dsc_0050Described  by Fanfare Magazine as “an excellent guitarist as well as an imaginative composer,” José Manuel Lezcano is Professor of Music at Keene State College where he directs the Guitar Orchestra and Latin Ensemble, and teaches guitar and  courses in Latin American and Spanish music.  He is also a twice Grammy-nominated composer and performer who has performed for audiences on four continents. His programs featuring traditional and Latin American repertory, and his own original compositions have taken him as recitalist, collaborative musician, and concerto soloist from Carnegie Recital Hall and the North-South Consonance Series in New York City to major venues and festivals in Cuba, Spain, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic and Germany.

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1960, he earned degrees from Peabody Conservatory (BM), University of South Carolina (MM), and Florida State University (Ph.D. music theory).
José has earned numerous awards, including first prize in the MTNA National Guitar Competition, the NH State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, NHMTA Composer of the Year (2002 & 07), KSC Distinguished Research Award, and a Fulbright Award to Ecuador where he performed as orchestral soloist and pursued research on indigenous guitar traditions. Jose’s scholarly publications include Latin American Music Review, Soundboard, and the Latino Encyclopedia. He has lectured throughout the state for the NH Humanities Council on Ecuadorean indigenous guitar traditions, rituals, and mythology.
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” (for his Guitar
Concerto) and “Best Performance, Soloist with Orchestra” (for his solo performance in the Concerto). Jose’s second Guitar Concerto, “Concierto Cubanero,” received its premiere performance with North-South Consonance Orchestra in May 2011 with Jose as soloist, and its South American premiere that year with the Orquesta Sinfonica Juvenil de Ecuador, again with Jose as soloist.   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.”  In November 2013, Jose premiered a revised and expanded edition of Concierto Cubanero with Mr. Lifchitz and North-South as part of New York City’s Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Week.

During 2013, Jose completed an Artist Residency at the Studios of Key West, Florida; composed a commissioned work for the Amaral Duo, and performed with Karrie Griffiths of “Music in Miami,” where his Viola Concerto received its Florida premiere.  In 2013 he returned to New York to premiere a revised version of his Concierto Cubanero with North-South Consonance.  During 2014  Jose premiered his “Flauta, Mojito, Guitarra, y Habano” at La Casa de la Musica in Quito, Ecuador; played concerts for the Wisteria Chamber Music Society (MA); performed his Sonatina Tropical for Brattleboro Music Center’s “Composers in our Midst” with flutist Robin Matathias; and a duo program with Ms. Huhn for the Boston Guitar Society’s “Sunday Sounds” at Hingham Library.  Other 2014 performances include Quintets by Boccherini and Castelnuovo-Tedesco at West Claremont Center for Music, and the Cuban premiere of his “Poemas Concertantes” at the International Festival of Contemporary Music in Havana, Cuba.  His chamber work, “Mojito, Flauta, Guitarra, y Cuerdas” was premiered at “Three Sundays in July” of Music in Miami.  In November 2014, Jose  appeared as soloist, in Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Portsmouth Symphony (NH) conducted by John Page, to a standing ovation before a full house.

Dr. Lezcano recently completed a Spring 2015 sabbatical with various composition and performance projects, including concerts with soprano Dr. Rosa Tamarit Sumalla,  in Tarragona, Catalunya (Spain), where he recently served as a Visiting Professor at the Universidad Rovira i Virgili.   He also recently served again as guitarist and composer-in-residence at the 2015 Barcelona Festival of Song, for which he has composed three song cycles for soprano, musicologist, and founder Patricia Caicedo.   During 2015 he also performed solo recitals at ESMUC (Escuela de Musica de Catalunya, Barcelona) and at the University of Florida. He premiered his “Fantasia Latina” for harp and guitar with harpist Franziska Huhn (NEC and Longy Faculty) at the Mitad del Mundo Festival in Quito (June 2015).

During 2016, he appeared as soloist at the Identidades International Guitar Festival (Feb 1-7) as soloist in his own double concerto for flute, guitar and strings (Sojourners) with Antipe di Stella, flute, and Ivan Valiente conducting the Orquesta Solistas de la Habana; his Suite Cayo Hueso was also performed at the festival by Duo Contrastes, and Jose premiered two of his original solos at the festival.

As a member of the KSC Music Faculty for over twenty-three years, Dr. Lezcano’s guitar students have been frequent winners of the Department’s and College’s highest awards and scholarships, and members of the Guitar Orchestra under his direction have given concerts in Ecuador, New York City, and multiple appearances at the Boston Guitar Society Festivals.  He also curates a biannual Guitar Festival at KSC featuring concerts and clinics by guest artists and faculty musicians, and attended by regional high school guitarists and their teachers.

 Compositions

About Dr. Lezcano’s first Guitar Concerto, Fanfare Magazine wrote, “Colorfully scored … agreeable music, and dashingly performed by the composer.” Turok’s Choice wrote, “Lezcano’s Guitar Concerto (is) a first-rate composition … Lezcano is a fine guitarist in his own cause.” And the American Record Guide wrote, “Amiability is the keynote in the latest collection .. by the excellent North-South Chamber Orchestra … Lezcano’s Guitar Concerto is an atmospheric, tuneful melange.” In September, 2008, Dr. Lezcano performed his concerto with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Peru. He has also performed it with orchestras in Ecuador, Colombia, and New Hampshire.

