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Air and Hammers group commemorate war with poetry, music

Baritone Edmund Connolly and his wife, pianist Maxine Thévenot, who perform as Air and Hammers, will present a concert on Saturday.

Baritone Edmund Connolly and his wife, pianist Maxine Thévenot, who perform as Air and Hammers, will present a concert on Saturday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last summer, Albuquerque baritone Edmund Connolly attended a Westminster Abbey service commemorating the centenary of World War I in London.

“That was very moving and a beautiful thing,” he said.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was more than 37 million: more than 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

“Fewer and fewer people remember it,” Connolly said. “It seemed appropriate to explore both the music and the poetry of that time.”

Connolly and his wife Maxine Thévenot, also known as the duo Air and Hammers, will honor that anniversary in the University of New Mexico’s Keller Hall on Saturday, Jan. 31.

With the addition of violinist Barbara Barber, they’ll present a program by British composers whose lives were touched by the First World War interspersed with war poetry read by KUNM’s Spencer Beckwith. The composers will include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Holst and choral composer Gerald Finzi.

“That era is an ear when there was something of a golden period of art song music for voice and piano,” Connolly said.

The Vaughan Williams portion of the program will include “The Lark Ascending” for violin and piano, he said.

“That’s a piece many people will recognize.”

The Holst songs were written for voice and violin and taken from medieval religious texts.

The British-born Connolly is the choral director at Albuquerque Academy. He also serves as assistant organist at the Cathedral of St. John. Thévenot is director of UNM’s Las Cantantes, the only collegiate women’s choir in the state. She also serves as music director at the Cathedral of St. John.

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