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Performing Arts Series Season Showcases Diversity

SOCORRO, N.M. August 22, 2013 – The upcoming New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series season opens with a performance by an internationally acclaimed nouveau flamenco guitarist and closes with a visit from Santa Fe Opera apprentices, as part of a diverse entertainment package.

 “We’re really excited about this year’s new program, and hope it will appeal to our longstanding patrons, and will attract newcomers as well,” series director Ronna Kalish said.

“And, back by popular demand, New Mexico Tech will sponsor a spring musical to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the school’s founding in 2014,” she said.

Internationally acclaimed nouveau flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert and his band, Luna Negra, will kick off the season with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center. (All performances will start at 7:30 p.m. at Macey, unless otherwise noted.)

Liebert, born in Germany to a Chinese-German father and a Hungarian mother, began playing guitar at age 11. Through his extensive travels through Europe and Asia, Liebert was introduced to diverse musical styles and cultures. After pursuing his rock-and-roll dreams first in his native Germany, and later in Boston, he left the frustrations of the East coast and settled in Santa Fe.

By 1989, he had founded the first incarnation of his new band, Luna Negra, and released the self-produced, “Marita: Shadows and Storms,” which found its way to radio stations and began generating generous feedback.

PAS hot club of cowtown

Liebert, who has since become one of the most successful instrumental artists of the past decade, has released a catalog of classic recordings, including the remix collection Euphoria, and an album with Luna Negra called The Santa Fe Sessions.

CAPTION: The Hot Club of Cowtown makes its Socorro debut on October 4. They are elana James (from left), Whit Smith and Jake Erwin.

Tech welcomes back Willy Sucre and his guest musicians Monday, Sept. 23. Violist Sucre will be joined by Carol Swift-Matton and Ruxandra Simionescu-Marquardt on violins, and James Holland on cello to perform string quartets by Haydn, Schubert and Grieg in the first of four Presidential Chamber Music Series events throughout the year.

The series is sponsored by Tech President Dr. Daniel H. López, and admission is free.

There’ll be a hot time in the old town on Friday, Oct. 4, when the Hot Club of Cowtown swings into Socorro with a show sure to have people on their feet. “We’ll have lots of space for dancing,” Kalish said.

For guitarist Whit Smith, fiddler Elana James and bassist Jake Erwin, the journey has always been about staying true to their roots. Since their first recording in 1998, the Austin-based group has grown into one of the most globe-trotting, hardest-swinging Western swing trio on the planet.

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys have been a tremendous influence on the band, which has remained willfully out of the musical mainstream. The first American band to tour Azerbaijan, they have opened stadiums for artists such as Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, and continue to bring their brand of western swing to a wide range of festival audiences all over the world.

The series moves from October to November with Andy Gross’s Mindboggling Variety Show on Friday, Nov. 1, featuring the eponymous stand-up comic, magician and ventriloquist, to be joined by award-winning juggler, Fred Anderson.

Gross performs over 150 shows a year at comedy clubs, cruise ships, Fortune 500 corporate events and college and university stages. “Andy is incredibly talented, and his ad-libs have people comparing him to Don Rickles and Robin Williams,” said Kalish, adding that the man’s ability to throw his voice is, in itself, a throwback to another entertainment era.

As a measure of his agility, at age 15 Gross was the youngest professional racquetball player in the history of the sport, when racquetball was at its peak in popularity. He also has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and cable TV, and frequently performs in Las Vegas to great reviews.

The series takes a classical turn on Friday, Nov. 8 when the New Mexico Philharmonic presents its Bach Fiesta, an evening devoted to the legendary German composer (1685 – 1750) during its Baroque period.

Christopher Confessore will conduct a 26-member chamber orchestra featuring violin soloist Krzysztof Zimowski, and comprised of strings, flute, oboes, trumpets, timpani and harpsichord, performing Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, Violin Concerto in A minor, Violin Concerto in E Major, and Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major.

The second performance in the Presidential Chamber Music Series will feature piano trios and quartets on Monday, Nov. 18. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by the West Shore Piano Trio with Jay DeWire on piano, Heather Haughn on violin, and Diana Flesner on cello.

On the evening’s program are piano quartets by Saint Saëns, Mozart and Brahms.

PAS RobertMirabal bigTwo-time Grammy Award-winner Robert Mirabal returns to the PAS lineup with 10 singers/dancers/musicians from the Jemez in “Blue Corn – The Journey” on Friday, Nov. 22.

CAPTION: New Mexico legend Robert Mirabal returns to Socorro for a performance to coincide with the Festival of the Cranes.

The performance, which coincides with Global Village Day on the New Mexico Tech campus, and the 26th annual Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, also honors Native American Heritage Month.

