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NMSU music faculty to perform 'old-fashioned recital' at Atkinson Hall

Nationally recognized pianist Laura Spitzer and Latin Grammy winning violinist Daniel Vega-Albela will take the stage at New Mexico State University for an "old-fashioned recital" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23. The faculty performance in Atkinson Hall marks their first concert together and is free and open to the public.

Laura Spitzer and Daniel Vega-Albela standing sided by side
Nationally recognized pianist Laura Spitzer and Latin Grammy winning violinist Daniel Vega-Albela will take the stage together for an 'old-fashioned recital' at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, in New Mexico State University's Atkinson Hall. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)
Laura Spitzer sitting at piano with right hand on keyboard
NMSU resident pianist Laura Spitzer (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)
Daniel Vega-Albela posing with violin
Latin Grammy winning violinist Daniel Vega-Albela (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"My hope is that people will forget that they have watches on and just get transported to another place," said Laura Spitzer, associate professor of music and resident pianist at NMSU. "Everybody daydreams, but there are moments when the music really grabs you. Usually those places have been worked over so carefully that the players can just let go emotionally."

The program will feature four works including "Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor" by Brahms, "Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major" by Mozart and Debussy's only sonata for violin and piano.

"An old-fashioned recital is why we included Mozart's violin concerto," said Vega-Albela, violinist for NMSU's La Catrina Quartet and assistant professor of music in the College of Arts and Sciences. "This is actually something that is not practiced very much anymore. It's very uncommon nowadays for a violinist to program a violin concerto in the context of a recital."

Spitzer has toured throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Austria and Germany. The recipient of four touring grants from the Nevada State Council on the Arts and the Nevada Humanities Committee, and a Steinway artist, Spitzer traveled by truck with a Steinway in tow from 1984 to 2003, bringing classical music to rural communities and schools throughout the U.S. and Canada.

She has been featured on ABC and NBC news in the U.S. and Canada, and in such publications as People, Time, Reader's Digest and Clavier magazines. Spitzer joined the NMSU faculty in 2000.

Vega-Albela started his violin studies in Mexico City. At 15, he won a silver medal in the first National Violin Competition in Mexico City. He has played with many ensembles in the United States, such as the St. Cecilia Chamber Orchestra, Western New York Chamber Players, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. He has toured Japan and Mexico, and has had many appearances as soloist with different orchestras throughout Mexico. He has also worked with several chamber and symphony orchestras in Mexico, such as the Orquesta de Cámara de Morelos, the Camerata de Torreón and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería.

Founder of the La Catrina Quartet, Vega-Albela joined the string faculty at NMSU along with his quartet colleagues in 2009. In 2007, he participated in the Association of Performing Arts Presenters' Young Performers' Career Advancement Program, which culminated with a performance in Carnegie Hall, in New York.

La Catrina Quartet tours regularly throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and has received several awards and recognitions, such as a 2012 Latin Grammy, a Western Michigan University's All University Research and Creative Scholar Award and the North Carolina Arts Council cARTwheels 2009 and 2010 touring program.

"For me, as a professional string quartet player, I have not had the opportunity to collaborate with piano in many, many years, and I'm extremely excited to have the privilege to play with such a wonderful pianist as Dr. Spitzer," Vega-Albela said.

"I am really enjoying the collaboration with Vega-Albela," Spitzer said. "He is a terrific player, and I admire his playing as well as the La Catrina Quartet's. They seem to play with one feeling and they always play with passion."