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Chamber Music Goes South Of The Border

An Evening South of the Border Headlines Chamber Music Concert, Wine Tasting

SOCORRO, N.M. – Willy & Friends will feature La Catrina Quartet for the final chamber music concert of the semester on Monday, March 20.  The event will kick off with a wine-tasting of South American vintages, inviting participants to hear – and taste – the culture of our southern hemisphere neighbor.

The performance, the final of four in the Presidential Chamber Music Series, begins at 7:30 p.m. at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center. The concert is free to all, courtesy of Tech President Dr. Stephen G. Wells.

Dr. Bill Stone, the University’s Dean of Arts and Sciences and a recognized oenophile, will conduct the wine-tasting as part of a Tech Club-Club Macey social event for adults 21 and over. Tickets must be purchased in advance ($10/members; $15/non-members). Red and white varieties will be served with cheese, crackers, fruit and light meats.

Host for the musical part of the evening is Willy Sucre, a well-known violist and personality in his own right, and certainly no stranger to New Mexico Tech or its Performing Arts Series (PAS).

“It’s always a pleasure to welcome Willy to town,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. “We’re delighted he will be accompanied by La Catrina Quartet for another encore performance as part of an evening devoted to classical and contemporary music and fine wines.”

Hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as “wonderful ambassadors for Latin American music,” La Catrina Quartet members are from Mexico (Daniel Vega-Albela, violin, and Jorge Martínez-Ríos, viola), Venezuela (Simón Gollo, violin) and Chile (Jorge Espinoza, cello).

On the program for the evening are “String Quintet No. 2 in B flat Major OP. 87” by Mendelssohn and assorted works by M.M Ponce, A. Piazolla, J. Plaza and M. Mores.

Felix Mendelssohn’s (1809-1845) composition, like all of his string quintets, is comprised of four movements: Allegro vivace, Andante scherzando, Adagio e lento and Allegro molto vivace.       

The concert opens with “Gavota,” by M.M. Ponce (1882-1948); “Fuga y Misterio” and “Milonga de la Anunciacion,” by A. Piazzolla (1921-1992); J. Plaza’s (1928 - 2003) “Payadora;” and “Cuartito Azul” by M. More (1918 - 2016). All arrangements are by Jorge Espinoza.

Mendelssohn’s composition will be performed after intermission.

The “Gavota” was originally written by Manuel María Ponce for solo piano. Many of his compositions are strongly influenced by the harmonies and form of traditional songs. The “Fuga y Misterio” is from Piazzolla’s nuevo tango chamber opera from 1968, “María de Buenos Aires.” A jazzier style is discernible in the composition, but the tango still dominates. “The Milonga de la Anunciacion” is a song and dance from the same tango chamber opera.

“Payador,” marrying old and new, is one of the most famous tangos written by Plaza. It boasts an obsessive rhythm that pauses only momentarily before it is off for another whirl around the ballroom.

“Cuartito Azul” by Mariano Mores tells the tale of a young man who bids farewell to the room where he lived his adolescence following his first love. It is the story of Mores himself, and was his first great success.

Mendelssohn wrote his Second String Quintet in the summer of 1845, but chose not to publish. It was published posthumously in 1851. The work is appreciated today as a strong chamber work from the latter end of the composer’s life.

Its most prominent feature is energy, from the opening movement that gives way to a gentle, descending motif, followed by another change of pace, mixing a light, courtly waltz theme with moments of devilish pizzicato.

Since its founding in 2007, La Catrina String Quartet is recognized as the new vanguard for contemporary Latin American string quartet repertoire. A balance of rich cultural origins and stylistic authenticity and artistic vision characterizes both the diversity of their concert programs and appeal to multi-cultural audiences.

Born in Mexico City, Daniel Vega-Albela at 15 won the silver medal in the first National Violin Competition in Mexico City. At 16, he traveled to New York City, where he received his bachelor’s of music in violin performance from the Mannes College of Music. He has played with many ensembles in the United States, such as the St. Cecilia Chamber Orchestra and the Western New York Chamber Players.

Award-winning Swiss-Venezuelan violinist, Simón Gollo, teaches master classes around the world. He has degrees from the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve in Switzerland and the Conservatoire Superieur et Academie de Musique Tibor Varga in Sion, Switzerland. He joined La Catrina String Quartet in 2015.

Born in Torreón, Mexico, Jorge Martínez Ríos studied viola at the Conservatorio de las Rosas, where he graduated with honors. He has performed across the United States and Mexico in some of the most prestigious concert venues, such as Carnegie Hall in New York. Currently, he is an assistant professor of viola performance at New Mexico State University and keeps a busy schedule touring and teaching.

Jorge Espinoza received his master’s in music performance from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has been a featured soloist and chamber musician, performing concertos, solo and chamber music recitals in his native land, Chile, and around the world. Showing his passion for teaching cello and coaching chamber music groups, he has taught master classes and workshops in the United States and abroad.

Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and the driving force behind the “Willy & Friends” concerts. As a chamber musician, Sucre was founder of the Cuarteto Boliviano, guest violist with various chamber music ensembles, and the violist of the Helios String Quartet, which was resident at New Mexico Tech for 10 years.

His experience includes extensive chamber music concerts, lectures and school demonstrations, CD recordings, and television performances throughout South, Central, and North America. Sucre enjoys performing with ensembles of diverse instrumentation.

Again, there is no admission charge to the chamber music concert. Tickets to the Tech Club-Club Macey are $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Call 575-835-5688 for further information.

– NMT –