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JOSE LEZCANO, COMPOSER/GUITARIST

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Born in Havana, Cuba in 1960, his family emigrated to the United States in 1962.  He earned degrees from Peabody Conservatory (BM), University of South Carolina (MM), and Florida State University (Ph.d. music theory) where his teache rs included Aaron Shearer and Christopher Berg.  Lezcano was invited to join the faculty of Keene State College in New Hampshire in 1991, where he is Professor of Music and teaches courses in guitar, music theory, and Latin American music. He directs the Guitar Orchestra and Latin American Ensemble.  He also participated in master classes taught by Michael Lorimer, Sharon Isbin and Leo Brouwer, the noted Cuban guitarist and composer who referred to him as "a magnificent guitarist --un guitarrista magnifico."

Dr. Lezcano's first Guitar Concerto (2004), which he premiered in New York City as soloist with the North-South Consonance Chamber Orchestra directed by Max Lifschitz, has received critical acclaim after release on the North-South label in 2007 as "Remembrances/Recuerdos."  Fanfare Magazine wrote: "Colorfully scored ... agreeable music, and dashingly performed by the composer."  Turok's Choice wrote:  "Lezcano's Guitar Concerto (is) a first-rate composition ... Lezcano is a fine guitarist in his own cause." And the American Record Guide wrote:  "Amiability is the keynote in the latest collection ... by the excellent North-South Chamber Orchestra ... Lezcano's Guitar Concerto is a atmospheric, tuneful melange."  In September, 2008, Dr. Lezcano performed this concerto with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Peru. He has also performed it with orchestras in Ecuador, Colombia, and New Hampshire.  In 2008, Lezcano's work on the CD "Remembrances/Recuerdos" was nominated for two Grammys, for "Best soloist with orchestra," and "Best contemporary composition."  His second concerto for guitar, "Conciero Cubanero," received its first performance in New York City, May 2011, with Max Lifchitz conducting the North-South Consonance Orchestra and the composer as soloist. Jose also performed it in June 2011 with the Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil del Ecuador under the baton of Maestro Patricio Aizaga.  "Cubanero" is an homage to popular Cuban mid-century dance music like the bolero, cha-cha-cha, and guaracha.  It is scheduled for re-premeire with Maestro Lifchitz and North-South for November 11, 2013, with a newly completed third movement.  In 2012, Dr. Lezcano premiered another concerto, for guitar, bassoon, and strings, titled "Jornadas," (Journeys) in Quito, Ecuador with the Carrera Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Luciano Carrera, and bassoon soloist Matthew Shubin.  Also in 2012, Jose's "Tango Overture" for string orchestra, received its debut recording on "Crosscurrents," by North-South, and received critical acclaim.  Recent commissions and premieres include "Key West Suite" for husband-and-wife guitar ensemble Duo Amaral (2013), and Fantasia Latina for guitar and harp, composed for Franziska Huhn and premiered by Jose and Franziska at the 2015 Centro del Mundo Festival in Quito, Ecuador.  During 2015, Dr. Lezcano also completed and premiered "Canciones de Ausencia" for mezzo and guitar, at the Barcelona Festival of Song, accompanying Patricia Caicedo, mezzo and collaborator (as lyricist).  

Dr. Lezcano's works include five concerti, a song cycle, a choral suite, chamber music, and solos, written in an eclectic, expressive, but accessible language that is praised for "energy" and "soaring melodies" (Flute Talk). His chamber works with guitar, published by Alry and Tuscany, have been performed and/or recorded by major artists including Maestra JoAnn Falleta (conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony), Stephen Aaron & Jane Berkner, Ricardo Cobo, Antigoni Goni, Duo Fresco, the Alturas Duo, and William Bennet. A CD by Ms. Goni and Laura Gilbert, flute,, "Songs from the New Village," on Koch International, includes José's Sonatina Tropical.

