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Gala concert to feature two composers whose work is archived at NMSU

Two composers and a poet, whose lives and work were rooted for years in Las Cruces, will be featured at a gala concert on Tuesday. Music by composers Warner Hutchison and Samuel Hollomon will be performed by the NMSU Wind Ensemble, tuba soloist Jim Shearer, and the NMSU choirs, celebrating the fact that NMSU now has the archives of both composers, as well as those of the late Las Cruces Poet Laureate, Keith Wilson. All three taught at NMSU. Hutchison and Wilson both came here in 1967, Hutchison staying in the music department until 1996 and Wilson in the English department until 1987. Hollomon moved to the region in the early 2000s and taught for several years before his death in 2016.

The choirs will perform “Paso Por Aqui,” in which Hutchison set three poems by Wilson to music and which was first performed in 1999. The work is “intimately connected to this region, this land, its people,” said NMSU Choral Director Jake Taylor in this interview with Leora Zeitlin, noting it was commissioned for the 150th year celebration of the city of Las Cruces. Taylor said the first movement is a festive dance with mariachi flavors, the second one “speaks of the ‘cracked earth before the rain,’ and paints a vivid scene of this landscape,” and the final movement is “huge and heroic, a wonderful sonic depiction of those beautiful mountains that lie just outside of our town.” Taylor said that many members of the current Masterworks chorus sang in the premiere over twenty years ago. More than 125 singers will be on stage at Tuesday’s concert, in addition to the wind ensemble.

It was a visit by Jim Shearer to NMSU archivist Dennis Daily that spawned the idea of the concert. Sam Hollomon was Shearer’s college roommate, and Shearer wanted to secure a place for his archives. When he discovered that the university already had the archives of Warner Hutchison, with whom Shearer studied and was later colleagues with, they and Hollomon’s family agreed that NMSU was a natural place to preserve his work.

Shearer will be the soloist in a concerto that Hollomon originally wrote for him in 1990. Hollomon subsequently orchestrated it for wind band, which was premiered in 1993, and later reworked it for orchestra in 2000. “It’s the only piece I’ve premiered three times!” Shearer said.

Although Warner Hutchison died in 2019, his voice joins the conversation in two clips culled from a 2004 interview with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin.

NMSU Choral Director Jake Taylor

Musical clips in the interview come from the orchestral premiere of the Tuba Concerto, featuring Jim Shearer on tuba with the Regina Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Roger Bobo, in a concert from May 30, 2020. The clip from “Alleluia” by Hutchison was from a private cd he brought to the station in 2004.

The concert takes place Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 at the Atkinson Recital Hall.