Music and bands have been blowing through Macey Center as strong as spring winds this month, and fresh on the heels of three weekends of concerts, NM Tech’s PAS will feature a genre of music rarely heard in Socorro.
To PAS director Ronna Kalish’s knowledge the concert on tap next is the first time klezmer music will be performed at Macey Center. The concert features Margot Leverett, a leader in the revival of traditional Jewish music, with two other outstanding New Mexico artists Jordon Wax and Tanya Nuñez.
The 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20 concert is free and will be streamed through Facebook, YouTube and Twitch. Links and more information are always available on the Performing Arts Series web page nmt.edu/pas.
The trio’s scheduled appearance on stage in Socorro is, in a way, a quirky happenstance. Originally scheduled to replace a classical trio for the President’s Chamber Concert last year, Duke City Hora was thwarted when the world shut down before the concert. In the intervening time, the bass player was replaced by Tanya Nuñez. She played with Lara Manzanares who headlined Socorro’s first-time WomenFest on Saturday, March 6.
Margot Leverett is a living master of klezmer, the musical tradition she inherited from the generation of clarinetists who brought the tradition to America. Classically trained in music at Indiana University School of Music, she has been in the forefront of the klezmer revival, forming the Klezmatics in 1985 and then going on to a solo career. Margot Leverett was recently featured as a guest soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, along with Udi Bar-David and the artists of Intercultural Journeys, a concert and cultural organization to promote intercultural dialogue. She has toured Japan twice with The New York Ragtime Orchestra and has been featured in several Off-Broadway productions. Margot Leverett was a staff instructor at KlezKamp for over 10 years and has also taught at KlezKanada, Klezkamp West, Klezmerquerque, and at colleges, music festivals, and for Jewish organizations across the country and Europe.
Duke City Hora is the product of a collaboration between Margot Leverett and Jordan Wax that developed through the FolkArts Apprenticeship Program. The FolkArts Apprenticeship program is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and pairs artists with masters of traditional styles to help keep diverse traditions alive in the state. (“Hora” is a Romanian style of dance.)
Jordan Wax (accordion, vocals) is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and traditional musician. For the past 20 years, he has studied non-classical musical traditions with elders from a variety of cultural lineages in New Mexico, Mexico and the Midwest. He studied the Yiddish language at the Oxford Institute of Yiddish Studies, studies currently with Paula Teitelbaum, and teaches a language class for beginners and heritage speakers in Santa Fe, NM.
Tanya Nuñez, upright bass, was born and raised in southern New Mexico where no celebration was complete without music and dance: rancheras, polkas, valses and cumbias. She has worked as a bassist in a variety of traditions from classical, tango, Persian and Arabic, to country, rock and funk/soul. A member of Lone Piñon, her 2020 performances include collaborators Juan Daniel Salazar of Albuquerque (vihuela, guitar, jarana huasteca, vocals, violin), Karina Wilson of Santa Fe (violin) Santiago Romero of Agua Fria, NM (guitar, vihuela, vocals), Lucy Salazar of Albuquerque (bastonera/dance leader) and Tomas Maes (elder mandolinist/mentor) of Santa Fe.
Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe, and originally mostly dance and instrumental pieces played at weddings and celebrations. Compared with other European folk music styles, little is known about its history; but its distinctive style is easily recognizable by the infectiously joyous and heartbreakingly poignant melodies. Its influences can be heard in a variety of American tunes including compositions by Leonard Cohen, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copeland, and George Gershwin (as in Rhapsody in Blue). Jazz and Bluegrass have both influenced and been influenced by klezmer music.
The concert is the second of the Presidential Chamber Music Series funded by NM Tech President Stephen G. Wells. For more information visit www.nmt.edu/pas, or call 575-835-5688.