José has earned numerous awards, including first prize in the MTNA National Guitar Competition;  the NH State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship; NHMTA Composer of the Year (2002 & 07); KSC Distinguished Research Award, and a Fulbright Award to Ecuador where he performed as orchestral soloist and pursued research on indigenous guitar traditions. Jose's scholarly publications include Latin American Music Review, Soundboard, and the Latino Encyclopedia. He has lectured throughout the state for the NH Humanities Council on Ecuadorean indian guitar traditions, rituals, and mythology. Among his numerous awards:

  • First prize, 1982 MTNA National Guitar Competition;
  • 1998 Fulbright Award in Ecuador to teach, perform, and research indigenous guitar traditions;
  • 2002 Commissioned Composer of the Year (New Hampshire Music Teacher's Association);
  • 2003 New Hampshire State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship;
  • 2003 Keene State College's Award for Distinction in Research and Scholarship in recognition of his activities as performer, scholar, and composer.
  • 2007 Commissioned Composer of the Year Fellowships from the New Hampshire Music Teacher's Association; a New Hampshire State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship.
  • 2007 Commission from Rochester Folk Arts Guild, funded by the New York State Music Fund and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and of a commission from the NHMTA for a viola concerto.
  • 2008 Honorable Mention, MTNA National Competition for Composition, for Viola Concerto.
  • 2012  Barcelona (Espana)  He performed a solo recital; acompanied singers at the Barcelona Festival of Song, and was Composer-in-residence, premiering his new song cycle "Canciones Nostalgicas", with Festival founder and director soprano, Patricia Caicedo.
  • 2013  Artist-in-residence at The Studios of Key West.
  • 2013 Commission for Duo Amaral, "Key West Suite" for guitar duo
  • 2015 Commission for Patricia Caicedo, "Canciones de Ausencia," on poetry by Ms. Caicedo
  • 2015 Commission for Centro del Mundo Festival, "Fantasia Latina" for guitar and harp
  • 2016 Identidades International Festival (Havana) 
  • Second Double concerto for flute, guitar and strings (“Sojourners”) at the Basilica Menor de San Fransisco de Asisi, 
  • with Antipe di Stella, and Ivan Valiente conducting the Orquesta Solistas de la Habana
  • 2016 New York premiere of his “Postcards” for flute and piano
  •  at the Spectrum NYC Composers Now Festival, with Lisa Hansen and Max Lifchitz (2/28).  





About Jose's works

Jose’s works have been performed by leading virtuosi worldwide and professional orchestras, and are available through publishers (Alry, MundoArts) and if unpublished, directly from him. His works pay homage to folk and popular traditions of Latin America and the U.S. while utilizing a modern harmonic language that owes much to jazz and classical composers like Bartok and Hindemith. Several colleagues and musicians have commented on the lyricism and haunting melodies of the slow movements, and on the rhythmic vitality of the faster movements. Performers enjoy the technical and musical challenges involved in presenting Jose’s music.  Jose has received commissions from Meet the Composer New England (a guitar orchestra work with narrator for the Boston Guitar Society), the Rochester Folk Art Guild and New York State Music Fund (for his chamber trio, "Diarios."), and from the Duo Amaral (for the forthcoming "Key West Suite," composed during his 2013 Artist Residency at the Studios of Key West).  He has also written a Viola Concerto for virtuoso Brett Deubner and his Viola/Guitar Sonata as recorded by the Duo Alturas has received thousands of hits on youtube. 


COMPOSITIONS (published and unpublished)


Cuban Sketches (1998), Suite for Guitar, Flute, and Bassoon (optional second flute or oboe/english horn), with optional bass and latin percussion. Three movements: Guaracha Nevada, Bolero, Miami Merengue. Premiered at Keene State College, May 1998. Since then, performed at Mitad del Mundo Festival (Quito, Ecuador, June 1998), at Chengdu Conservatory of Music, People’s Republic of China (July 1998), and at Valparaiso University, Indiana (January, 1999). Published by Pan Publication, Charlotte, NC (1-800-USEMUSIC) Published by Alry.