Jose was nominated for 2009 grammys for his work on the CD “Remembrances/Recuerdos”  in two categories: “Best Contemporary Composition” (for his Guitar Concerto); and “Best Soloist with Orchestra (for his performance).

Dr. Lezcano’s works include two additional concerti, a song cycle, a choral suite, chamber music, and solos, written in an eclectic, expressive, but accessible language that is praised for “energy” and “soaring melodies” (Flute Talk). His chamber works with guitar, published by Mundoarts, Alry and Tuscany, have been performed by major artists including Maestra Joan Falleta (conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic)  Ricardo Cobo, Antigoni Goni & Laura Gilbert, Stephen Aron, Duo Fresco, the Alturas Duo, and William Bennet. Recent CDs by Ms. Goni, “Songs from the New Village,” and Mr. Aron, “Tropicale,”  include José’s Sonatina Tropical.

Awards

José has earned numerous awards, including first prize in the MTNA National Guitar Competition, the NH State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, NHMTA Composer of the Year (2002 & 07), KSC Distinguished Research Award, and a Fulbright Award to Ecuador where he performed as orchestral soloist and pursued research on indigenous guitar traditions. Jose’s scholarly publications include Latin American Music Review, Soundboard, and the Latino Encyclopedia. He has lectured throughout the state for the NH Humanities Council on Ecuadorean indian guitar traditions, rituals, and mythology. Most recently in 2007, two additional works received New York premieres (Viola concerto, and Tango-Overture) by orchestras North-South Consonance and the Astoria Symphony with soloist Brett Deubner.  In 2009, Jose premiered his song suite, “Canciones de Lluvia,” based on poetry of Chilean Jorge Nef, at the Barcelona Festival of Song, where he also performed a solo recital of Spanish and Latin American works.  In 2012 he premiered “Canciones Nostalgicas” at the Barcelona Festival and played a July 4 recital at the National Library of Catalunya, including works by Sor, Albeniz, Rodrigo, Lezcano, W.C. Handy, and others.

Among his numerous awards:

  • First prize, 1982 MTNA National Guitar Competition;
  • 1998 Fulbright Award in Ecuador to teach, perform, and research indigenous guitar traditions;
  • 2002 Commissioned Composer of the Year (New Hampshire Music Teacher’s Association);
  • 2003 New Hampshire State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship;
  • 2003 Keene State College’s Award for Distinction in Research and Scholarship in recognition of his activities as performer, scholar, and composer.
  • 2007 Commissioned Composer of the Year Fellowships from the New Hampshire Music Teacher’s Association; a New Hampshire State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship.
  • 2007 Commission from Rochester Folk Arts Guild, funded by the New York State Music Fund and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and of a commission from the NHMTA for a viola concerto.
  • 2008 Honorable Mention, MTNA National Competition for Composition, for Viola Concerto.
  • 2016 Ewing Arts Award from the Keene Sentinel.

Recordings

Jose’s work for String Orchesta, “Tango-Overture,” was recorded and released on the North-South Label’s “Crosscurrents” in 2011, by North-South Consonance Orchestra directed by Max Lifchitz.  They also performed the New York preimiere in 2009.  About the work, Jonathan Woolf, writing for Fanfare magazine, wrote of it “moving with verve from festive to melancholy with consummate ease.  There’s an ocassional dapper turnof phrase, too, and pathos for the solo violin that emerges from the string orchestral texture before the surging, successful conclusion.” 

Jose’s solo CD, Latin Images, a compilation of solo works from the Hispanic world (with two duos recorded with John Mantegna) has received critical praise. “Things get off to a good start with strong rhythmic attention to Lauro’s Natalia with its engaging 3/4:6/8 patterns….the cross-string trills in the Scarlatti sonatas, often excluded from these pieces in favor of single-string ornamentation, are an artistic inclusion…this is an enjoyable recording with an interesting, entertaining and well-played programme.” Music Web International, Review of Jose Lezcano’s “Latin Images.”

Jose’s ensemble CD, Latin Landscapes, was released in November 2008. In collaboration with Matthew Shubin, bassoonist, and Paul Schliffer, flutist, of the Rochester Folk Art Guild’s Ensemble Resonance, Jose performs his original compositions and arrangements of Latin American composers for guitar and winds, including his most recent commissioned work, “Diarios,” inspired by his travels and enthusiasm for the music of Cuba, the Andes, New York, and Brazil.

Lezcano’s compositions are published by Mundoarts.com, Alry and Tuscany. They include the Sonatina Tropical (for flute and guitar); Cuban Sketches (for guitar and two flutes);  and Poemas Concertantes (for flute, guitar and chamber orchestra).  He also has two folk-song arrangements for flute and guitar with Alry (Pajaro Campana and El Grillo).  His works have been performed by leading virtuosi such as Alturas Duo, William Bennett, Ricardo Cobo, Laura Gilbert,  Antigoni Goni, and others. Active also as an ethnomusicologist, Lezcano has published articles in Soundboard, the Latin American Music Review and the Latino Encyclopedia.

Equipment

Jose uses a 1993 Ignacio Rozas cedar top guitar; a 1972 Robert Ruck cedar top with Brazilian Rosewood sides, Classical guitar with D’Addario hard tension or Savarez Red cord and Galli sometimes. He also uses a 2001 Peter Oberg solid spruce top.

Contact email:  joselexicon@gmail.com

Phone 603 358 2810

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