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Classical guitar virtuosos at festival

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — ‘Top names in the field’ teach, conduct orchestra at UNM

Strange as it seems, you can hear Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” at the New Mexico Classical Guitar Festival.

Benjamin Verdery will play his arrangement of the rock

‘n’ roll song in his Friday, June 21 concert at the festival.


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’60s. I was listening to and loving the pop music, even though Elvis was earlier,” Verdery said in a phone interview.

Verdery is one of two internationally known guitarists giving concerts this week at the festival, which is being held in Keller Hall at the University of New Mexico.

“My program reflects who I am as an artist growing up in the

Verdery, associate guitar professor at Yale, and Marcin Dylla of Poland are the featured performers.

“Verdery is huge and he has a dynamic personality. Verdery and Dylla are really top names in the field,” said Paul Nielsen. Nielsen is the board president of the Summer Guitar Workshop, the organization that presents the festival.

Verdery and Dylla also will teach and Verdery will conduct an advanced guitar orchestra made up of festival students in a performance of his composition “Scenes from Ellis Island.”

also will have other student ensembles.

“”It’s seven scenes. They’re short movements culminating in a final movement combining East Indian rhythms with Western harmonies. It signifies so many different cultures in the United States, and it’s been performed around the world,” he said in a phone interview.


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The piece will be performed as part of a student showcase concert on June 23 that Verdery’s recital will be mostly work that he’s composed or arranged.

The arrangements include “Don’t Be Cruel,” Prince’s “Kiss

and Randy Newman’s “In Germany Before the War.”

On the classical side, Verdery will play his arrangements of W.A. Mozart’s Adagio, which was written for piano, and J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite in E flat major.

“I’ll play the Bach on baritone guitar. It has a different construction than a guitar but the same tessatura as the cello,” Verdery said.

Tessatura is the register of a specific part, especially referring to the voice.

A third festival concert will feature

Adam Larison, a graduate of Albuquerque Academy, performing Thursday, June 20. Larison is working on his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

also is performing during the school year.

“I’m playing in a concert series in Idaho in September. I’ll be in Delaware and in Washington, D.C., in October and I’m in Florida in December,” Larison said.

do some combination of teaching and performing.

Besides studying, he After his completes his formal education he wants to

“The academy is where I started learning guitar. I studied with John Truitt there and studied privately with Mickey Jones, who also teaches at the academy.”

Larison’s Thursday, June 20 festival recital includes Isaac Albéniz’s “Granada,” Francisco Tórrega’s “Fantasia on Themes from ‘La Traviata,'” John Cage’s “Dream,” Jacques Hetu’s “Suite” (Opus 41) and two pieces by Miguel Llobet, “El Mestre” and “Mazurka.”

Here is the schedule of festival concerts:

Larison’s recital is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Verdery’s concert is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 21. Tickets are $20 general public, $10 seniors and students in advance at, by calling 925-5858 or at the door.

Dylla’s concert is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22. Tickets are $20 general public, $10 seniors and students in advance at, by calling 925-5858 or at the door. Dylla’s program includes music by Manuel Ponce, Anton Diabelli and Enrique Granados.


he 1 p.m. June 23 festival concert is free and open to the public.

All concerts are in Keller Hall, which is located in the Center for the Arts, main UNM campus.

At the festival New Mexico guitar luthiers will display their instruments 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the lobby of the Center for the Arts, Nielsen said.