Mirabal and the Jemez Pueblo troupe will perform Buffalo, Eagle and Rainbow dances, all ceremonial pieces that are rarely seen outside Pueblo boundaries.

An evening of string quartets is on tap for the third concert in the Presidential Chamber Music Series on Monday, Jan. 17, 2014. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by violinists Kevin Connolly and Debra Terry, and Sally Guenther on cello, to perform string quartets by Mendelssohn and Dvořák.

Prepare to be captivated by Cirque Montage on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, when the traveling troupe brings its whimsical world of animated characters to town.

The acts weave together in a collage of traditional cutting edge circus arts.

PAS Cirque2

CAPTION: Cirque Montage returns to Socorro with the fanciful, modern performance.

“This is definitely a performance that will appeal to all ages,” Kalish said. “Cirque Montage features, of course, a Ringmaster, a variety of high-flying aerial acts, a father-and-daughter balancing act, and an incredible juggler.”

And, she warns, be on the lookout for a red, featherless bird named Raven.

The Fantasticks, a performance based on the longest-running musical in history, will follow the Valentine’s Day Dinner sponsored by Tech Club – Club Macey, on Wednesday, Feb. 12. Tickets for the dinner, menu to be announced, will be sold separately from those for the performance.

This tour of the Fantasticks is produced by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan as part of a 65-city national itinerary. The version headed to Tech is a new, steam punk adaptation of the classic tale of young lovers who become disillusioned, only to discover a more mature, meaningful love.

Next up on Friday, Feb. 28 is the renowned Celtic bagpiper, flutist and honorary Chieftain, Carlos Núñez, considered one of the biggest artists in the international world/Celtic music scene.

“Núñez has the quality of a classical music virtuoso and the charisma of a rock star,” noted Kalish of the entertainer, from Galicia, Spain. “In his own words, Carlos plays Celtic music with Latin passion,” she said.

The Spaniard has released 10 albums to date on the Sony label, which have sold a million copies since his debut in 1996. The album Santiago, for which Núñez was named an honorary member of the Chieftains, received a Grammy in 1997.

Coming on the heels – and toes – of the popular “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” show from two years ago is “Tap: The Show,” scheduled for Friday, March 7, 2014, celebrating the artistry of tap dance from around the world.

Draped in dazzling costumes and backed by a soaring orchestral score, these award-winning dancers and singers move through decades of styles from Broadway and big band to world music and pop/rock. Included in this production are recreations of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly numbers, Broadway showstoppers, soft shoe, flamenco, tribal, Irish step and more.

The Guy Forsyth Trio concert scheduled for Friday, March 28, shares a tie with New Mexico Tech alumnus Denby Auble, in that Forsyth’s most recent album, “The Freedom to Fall,” was recorded on the Blue Corn Music Label, which is owned and operated by Auble, one of the original members of The Vigilante Band.

A true Renaissance man, Guy is a master of electric and slide guitar, harmonica, ukulele and singing saw. From his start as founder and stellar live performer with The Asylum Street Spankers to being awarded numerous Austin Music Awards, Forsyth has earned a veritable army of fans in Texas and beyond.

March will go out like a lion with the final performance in the Presidential Chamber Music Series on Monday, March 31. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by Krysztof Zimowski and Julianie Collier Lee on violins, Sandra Rivers on piano and Joanna de Keyser on cello, to perform piano quintets by Shostakovich and Brahms.

Mark Nizer’s 3D Comedy and Juggling Show is slated for Friday, April 4, 2014, coinciding with the N.M. State Science and Engineering Fair on the New Mexico Tech campus, tours at the VLA and an open house at Trinity Site on White Sands Missile Range.

“This high-energy show is infused with music, movement and technology, which we hope will attract Science Fair participants, their families; and, of course, our own techno-whiz Tech students,” Kalish said.

Enjoy the rhythms of ancestral Japanese Taiko drums and the magical melodies of bamboo flutes on Friday, April 11, 2014, with a performance by Taikoza, an internationally acclaimed troupe of performers.

New Mexico Tech’s Spring Musical returns with the Threepenny OperaApril 25-27, with two evening performances and a Sunday afternoon matinee, featuring thespians and musicians from the college and community.

Closing out the Performing Arts Series on Thursday, May 1, 2014, will be The Santa Fe Opera Apprentices on Tour, featuring young singers and performers training with the state’s historic opera program.

“Once again, PAS has tried to arrange a program with wide appeal, touching on familiar and not-so-familiar elements of the entertainment spectrum,” noted Director Kalish. “And, as always, we are grateful to all our sponsors and supporters.”

 – NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech