Clarinet Takes Center Stage in Year's Last Chamber Music

SOCORRO, N.M. March 16, 2015 – The spotlight will shine on the single-reed instrument clarinet when Willy Sucre and Friends take to the stage at N.M. Tech's Macey Center for the final of four concerts in the 2014-2015 Presidential Chamber Music Series.

The performance featuring "Clarinet Quintets" begins at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 23, under the umbrella of Tech's Performing Arts Series. Admission is free to all.


Willy Sucre returns for the season's final chamber music concert.


"Once again, we are pleased to present another concert featuring Willy and Friends," said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. "And we are indebted to Tech President Dr. Daniel López for his generosity in sponsoring the Chamber Music Series, making it available to everyone without charge.

"And, as a special treat, New Mexico Tech's resident oenologist, Bill Stone, will host a wine tasting for Tech Club – Club Macey," Kalish continued. "Bill teaches a class on wines through Tech's Community College, and has a new book out that he will sign and sell at the event," she said.

"The before-concert event will pair splendidly with the program Willy has in store for chamber music aficionados," added Kalish.

Sucre on viola will be joined by James Shields on clarinet, Roberta Arruda and Justin Pollak on violins, and Joanna de Keyser on cello, to perform Clarinet Quintet by Richard Rodney Bennett, The Cellist of Sarajevo by David Wilde, and Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op. 115 by Johannes Brahms.

Sucre admits that a chamber performance featuring the clarinet is very unusual.

"It is unusual," he said, adding that "one of the greatest pieces written for the clarinet is (Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op. 115) by Brahms."

Few works had been composed for the clarinet at the time Brahms was writing his clarinet quintet; and, even now, only a few works were ever composed for that particular wind instrument.

Not until Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) composed his Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115, for German clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld did the instrument begin to receive considerable attention from composers.

Among those composers were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Anton Reicha, Carl Maria von Weber, Franz Krommer, Alexander Glazunov, amid others. Brahms is said to have modeled his composition after Mozart's.

The piece consists of four movements: Allegro in B minor, in 6/8 time, Adagio in B major, in 3/4 time modulating into B minor and then B-flat minor and back to B major, Andantino in D major, in common time evolving into Presto non assai, ma con sentimento in B minor in 2/4 time; and Con moto in B minor, in 2/4 with a key transition to B major returning to B minor into a meter of 3/8 and then transforming into 6/8 time.

The performance opens with a more modern approach to the clarinet with Bennett's Clarinet Quintet, commissioned by the Warwick Arts Society in 1992. As one of Britain's most respected and versatile musicians, Bennett (1936 – 2012) produced over 200 works for the concert hall and 50 scores for film and television, as well as having been a writer and performer of jazz songs for over a half-century.

Clarinet Quintet opens with a lyrical statement by the clarinet, juxtaposed by an underlying, somewhat tense, comment from the quartet. The clarinet soon joins the strings in this vein, often trading lines back and forth. The final movement is based on a jazzy motif.

David Wilde (b. 1936) is an English pianist and composer who, in the 1990s, composed many works protesting against human rights abuses, and was twice honored by the city of Sarajevo.

The Cellist of Sarajevo, dedicated to Vedran Smailovic, was recorded by Yo-Yo Ma for Sony Classical. As a pianist, Wilde has won several major prizes, including a first at the Liszt-Bartók competition in Budapest in 1961. The legendary Nadia Boulanger was a jury member and invited him to Paris for further study.

The composition by Brahms will close out the performance.

Clarinetist Shields, an active chamber and orchestral musician, is currently the principal clarinet of the New Mexico Philharmonic and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, Ontario, and was formerly the principal clarinet of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra from 2006 until 2011.

He holds a bachelor's degree in clarinet performance from The Juilliard School of Music. Shields has appeared as soloist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Wind Symphony, and the Chatter Chamber Ensemble, and has performed as principal clarinet with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, the Astoria Music Festival (Astoria, Oregon), and the Interlochen Arts Festival's World Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Violinist Arruda recently received her Master degree in Violin Performance from the University of New Mexico, under the tutelage of Carmelo de los Santos, and has played as a soloist and chamber musician throughout New Mexico since 2007.

She completed her bachelor of music performance in Brazil and received an Artist Diploma from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Budapest, Hungary, where she spent two years under full scholarship from the Vitae Foundation.

Roberta was a member of the Santa Fe Symphony and held a one-year position with the now defunct New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, and performs extensively throughout the southwestern United States. She will be the featured soloist with the Los Alamos Symphony this upcoming October and with the Red Rock ensemble in November.

Violinist Pollak is a native of Santa Fe currently living in Albuquerque. As a student at the University of New Mexico, he studied with Leonard Felberg and Bernard Zinck, and he also took lessons from Kimberly Fredenburgh on the viola. Justin is currently a violinist with the Santa Fe Symphony and the New Mexico Philharmonic. When not playing music, he enjoys cooking, running, biking, and hiking

Cellist de Keyser is Professor Emerita at the University of New Mexico. After winning a medal at the Geneva International Competition, she has performed extensively in a solo and chamber music capacity throughout the U.S. and Europe. She received high acclaim from major music critics for her solo performances in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Athens, Oslo, Amsterdam, and Mexico City. While she was a participant in the Pablo Casals Master Classes, a film made of her lesson on the Dvořák Concerto won the Vienna Film Prize.

Ms. de Keyser is a participant in the Arts-In-Medicine Program at the University of New Mexico, where she performs for patients at the UNM Hospital.

Violist Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and is the driving force behind the "Willy Sucre & Friends" concerts. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Sucre studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in La Paz, Colby College Chamber Music Institute in Waterville, Maine, Mannes School of Music in New York, and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland.

His experience includes extensive chamber music concerts, lectures and school demonstrations, CD recordings, and television performances throughout South, Central, and North America. Sucre spends most of his summers in South America looking for new works of chamber music by modern composers and encouraging composers to write new pieces, especially piano quartets. He enjoys performing with ensembles of diverse instrumentation.

Wine Tasting Kicks Off Chamber Music Concert

"Anyone who knows Bill Stone knows that when it comes to wine, the man does, indeed, know his stuff," said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. Stone also is a Professor of Mathematics at New Mexico Tech, and its new Dean of Arts and Sciences, in his other life.

The Tech Club – Club Macey wine-tasting fete featuring Stone as host gets under way at 5:30 p.m. in New Mexico Tech's Macey Center. Price is $7 for members and $10 for non-members.

"It's a very humble price and well worth it," Kalish said.

Here is the wine and food menu:

Ham with White Wines:

Riesling – Cotija Cheese with Fresh Pear and Table Crackers

Sauvignon Blanc – Sharp Cheddar with Fresh Apple and Table Crackers

Sparkling – Swiss with Grapes and Table Crackers

Salami with Reds:

Montepulciano – Brie with fresh berries and Crostini

Shiraz – Muenster with Strawberries and Crostini

Cabernet Sauvignon – Gouda with grapes and Crostini


– NMT –


By Valerie Kimble /New Mexico Tech