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Mesilla legend featured in world premiere in NMSU concert, along with other new and rare works

Leora Zeitlin

Echoes from a legendary murder in Mesilla’s famed Double Eagle Restaurant will be heard tonight in “Grave,” a new theatrical music piece that will be premiered in Las Cruces with area musicians and actors. Actress Monica Mojica wrote the libretto about the true Mesilla story in which Senora Maes, in a pique of rage, murdered her son and his forbidden lover. Composer Lester Pack, who has collaborated twice before with Las Cruces musicians, wrote the music. Mojica, Pack, and tubist Jim Shearer, joined Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this interview at KRWG.

“It’s a ghost story,” said Pack, who noted that he found inspiration for the eerie music in the works of both Alban Berg and his own teacher, George Crumb. “I read and studied and did research on the Double Eagle and the history before I even wrote a note.”

Mojica will play the part of Senora Maes, as she has before in a program aired nationally by the Travel Channel. “Playing her a second time, I really had empathy for her and could see her frailties,” Mojica said, adding that “feelings of both terror and tenderness are echoed in the music beautifully.” She, NMSU theater department chair Wil Kilroy and professor Larissa Lury will perform the theatrical parts of the piece.

The concert will also include a new work, "3-D," by James Grant, featuring horn, tuba and percussion, and a rarely-heard “Octet for Tuba, String Quartet, Electric Bass and Percussion” by Vaclav Nehlybel. Performers include Shearer, Celeste Shearer on horn, percussionists Fred Bugbee and Larry White, La Catrina Quartet, pianist Shelle Bird, and bass player Adriel Hernandez. The free concert is at 7:30 p.m. at the Atkinson Recital Hall.

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