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Two concerts this weekend feature Romanian-born cellist Mihai Marica

Cellist Mihai Marica will perform in Las Cruces this weekend
Cellist Mihai Marica will perform in Las Cruces this weekend

For cellist Mihai Marica, the music of Joseph Haydn is intimately bound up with his development as a musician. As a child studying in Romania, he learned the composer’s Cello Concerto in C major, and when he was in fifth grade, he began learning Haydn’s chamber music. This weekend, he’ll return to that beloved concerto in a concert with the New Horizons Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jorge Martinez Rios, and join a number of musicians in a chamber music concert that also features music by Haydn.

“As far as cello concertos go, it’s pretty much a perfect concerto,” he told Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin and conductor Jorge Martinez Rios in this Zoom interview. “It allows the instrument and the player to be highlighted very efficiently, beautifully, it almost makes it sound like the cello has five strings instead of four. It’s beautifully crafted.”

The New Horizons Symphony Orchestra will also feature NMSU graduating music major April Gurrola in a movement of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, and two short Romantic era works by Reinhold Gliere and Camille Saint-Saens. “One of our important missions here in the city is to support our local artists and young artists,” Martinez said about inviting Gurrola to perform before her graduation. “It’ll be a nice evening to see one of our own stepping in front of an orchestra.”

On Saturday evening, Marica, Martinez, who is also a violist, and four local and visiting musicians will present an evening of chamber music by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Joaquin Turino, and Manuel Ponce. The other musicians are violinists Brigid McCarthy (concertmaster of the Las Cruces Symphony) and Mari Lee (visiting from New York), violist Elisabeth Greene, and NMSU piano professor Laura Spitzer.

Both concerts are free and open to the public at the Atkinson Recital Hall. The chamber concert takes place on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the NHSO concert is on Sunday at 3 p.m.