Spanish Rhapsody – Melody Cooper, singer; and Jose Lezcano, guitar

August 19, 2012 @ 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Union Church
133 Old Church Rd
Claremont, NH 03743
No admission charge, donations encouraged
Melissa Richmond

Relax on a Sunday afternoon with singer Melody Cooper and grammy-nominated guitarist Jose Lezcano. This concert is a part of the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts Summer Concert Series. No admission, but donations encouraged.

Melody Cooper is a veteran of the New York City jazz scene and currently resides in Key West, Florida. Melody works in both the classical and popular genres as a pianist and vocalist and Celtic harpist. She is a member of the Paradise Big Band, a frequent soloist with the Keys Chorale and a founding member of the unique chamber ensemble Bach to Bossa Nova. International highlights from Melody’s career include singing at Lincoln Center, NYC with Dexter Gordon, the run of her successful one woman show “Torch” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe,appearing as Flora in La Traviata with the Island Opera Theater and appearing as a soloist with the Prince George Symphony in Canada. In Key West, Florida, Melody has appeared at every club and theater in town and is well known as a performer and producer of many large community events. Melody’s studies in Spain has led to her developing a series of concerts entitled Spanish Rhapsody which feature Spanish and Latin American classical and popular music. Melody is delighted to be bringing Spanish Rhapsody 2, a collaboration with guitarist Jose Lezcano, to Claremont, New Hampshire.



Cuban-born guitarist, composer, educator, and folklorist Dr. José Manuel Lezcano has performed for audiences on four continents. His programs of traditional and South American guitar repertory, and his own solo, concerto, and chamber works, have taken him from Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City to major venues and festivals in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, China, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic, appearing as recitalist, collaborative musician, and concerto soloist. Described in 2012 by Fanfare Magazine as “an excellent guitarist as well as an imaginative composer,” Jose has earned numerous professional recognitions, including two Grammy nominations, the NH State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, twice NHMTA Composer of the Year, and a Fulbright Award to Ecuador where he performed as orchestral soloist and pursued research on indigenous guitar traditions.

He premiered his second guitar concerto, “Concierto Cubanero,” last summer in New York City and in Quito, Ecuador. In 2012, Jose’s “Tango-Overture” for strings received its debut recording on the North-South label. Fanfare Magazine described the work as “a dance in a dream that sweeps away restrictions and sweeps away the dreamer.” Dr. Lezcano’s first Guitar Concerto (2004), which he premiered in New York City as soloist with the North-South Consonance Chamber Orchestra directed by Max Lifschitz, received critical acclaim after release on the North-South label in 2007 as “Remembrances/Recuerdos.” For his work on the CD, Jose received two Grammy nominations and was semi-finalist for “Best Contemporary Composition” and “Best Performance, Soloist with Orchestra.” Jose also performed this concerto with the Sinfonica Nacional del Peru, and with professional orchestras in Tolima, Colombia and Quito, Ecuador.

José´s summer tours in 2012 have included Ecuador, where he premiered his double concerto for guitar, bassoon, and strings, with the Carrera Festival Orchestra; Barcelona, where he performed a solo recital, accompanied singers at the Festival of Latin American, Spanish, an Catalan song, and was composer in residence; a solo recital for the Fundacion Comillas in northern Spain; and a collaborative concert in Crete (Spirit of Liberty) featuring Latin American Nueva Cancion, Greek protest songs, and Beethoven, with singer/pianist Elina Skarpathioti.

Jose first collaborated with Melody Cooper in Barcelona at the Festival of Latin American Song in 2011, and in 2012 they performed on the Unity Concert Series in Key West in a program entitled “Spanish Rhapsody,” featuring songs and guitar solos from Latin America and Spain, including some of Jose’s original compositions. About that concert, the Key West Solares Hill Daily wrote “Lezcano and Cooper breathed in total harmony with precision and ease…they presented an elegant and sincere look into music unfamiliar to most.” Dr. Lezcano serves as Professor of Music at Keene State College, where he has taught guitar, Latin American music, and theory for 21 years.


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