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Music: ‘Classical Drinking’

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Submitted Photo Tuba player of the Roswell Symphony Orchestra, Jim Shearer, and the La Catrina String Quartet perform a concert benefitting the orchestra.

Jim Shearer performs with the La Catrina Quartet

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Roswell Symphony Orchestra tuba player, Jim Shearer, is joined by Las Cruces-based string quartet, La Catrina, for an evening of classical and jazz music at Pecos Flavors Winery + Bistro, 412 W. Second St., Nov. 16 at 6 p.m., which is a fundraiser benefiting the RSO. There will also be a silent auction.

In a phone interview, Shearer talked about the concept. “The show we are doing is something we are doing in Las Cruces for a while,” he said. “It is something my wife and I encountered in our travels throughout the last few years, seeing people putting classical music into a more informal venue. So we brought it home and we called it ‘Classical Drinking,’ we thought that was a cute title. That’s the whole point to put classical music in a more informal setting, to talk more to the audience, tell them about the music and allow them time to ask questions. We are intentionally doing a little bit of shorter pieces. It’s very interactive, user friendly if you will.”

Shearer has been with RSO for about 10 years he said and his wife has been part of the orchestra much longer.

“My wife has been there well over 20 years, pushing 25 as a matter of fact,” Shearer said. “I have also been a guest artist a few times with the orchestra. I have been performing with a group called El Paso Brass a few years, and we did Christmas shows back in the ‘90s and early 2000s with Roswell Symphony Orchestra, so I had a long association off and on.”

Shearer is going to perform with the resident string quartet of the New Mexico State University, La Catrina.

The operations manager of RSO, Kate Graham, emailed the following information about La Catrina: “Since its founding in 2007, La Catrina String Quartet (LCSQ) is recognized as the new vanguard for contemporary Latin American string quartet repertoire. Their mission is threefold: a deep commitment to the cultivation of new works by living U.S. composers and throughout the Americas; the programming of existing Latin American works rarely performed in the U.S. and abroad; bringing fresh interpretations to classical, romantic and twentieth century masterpieces. Hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as “wonderful ambassadors for Latin American music,” LCSQ members are from Mexico (Daniel Vega-Albela, Jorge Martínez-Ríos), Venezuela (Simón Gollo) and Chile (Jorge Espinoza). Their rich cultural origins convey an unparalleled stylistic authenticity and artistic vision in their performances, collaborations and recordings. It is this unique balance of core Latin American repertoire with American and European classical traditions that characterizes both the diversity of their concert programs and appeal to multi-cultural audiences.”

“We did an album some years ago, it’s called Music for Tuba and String Quartet, so we’re going to play a few pieces off of that album,” Shearer said in the phone interview. “The most important are from Manny Albam. Manny has an interesting story. He was a composer/arranger in New York City — he’s best known in the jazz world. He wrote arrangements for Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Mel Tormé, he wrote for Radio City Music Hall and he worked with his own band as well. He had kind of an alternative life as a classical composer and wrote these mostly for friends, including a guy named Harvey Phillips, who was a dear friend of his. Harvey did a series of tuba recitals, the first guy who could really do it at Carnegie Hall in the 1970s and early ‘80s. This piece was written for one of these concerts and was never used again. I found it in the archive of the Institute of Jazz studies at Rutgers in New Jersey. So we sort of resurrected it and put it on record and it’s just a wonderful piece of music, so we’ll do part of that, and we’ll do a couple of other things.

“The quartet is going to play by themselves. I can’t tell you what they are going to play because they change it every time. They are working with composers from their homeland and they are playing some of that music and it’s just fantastic,” Shearer said. “People will have an enjoyable evening and there will be cocktails.”

For more information, visit roswellsymphony.org or call 575-623-5882.