Presidential Chamber Music Series celebrates 25 years of free concerts

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"I love this program," Willy Sucre said of the premier concert in the four-part Presidential Chamber Music Series scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday at New Mexico Tech's Macey Center Auditorium.

The well-known violist will be joined onstage by Carol Swift-Matton and Ruxandra Simionescu-Marquardt on violins, and James Holland on cello, to perform string quartets by Haydn, Schubert and Grieg.

The program, part of the nonsubscription Performing Arts Series schedule, is sponsored by Tech President Dr. Daniel H. López, and is free to all.

"We're delighted with the program Willy has put together for chamber music aficionados," said PAS director Ronna Kalish. "James Holland is returning to the Macey Center stage, but this is the first appearance in Socorro for violinists Carol Swift-Matton and Ruxandra Simionescu."

As the concert host, Sucre has planned an exciting program he hopes will attract chamber music lovers from up and down the Rio Grande valley.

"It is fitting that we should start the chamber music series with Haydn, who is perhaps the father of chamber music," said Sucre of the Austrian composer (1732 – 1809). "He was the first composer to express the sound of stringed instruments played together, and a sound was born with him," said Sucre. "Others imitated the format."

Next on the program is Quartettsatz in C minor by another Austrian composer, Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828), who Sucre described as the "king of melodies."

He composed the Quartettsatz in December 1820. It is the first movement of a string quartet that Schubert never completed, and is considered one of the first products of the mature phase of his composition.

Sucre described the movement as "very rapidly paced, very electric for the first half."

Selections from the String Quartet in G minor Op. 27 by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907) will close the program.

"Edvard Grieg was an extremely graceful composer, the folk music instrumentalist of his country, as were Dvorak and Bartok," Sucre said. "He's extremely elegant in the way he writes, very emotional, very specific in how he composes."

Sucre, a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic, is the driving force behind the "Willy Sucre & Friends" concerts. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Sucre studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in La Paz; Colby College Chamber Music Institute in Waterville, Maine; Mannes School of Music in New York; and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Md.

Violinist Swift-Matton is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and has degrees in violin performance from the Eastman School of Music and Ohio University. She was a member of the former New Mexico Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal second violin, and currently performs at Chatter Sunday in Albuquerque. Swift-Matton also is a member of the Santa Fe Symphony.

As a young musician, the Romanian-born violinist Simionescu-Marquardt won several prizes and medals in international competitions. In 1986, she left communist Romania to participate in the Indianapolis Violin Competition, defecting to the U.S. immediately afterward. In 2012, she moved to New Mexico. She and her husband, a composer and pianist, appear frequently as musical partners in numerous duo recitals and chamber music concerts.

Holland began his cello studies at the age of 9 in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla. He earned a bachelor of music degree in cello performance from the University of Alabama and a master of music degree from the Eastman School of Music. For many years he has been an active and enthusiastic cello teacher and chamber music coach. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife, violinist Megan Holland.