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A legacy resonating in 6 strings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — John Truitt says the late Albuquerque luthier Lorenzo Pimentel was a generous and kind person to him and to many others. In recognition of Pimentel’s benevolence, Truitt composed “La Fiesta de San Lorenzo,” which a 22-member guitar ensemble will premiere Saturday, April 14, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

The instrumental piece will be part of a special concert involving many musicians paying tribute to Pimentel, who died in 2010.

Behind his 11-minute composition, Truitt said, is the story of Pimentel’s journey to heaven.

If you go
WHAT: A Tribute Concert Honoring Lorenzo Pimentel
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14
WHERE: National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW
HOW MUCH: $17, $22, $27 in advance at, at the NHCC box office or by calling 724-4771. Some proceeds go to the Guitar Society of New Mexico. There will be a post-concert reception at the Park Inn Radisson. For more information call 884-1669

“In life, Lorenzo couldn’t play the guitar because he damaged his hands making guitars. In the piece he can play again,” he said.

Truitt said he woke up one morning after having thought about the piece most of the night.

“I came up with a big scenario,” he said.

In the scenario, when Lorenzo arrives in heaven no one is there. But after he plays wildly – there’s a solo section played by guitarist Audra Vigil, a freshman at Manzano High School – he is welcomed in. In the second half of the work, a loose setting of the Mexican folk song “El Cascabel,” there’s a party and an angel leads Pimentel to a place where he can continue to make guitars, Truitt said.

Truitt said he’ll direct the ensemble, which is comprised of a cross-section of the guitar community, including luthier Paul Hass and University of New Mexico and high school students.

Two of Pimentel’s sons, Rick and Robert Pimentel, chose the performers for the concert.

“We searched for people who knew my father well,” said Rick Pimentel, who is the president of Pimentel & Sons Guitarmakers.

“As soon as we said ‘Lorenzo,’ they said, ‘I’m playing.’ We still are getting calls from people who want to perform.”

Rick Pimentel said he and his brother Robert, the vice president of the company, wanted a variety of music “because our father loved all styles of music. It didn’t matter what kind. He welcomed everybody.”

Given the range of music – classical, jazz, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, mariachi, salsa and folk music – the brothers attained that goal.

Because of the plethora of musicians on the concert program, each individual or group will play two pieces. Among the performers are two other sons of Lorenzo Pimentel. Hector Pimentel y Leyenda plays nuevo flamenco. Gustavo Pimentel is a classical guitarist.

These are the other announced performers: Mariachi Fiesta Ranchera, Cosmic Jazz Trio, Watermelon Mountain Jug Band, Chuy Martinez and Los Trinos, Hector Garcia, Lewie Wickham, Siyeric, Trio Bravo with Ambrose Rivera, Los Primos, Quemozo and Up a Creek.

Truitt remembered not having a guitar at one point when he was teaching at Albuquerque High. He went to see Lorenzo Pimentel.

“He showed me a roomful of guitars and said for me to check them out and see what sounded the best. When I found one I liked, he said ‘OK, that’s your guitar. Pay me when you can.’ That was typical of Lorenzo,” said Truitt, who is the vice president of guitar for the New Mexico Music Educators Association.

“He supported students in the same way. He’d see to it that they got a guitar and pay when they could. He was a humble person and probably pretty tough and resilient to endure in business as he did and to bring his family along with him.”

The concert is the second in the Pimentel Concert Series. Rick Pimentel said there are plans to present two concerts a year in the series.