Sonatina Tropical for guitar and flute (1999), in three movements (En Clave de Son, Cancion de Madrugada, Samba-Finale). Performances in Quito (premiere), Dartmouth, Memphis, and Keene. Published by Pan Publication, Charlotte, NC (1-800-USEMUSIC) Recently reviewed in Flute Talk. Published by Alry. www.alrypublications.com


Poemas Concertantes, for guitar, flute, and string orchestra (1999), in three movements (Ilusion, Cancion, Furioso). Premiered in Quito with National Symphony of Ecuador (June, 1999); performed again at Apple Hill Chamber Festival with Arden Quartet (July, 1999) and in Loja, Ecuador, with Sinfonica de Loja (August 1999). Newer version, with orchestra of strings and winds, premiered in February, 2000, with Keene Chamber Orchestra. Performed June 2005 with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Peru, Gerald Elias, conducting; Cesar Vivanco, flute soloist, and the composer as guitar soloist.


Postcards, for flute, guitar, and bassoon, (2000), in three movements (Entre dos mundos, Una tarde de agosto, Mambo jambo). Premiered at Apple Hill Chamber Music summer festival, June 11, 2000. Previous version, for bassoon and piano, premiered at Keene State College, April 18, 2000. Performed in saxophone version, KSC Faculty Composer’s concert, Feb. 13 2002.


Sonata for oboe and guitar (October 2000), commissioned by the D’Amore Duo of Baltimore, Md. In three movements: Allegretto Movido, Adagio, and Tango-Fuga (“A la tristeza de Buenos Aires”). Performed on tour in D.C. area by the D’Amore Duo. Also performed by myself in version for flute and guitar (Quito, Mitad del Mundo Festival, June 2001), oboe and guitar (Nashua Public Library, Summer 2001), bassoon and guitar (Apple Hill Chamber Music Festival, Nelson, NH, Summer 2002). Most recent version for viola and guitar, performed in New Jersey by Brett Deubner and Christoper Kenniff of Kean University (September 2004), also by Alturas Duo at Simsbury Chamber Music Festival, Conn. (May 2006). Published by

www.mundoarts.com


Canciones para Alfonsina, four songs on texts of Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni, 2000. Premiered at Keene State College, March, 2001, with soprano Laurel Browne. Three of these revised for mixed chorus and guitar solo on commission from Keene High School Chorus and Music Department, premiered May 2005, also performed with Keene State College Chorus, April 2005.


Four Impromptus for Violin and Cello. Commissioned by New Hampshire Music Teacher’s Association as part of 2002 NH Composer of the Year award. Premiered at NHMTA convention, Concord, NH, Sept. 14, 2002, with Placek/Blaskova duo.


Three Goya Portraits for guitar solo (2002). Currently being performed on tours by Prof. William Feasley of the University of Maryland. Movements: Royal Family, Antonia Zarate, & the Blind Guitarist. Also performed by Lezcano at Second Interamerican Guitar Seminar and Festival, Ibague, Colombia, April 2006.  Recorded by guitarist Joseph Pecoraro on his CD, "American Perennials."  


Guitar Concerto no. 1

(originally Concerto for Guitar, Strings, Percussion, and optional Andean folk instruments). Premiered February 1 2004 with Jose Lezcano, soloist, and Eric Stumacher conducting the Keene Chamber Orchestra. April 2005 performances in Colombia for Conservatory of Ibague and University of Tolima; S.A. premiere of Lezcano Guitar Concerto with Conservatory Orchestra. Revised for June 14 2005 New York performance with North-South Consonance as Concerto for Guitar, Strings, Winds, and Percussion. Also performances with Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil del Conservatorio Escuela Superior de Musica (Quito Ecuador), June 2005; and with Orquesta Sinfonica del Peru, Lima, September 2008.


