Teaching at Keene State gives me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people who are passionate about music, as I am. The classical guitar is going through an exciting period of growth, both in new repertoire and an increased level of performance. I enjoy the challenges of studio teaching and hearing my students perform and improve their musicianship and technical skills.
I also enjoy directing the Guitar Orchestra. Together, we have explored a wide range of repertoire, including Renaissance Dances, Vivaldi Concerti, Beatles tunes, and the most adventurous compositions of today’s composers, like Arvo Part, Andrew York, and Leo Brouwer. Members of the orchestra and I have taken our music to Boston, New York, Staten Island, Ecuador, and around the state to conferences, high schools, and private academies to share with audiences and promote the Keene State music program. – José Lezcano
Described by New Millennium Guitar magazine as “a superb guitarist as well as a first-rate composer and arranger,” Dr. José Manuel Lezcano has captivated audiences on four continents. His programs featuring both classical and Andean music have taken him as recitalist, collaborative musician, and concerto soloist from Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City to major venues and festivals in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, and Germany.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1960, Lezcano was invited in 1991to join the faculty of Keene State College, where he is professor of music and teaches courses in guitar, music theory, and Latin American music; he directs the Guitar Orchestra and Latin American ensemble.
Lezcano’s own Guitar Concerto (2004), which he premiered in New York City as soloist with the North-South Consonance Chamber Orchestra directed by Max Lifschitz, has received critical acclaim after release on the North-South label in 2007 as “Remembrances/Recuerdos.” Fanfare magazine wrote, “Colorfully scored ... agreeable music, and dashingly performed by the composer.” Lezcano performed the concerto with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Peru in September 2008.
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 Alry and Tuscany, have been performed by major artists including Ricardo Cobo, Antigoni Goni, Duo Fresco, the Alturas Duo, and William Bennet. A recent CD by Ms. Goni, “Songs from the New Village,” on Koch International, includes José’s Sonatina Tropical.
Lezcano has earned numerous awards, including first prize in the MTNA National Guitar Competition, the NH State Council on the Arts’ Individual Artist Fellowship, NHMTA Composer of the Year (2002 and 2007), KSC Distinguished Research Award, and a Fulbright Award to Ecuador, where he performed as orchestral soloist and pursued research on indigenous guitar traditions. Most recently, three of his works received New York premieres (his guitar and viola concerti and his Tango-Overture) by orchestras North-South Consonance and the Astoria Symphony with soloist Brett Deubner.