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New all-women ensemble to perform Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater

Leora Zeitlin

There’s a new music ensemble in Las Cruces, and they’re making their debut this weekend with one of the masterworks of the 18th century, the Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Ana Maria Quintero and Jessie O’Hara, both graduate students in violin at NMSU, co-founded Vox Vallis Women’s Ensemble to bring high-quality concerts to the region. The decision to begin with Pergolesi’s masterpiece came from Quintero, who has performed it several times, beginning when she was 15.

“For me, it’s just inspiring. Every note is sublime,” she said in this interview with O’Hara on Intermezzo, hosted by Leora Zeitlin. The depth of feeling stems in part from the fact that Pergolesi wrote the work as he was dying of tuberculosis at the age of 26. But it also comes his understanding of the “Doctrine of Affections,” Quintero explained, which is a Baroque theory that states that specific musical phrases and devices will evoke particular emotions in the listener (and even physiological changes). “Every movement has a hint of the doctrine,” she said, “and is key to understanding the music.”

Vox Vallis Women’s Ensemble will feature seven musicians at Sunday’s concert. “I knew we had a lot of amazingly talented, hard-working women who haven’t been able to showcase their abilities in this kind of setting [before],” O’Hara noted. She and Quintero will play violin, joined by Elizabeth Greene on viola, Erin Espinoza on cello, and Janet Loman on organ. The vocalists will be Terry Kay Gilbert and Christa Fredrickson. The concert is Sunday at 3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.

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