Tango Overture for Chamber Orchestra (2006). Scored for winds (1,1,1,1,) Bb trumpet, F Horn, Strings, Piano, Timpani ad Percussion. Oct. 15 2006 World Premiere with Keene Chamber Orchestra. Performances with Orquesta Sinfonica de Loja, Ecuador (2007 season).


Tango Overture for String Orchestra or String Quartet (2006). March, 2007 premiere with Keene State College Faculty Quartet. Performances with North-South Consonance, Max Lifchitz conducting, New York City, May 2008. Recorded by North-South in January 2010 for forthcoming CD release, October 2010. Performed in January 2010 by Orquesta de Camera de Quito, Casa de la Musica, Gustavo Lovato conducting.


Viola Concerto. Commissioned by the NHMTA, for winning their 2007 NH Commissioned Composer Contest. Also won Honorable Mention at the National level of MTNA. Premiered by virtuoso solois and New Jersey Philharmonic principal Brett Deubner, with the Astoria Symphony, conducted by Silas Huff, at Laguardia Performing Arts Center (Queens, NY) and in Manhattan, March 2008. Scored for solo viola, strings, and percussion; three movements, 14'.


Diarios, Suite for flute, guitar, and bassoon (or viola replacing bassoon). Commissioned by Rochester Folk Art Guild, and New York State Music Fund with Rockefeller Philanthropy Associates. Premiered 2008 in New York State with RFAG, and recorded on CD, "Latin Landscapes." Four movements, 18'.


Canciones de Lluvia. Three songs on poetry of Chilean Poet Jorge Nef. Premiered July, 2009, at the Barcelona Festival of Song, Spain, with festival organizer Patricia Caicedo, soprano. Publishedwww.mundoarts.com


Jornadas, Double Concerto for Guitar, Bassoon, and Strings. 2008.  Premiered June 2012 with Matthew Shubin, bassoon; Jose Lezcano, guitar; and Luciano Carrera conducting the Festival Orchestra at the Festival Internacional en el Centro del Mundo, Quito, Ecuador.  


So the Poet will Heard; Homage to Victor Jara. For Guitar Orchestra and Narrator. Commissioned by Boston Guitar Society and Meet the Composer New England for Festival 21, premiere April 2010.


Guitar Concerto no. 2, “Concierto Cubanero.”  2010. World premiere was May 22, 2011 with North-South Consonance, New York City. Latin American premiere was June, 2011, with Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil, Quito, Ecuador, and Patricio Aizaga conducting.  Re-premiered with newly completed third movement, November 2013, with Max Lifchitz conducting North-South Consonance and the composer as soloist, for New York City's Hispanic Heritage Week Celebration.   


Canciones Nostalgicas, for mezzo and guitar. First performance, July 2012, with Patricia Caicedo at Barcelona Festival of Song.


Tres Piezas Cubanas.  Suite of three pieces, "Un Mojito y Habano; Bolero Manaba; Homenaje a un Cubanazo," Premiered at Spanish Rhapsody Concert at Unity of the Keys, in Key West, January 2012.  Also recorded by William Feaseley on his 2014 CD, "Panamerica."  


Nunc Dimmitis, for mixed chorus, guitar and flute. Dedicated to University of Akron Chorus and its director, Samuel Gordon; forthcoming premiere, summer tours of Italy, 2013.


Key West Suite (2013).  For two guitars.  Movements: Seven-Mile Bridge; Bolero del Artadecer; Duval Street Stomp.  Commissioned by Duo Amaral and premiered in 2014.  


Flauta, Mojito, Habano, y Guitarra.  Premiered by Gustavo Lovato, flute and Jose Lezcano, guitar, at la Casa de la Musica, Quito, Ecuador, January 2014.  


Mojito, Guitarra, Flauta, Habano, y Cuerdas For solo guitar, solo flute, violin, viola, and bass (or cello).  Premiered July 2014 by Karrie Griffith, flute and Miguel Bonachea, guitar, with other members of Music in Miami, at Trinity Cathedral.