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Young soloists play with orchestra

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two award-winning 16-year-olds – one a pianist, the other a cellist – will solo with the New Mexico Philharmonic in a neighborhood concert next weekend.

The pianist is Gabriel Landstadt of Los Lunas and the cellist is Mario Bastea-Forte of Albuquerque. They won the 2012 Jackie McGehee Young Artists’ Competition – Landstadt in the piano category and Bastea-Forte in the string category.

In the Saturday, April 14, concert at Congregation Albert, Landstadt will perform the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major with the orchestra.

If you go
WHAT: New Mexico Philharmonic with conductor David Felberg
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14
WHERE: Congregation Albert, 3800 Louisiana NE
HOW MUCH: $10, $25, $35, and $50 for VIP seating in advance by visiting or at the door

“I had to memorize it for the competition, so I’m playing it without sheet music for the concert, and I am learning the whole concerto,” said Landstadt, who is home-schooled.


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Though only a junior, he said he will enroll this fall at the University of New Mexico as a music performance major. The piano professor at UNM is Falko Steinbach, who is Landstadt’s piano teacher.

“He is one of the best and most gifted students I’ve ever taught,” Steinbach said. “He certainly can have an international career if he wants to.”

Bastea-Forte, a junior at Albuquerque Academy, will play the first movement of Edouard Lalo’s Concerto for Cello in D minor. He performed the movement in the competition.

“It has an introduction with loud orchestra hits. The soloist comes in all alone. It stops the whole orchestra. Then there’s a cool, catchy theme that’s maybe triumphant,” he said.

“Lalo wrote it like a Spanish piece. Part of the first movement is kind of Spanish-sounding bullfighting.”

Bastea-Forte played piano for a few years in elementary school before shifting to the cello.

“In sixth grade the Academy requires that you either play an instrument, sing or dance,” Bastea-Forte said. “I wanted to play a lower (string) instrument and I like sitting down to play the cello.”

Lisa Collins, his cello teacher for the last five years, said her student is “very self-motivated, very thorough in following through with his musical curiosities. He’ll get intrigued by a composer and really study them and understand the recordings he’s listening to.


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“He’s a dream to teach. He really considers a lot of the aspects of the art on his own,” Collins said.

The Music Guild of New Mexico Inc. presented the McGehee competition this year. It is a private, nonprofit that supports music organizations throughout the state.

The guild succeeded the New Mexico Symphony Guild, a volunteer organization that was under the now-defunct New Mexcico Symphony Orchestra, said Karla Bressan, the vice president of education for the Music Guild of New Mexico.

“Our concern after the demise of the orchestra was that we wanted to continue this competition. We really did not have a public concert for the winners to play in,” Bressan said.

The NMSO had presented the competition winners in a zoo concert.

“We talked about finding a different venue for it. The zoo was OK, but we wanted (the winners) to have the experience of a symphony orchestra and the audience in a concert hall,” she said.

The guild’s goal, Bressan said, is to offer a performance opportunity for the young musicians to build their confidence.

“That’s how musicians are made,” she said.

Bressan said the guild is a sponsor of the New Mexico Philharmonic concert and is paying for the piano rental.

On the same program conducted by David Felberg are the overture to W.A. Mozart’s opera “The Abduction From the Seraglio” and Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 (“Italian”).