David Amram – who has made music with the leading musical lights of the 20th century, from Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland to Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk to Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson – is back in town. At 88, he has not slowed down: last week he performed with his jazz quintet in New York; this weekend, he is in Las Cruces for the New Mexico premiere of his double concerto, “Partners”; and while he is here, the world premiere of another work, “Bulgarian Wedding,” will take place in New Jersey.
“Partners” will be performed by the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra with violin soloist Maria Schleuning and cellist Jolyon Pegis, conducted by Lonnie Klein. In this interview at KRWG with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin, Amram said he chose the title because “partnership is what all music built to last is all about.” Amram drew inspiration for each movement from famous partnerships in music: folk legends Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger, jazz greats Billie Holiday and Lester Young, and the Cuban musicians Machito and Celia Cruz. Amram, who has been called one of the most performed composers of our time, often draws on multiple musical styles in his music.
With all his experience and accomplishments, including seven honorary doctorates, Amram says he’s “still a work in progress,” and advises young people not to think about “building a career. Think about building a life.” The LCSO concerts take place at the Atkinson Hall on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Listen here to a wide-ranging conversation with Amram, including what he calls his life-time enrollment in the ‘University of Hangout-ology’:
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