Maestro El Entri and played in the flamenco dance classes where he was exposed to the art of accompaniment to flamenco dance.
After his stint in Madrid he moved to Sevilla where he was very fortunate to meet his teacher and mentor and legendary flamenco guitarist Maestro Carlos Heredia. Maestro Carlos showed Valentino that flamenco is not only a genre of music but a lifestyle and took Valentino under his wing showing him the true gipsyness of flamenco and how the guitar should sound from his perspective as a true gipsy. Valentino spent a lot of time with Carlos and his family and learnt a lot about flamenco including the different palos (styles), accompaniment to cante (singing) and baile (dancing) and overall approach to the flamenco guitar.
After his pilgrimage to Spain, Valentino returned to Australia all inspired ready to continue his career as a professional flamenco guitarist.
Valentino decided to start finding work as a flamenco guitarist in Melbourne after returning from Spain but wasn’t as easy as he thought. Being such a niche genre, he found it a bit hard to find people to work with and people to perform for. Not long after his return from Spain, Valentino was approached by a friend and fellow guitarist to replace him in Latin Jazz Trio called Savore as he his friend didn’t have enough time to commit to the band anymore. Valentino auditioned for this band and the other members of the band Chris Gogerly and Alistair Lethleen offered the position to Valentino immediately after the audition! Valentino added his flamenco flair in this band and it fit in quite nicely.
Valentino then travelled to Macedonia in 2002 where he started working on his first album and also met his wife Anica and then married her in 2003.
In 2003 Valentino also released his first album Alma y Aire where he put his composition and arranging skills to the test and proved to be successful being very well received and selling many copies both in Australia and abroad. He then went on to perform in Australia and Macedonia where he did solo performances as well a collaborations with other musicians of different genres including Jazz and Balkan.
He released his second album Por Unos Ojitos Negros in 2010 which was a very different album to his first. Again this album was very well received and was produced by Valentino himself. To promote this album Valentino formed his ensemble the “Valentino Flamenco Ensemble” where he incorporated instruments such as percussion, bass, vocals and flamenco dancers. He then started the ensemble’s journey with live events such as shows and concerts.
In 2015 he was approached by his father (Stanche Gikovski) to produce an album for him. These songs would be his father’s favourite Mexican/Latin songs and even though they are not flamenco they would be arranged with a bit of flamenco flair in them. Valentino called on his friends and colleagues from the band Savore to help him on this album. The instrumentation on this album includes:
Guitar and percussion – Valentino Gikovski
Guitar and ukelele – Chris Gogerly
Bass – Holly Brick
Percussion – Raju Sharma
This album is very close to Valentino’s heart as it would be around 6 months after release in 2016 that his father would pass away suddenly.
Valentino’s new album “From Earth to Sky” is due for release 2023 and will be again different to the other albums.