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“A Gift to the World”: The Great American Trio to perform music by James Grant

Leora Zeitlin

Ask members of the Great American Trio to describe the music of American composer James Grant, and you’ll hear a string of praise: “warm”, “beautiful,” “lyrical,” “challenging,” “extravagant.” To pianist Dena Kay Jones, “there’s something about his compositions that sounds so human to me,” and to horn player Celeste Shearer, he’s one of “the greatest musicians/composers [whose music] I’ve had the opportunity to play.”

Over the next week and a half, Shearer and Jones will be joined by tubist James Shearer (yes, the husband of Celeste) in three concerts that will showcase Grant’s music, as well as one work written for the trio by Tom Clary. Later in May, the trio will record the music by Grant for a cd on the Summit Label. “There’s a huge, huge range of pieces to be offered,” Celeste Shearer said. “Pieces that make you want to cry… pieces that make you want to laugh.”

Shearer, who teaches music at Mesa Middle School, and Jones, who teaches piano at UTEP, joined Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in the KRWG studios for this interview. Jones first played Grant’s music a few years ago, when she and the Shearers recorded an earlier Summit cd, “Haunted America Suite,” which also included one work by Grant. His music, Jones said, “is a gift to the world – [that’s] how I feel when I’m playing that type of music.”

The concerts take place this Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at NMSU’s Atkinson Recital Hall in Las Cruces; Sunday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts Center in El Paso, and Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at the Tays Center on the NMSU-A campus in Alamogordo.

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