Latin Landscapes Trio launches recital series


Kevin Butler

Equinox Staff


A guitar, a bassoon, and a flute: a non-traditional Latin American music trio, comes together for a night of classical and Latino music at Keene State College.

Friday, September 2, The Latin Landscapes Trio started off the Keene State College Faculty Recital Series in the Alumni Recital Hall at the Redfern Arts Center. The trio consists of bassoonist Matthew Shubin, flutist Paul Schliffer, and guitarist and Keene State Professor of Music, José Lezcano.

Lezcano, who left Cuba with his family when he was two-years-old, moved to New York and then to Miami, Florida when he was nine-years-old.

“Music was a big influence on me when I lived in Miami,” said Lezcano,  I played my first guitar recital when I was 13-years-old.”

Lezcano said he met Shubin over ten years ago at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, N.H., where they started to play together. They have since played for the Peace Program in China and the National Conservatory of Music in Quito, Ecuador.

The trio came together after Shubin and Schliffer applied for a New York State music fund grant.

“They liked our application,” said Shubin, “But they told us they were trying to find a contemporary composer and since I had played with José and loved his composing I asked if he would write something for us and he did.”

Schliffer said, “I was really excited about the opportunity because I always loved classical Latin music. Alot of José’s music is a bridge between a more classic approach and a Latin beat and spirit that in a way is really liberating.”

One of Lezcano’s pieces the trio played was from Diarios.

“I think ‘Landscapes’ conjures up the feeling of travel,” said Lezcano. “New vistas, fresh perspectives; my music is very much inspired by my travels.”

Lezcano listed Cuba, New York City, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil as his inspirations for Diarios.

Lezcano said the piece “A Tourist in Central Park” is an homage to New York jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s such as Miles Davis. And the other piece in Diarios, “¡Brasilierando!” was inspired by his time spent in Brazil.

Lezcano added that the pieces in Diarios also had a fourth part for percussion, but rehearsal times came hard to schedule and it featured just the trio. The Cuban-born composer pointed to his students and those he has performed with as an artist as his inspiration.

“The kids keep me fresh, inspired, and wanting to do more with music,” said Lezcano. “I enjoy watching the talent come out in these students.”

One student, senior Joey Mintel said, “This is now my fifth year studying classical and Latin American music with José. He was the one who recommended I go to Ecuador, where I studied in the capital Quito in 2009.”

Mintel added he has played with Lezcano on several occasions, mostly in concertos.

Lezcano had a solo performance of two pieces by composer Celedonio Romero, titled “Soleares” and  “Alegrias.” Lezcano played the Latin American-style pieces from memory at Center Stage.

The night also featured three selections from composers considered as “The 3 Bs.” In this instance Bach, Beethoven, and Berlioz.

Schliffer said the Berlioz piece, “L’Enfance du Christ,” is about the plight of the people walking through the deserts of Egypt, and was originally scored for two flutes and a harp.

The trio received a standing ovation after their final piece, “Danza Espanola no. 1 (de La Vida Breve),” and came out for an encore piece titled “La Ventana de Estrellas,” or “The Window of Stars.”

KSC Professor of Music John Darby, who was in attendance with his music workshop class said, “I’ve played with José on several occasions and it was a pleasure to play with such a gifted musician.” Darby added he had also played some of Lezcano’s arrangements in a concerto with the Keene Chamber Orchestra.

Another Keene State Professor of Music, George Loring, said after the show, “On Labor Day weekend, to get an audience like that is no small achievement.”  Loring added, “We often take for granted what’s in our own backyard in terms of excellence.” Loring also has a performance in the Faculty Recital Series, coming up on September 23.

The trio’s latest CD titled “Latin Landscapes” is available in stores and they continue to have shows in the area. They have also played locally at the Claremont-Union Episcopal Church and at Sundays on the Hill  Weston, Vermont. The trio has also performed internationally, most recently in Quito, Ecuador.

Kevin Butler can be contacted at


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