Piano Trios in the Spotlight for Presidential Chamber Music Concert Nov. 18 at N.M. Tech

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SOCORRO – The spotlight is going to shine on the West Shore Piano Trio, when Willy Sucre & Friends presents an evening of piano trios, and a piano quartet, at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center in a Performing Arts Series concert.

The performance is the second of four concerts in the Presidential Chamber Music Series sponsored by Dr. Daniel H. López, President of New Mexico Tech, and Socorro Econo Lodge, which provides courtesy lodging for the musicians.

Admission is free to all.

“This is a wonderful program, with wonderful histories,”
Sucre said. He will be joined on the Macey Center stage by West Shore Piano Trio members Jay DeWire on piano, Heather Haughn on violin, and Diana Flesner on cello.

PAS Director Ronna Kalish agreed. “Piano trios and quartets are quite popular, and we in Socorro are fortunate to have an opportunity to enjoy these musical forms at the hands of such talented musicians,” she said.

The program will open with the third movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Trio Fragment in D major K 442; which, Sucre explained, is exactly what it sounds like – a “fragmented” or unfinished composition by the German composer.

Mozart (1756 – 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period, or the years 1730 to 1820. The Classical era divides the Baroque and Romantic periods.

“This work reflects a period in Mozart’s life when he was defining a new idea of writing for the piano trio,” Sucre said. “At that time, the cello was treated as an accompaniment, but Mozart recruited the instrument as part of the trio with piano and violin. He gave the cello more responsibility, increasing the sound of the baseline, including stronger melodies for the cello,” Sucre said.

The work chosen for the evening’s performance reflects what Mozart was trying to achieve, he said.

Piano Trio No. 1 in F Major Op. 18 by Camille Saint Saëns will follow the Mozart piece. Saint-Saëns (1835 –1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era that began in the late 18th or early 19th century. The era was related to Romanticism, the European artistic and literary movement that bloomed in the second half of the 18th century.

“Of the three composers on the evening’s program – which includes the piano quartet by Brahms – Saint Saëns had the easiest time in terms of writing music,” said Sucre. “He had a natural facility, not just for the piano, but also for the organ – all of this came rather easily for him.”

Saint Saëns also was a scientist and philosopher, and these interests permeated his works. “This piece shows his facility and the joy he found in composition and music,” Sucre continued.

The violist will join the West Shore Piano Trio following intermission to perform four movements from Piano Quartet in A Major Op. 26 written by Johannes Brahms.

German composer and pianist Brahms (1833 – 1897), who sometimes is grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs,” spent the majority of his professional life in Vienna, the capital and largest city in Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene.

“This work by Brahms is a little more complicated,” Sucre explained. Indeed, the German composer struggled to write the perfect piece of music, having been placed on a pedestal by Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856), a German composer and influential music critic.

According to Sucre, Schumann considered Brahms “the next big thing in music,” and his praise made Brahms highly critical of his own work, in living up to the elder man’s expectations.
“When Brahms wrote this piano quartet, he had just completed writing six minor piano quartets, which increased the challenge for him,” Sucre said. “And he succeeded tremendously. It is also a great challenge for us, as musicians, in performing such a complex piece.

Sucre said that following the premier performance of Brahms’s piano quartet, with the composer himself at the piano, the musician in a letter to his family expressed his extreme joy and happiness in performing a piece he had written himself – and one that garnered positive reviews.

“I cannot imagine how he must have felt,” said Sucre. “It must have been monumental, both for the family and for Brahms, in being so happy with his music.”

And now, let’s meet members of the West Shore Piano Trio:
Pianist Jay DeWire has appeared up and down the eastern seaboard and is becoming known for both his dynamic interpretations of 20th century works and his “old world flair.” He began playing piano at the age of four, and gave his first solo recital at age 12.

DeWire received a bachelor’s with high distinction and a master’s in piano performance from the University of Virginia, and a master of music from the New England Conservatory. In December of 2007, he received a DMA from the University of Maryland School of Music. DeWire has studied with such distinguished pianists as Joanne Haroutounian, Mimi Tung, Gabriel Chodos, Bradford Gowen, Steve Drury, John Moriarty, and Larissa Dedova.

Violinist Heather Haughn enjoys a diverse career as an active chamber musician, orchestral player, and teacher. She currently plays with six major orchestras, including the National Philharmonic. Haughn, who is on the faculty of Goucher College and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, also has performed as soloist and concertmaster for a number of orchestras in the Bay Area; and was formerly the assistant principal second violinist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.

Cellist Diana Flesner received her doctorate in musical arts from the University of Illinois, her master’s degree from San Francisco Conservatory, and her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Middlebury College with a double major in music and Russian language/literature. She served as principal cellist for the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra and has played with orchestras in Illinois, Annapolis and Fairfax.

Violist Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and is the driving force behind the “Willy Sucre & Friends” concerts. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, he studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in La Paz; Colby College Chamber Music Institute in Waterville, Maine; Mannes School of Music, New York; and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. Sucre was the founder of the Cuarteto Boliviano, guest violist with various chamber music ensembles, and for 10 years, was the violist of the Helios String Quartet, the ensemble-in-residence at New Mexico Tech from 1987 until 1997.