NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

NMSU music professor receives New Mexico's highest artistic honor

Maestro Lonnie Klein of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra at New Mexico State University was awarded the Centennial 2012 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts for music. Klein, a full professor who also teaches music in NMSU's College of Arts and Sciences, will be recognized in a public ceremony from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at the New Mexico Museum of Arts in the St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe.

Lonnie Klein conducting with arms raised
Maestro Lonnie Klein of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra at New Mexico State University was awarded the Centennial 2012 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts for music. (NMSU photo by Robert Yee)

Established in 1974 by Governor Bruce King and First Lady Alice King, the Governor's Arts Awards celebrate the role that artists, craftspeople, and arts supporters play in the cultural and economic life of New Mexico. The awards are given to living artists and arts supporters who have demonstrated lifetime achievement in their art form or contributions to the arts in New Mexico.

"I'm very honored and I'm humbled actually, because making music is not mutually exclusive, it's inclusive, so it takes a lot," Klein said. "And I'm really happy that northern New Mexico is recognizing what the university is doing, what I'm doing, what our musicians are doing and what our boards are doing in the community. This is an award that can be shared with every one."

This year marks Klein's 13th season as the conductor and music director for the 70-member LCSO, an ensemble featuring faculty members, community musicians, talented students and other artists. As maestro of the LCSO, Klein has had 10 consecutive sold-out seasons with a 97 percent sell-out rate in the seasons that followed.

"Strangely enough the economic downturn did not impact the Las Cruces Symphony," Klein said. "That's amazing, that's the kind of support we have."

NMSU provides significant support for the symphony, funding not only Klein's position, but providing the venue for performances and other support services.

"We are proud that Governor Martinez has recognized professor Klein's extraordinary accomplishments," said Dean Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "It is gratifying to see that the high level of investment and support the College of Arts and Sciences provides has allowed our Las Cruces Symphony to thrive under Maestro Klein's leadership."

Klein, who teaches beginning conducting and orchestra, also conducts the university symphony orchestra, which is a synthesis of music majors and non-music majors.

The maestro embraces NMSU's land-grant mission, heading up three outreach programs that bring musical education to more than 15,000 children throughout Las Cruces and Dona Ana County.

Music In Our Schools (MIOS) provides students in grades K-12 with free concerts featuring ensembles of brass quintets, woodwind quintets and string quartets from the LCSO.

The Adopt-A-School program partners one symphony musician with one school once a month for the academic year. This program gives students the opportunity to meet the musician while learning about the orchestra and field of music.

Friday Night at the Symphony (F.N.A.T.S) provides students in grades 3-12, as well as NMSU non-music majors, with free passes to hear the orchestra in a "classic" working rehearsal.

"And then we have our youth and family programs where we bus in all the 5th graders in the county and we do youth concerts, usually on a Wednesday or a Thursday morning," Klein said. "We do three back-to-back concerts, then we have a family concert on Saturday that's open to the entire community, and we encourage parents to bring their children."

Klein came to NMSU in 1999 from Indiana where he had conducted the orchestra at the University of Evansville for 10 years.

He holds a doctorate in performance from the University of Illinois. He received a master's in conducting and clarinet performance from Michigan State University, and obtained his bachelor's in music education from Murray State University in Kentucky.

Klein is among six other recipients honored with the state's highest award for art. Prior to the event a public reception and exhibition will be held for the honorees at the Governor's Gallery in the New Mexico State Capitol from 3:30pm to 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

"With support from the university, my chair, the dean, the provost, the president and certainly the board of directors and the Las Cruces Symphony association, all our sponsors, our donors, our patrons who attend concerts, and then of course our musicians, they just give their heart and soul for every performance," Klein said. "It takes all these people coming together to make an orchestra happen. I'm very proud of our accomplishments."

For more information about the governor's awards visit http://nmcentennial.org/events/2012-centennial-governors-awards-for-excellence-in-the-arts/. For more information about the symphony's outreach efforts visit http://www.lascrucessymphony.com/educational_outreach.php.