Albuquerque Chamber Soloists in Concert Sunday, April 7

The Albuquerque Chamber Soloists’ 2018-19 season concludes with a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 7 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1100 Indian School NE. Music of Sergei Prokofiev, Samuel Barber, Johannes Brahms and Jean-Baptiste Barriere. Tickets are $15 general public, $12 seniors, $5 students. Advance tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com, at http://www.abqcs.com, and at PianoWerkes, 4640 Menaul NE, or at the door. Cash or check only.

A pre-concert reception and chat are at 2:15 p.m.

By David Steinberg

Johannes Brahms String Sextet No. 2 concludes the Albuquerque Chamber Soloists’ April 7 concert and it also closes out the ACS’ 2018-19  season.

“The sextet is the big piece on the program. It’s about 30 minutes long and it’s the biggest in terms of the number of personnel,” said ACS president James Holland.

“Brahms is my desert-island composer. The piece itself is symphonic in scope. …What I love about Brahms is how well he writes for strings — such a richness to the sound.”

Holland said that all six players are equal partners, whether playing the primary themes or propelling the piece forward.

The six players are Holland and Lisa Donald on cello, Jason Sah on viola and Cármelo de los Santos, Gabriel Gordon and Megan Holland on violin.

A theme in the first movement is a musical anagram. Brahms, James Holland said, had been briefly engaged to a German singer named Agathe. The theme has the letters of her name that correspond to successive notes.

“So he literally spelled her name with the notes,” Holland said. “He composed the piece when he was in his early 30s, several years after he had broken off the engagement. He may have been in a nostalgic frame of mind and thinking about her.”

The concert opens with Jean-Baptiste Barriere’s Sonata for Two Cellos. Barriere, a Frenchman, lived in the late Baroque period. He became a well-known cellist as well as a composer of works mostly for the cello. In recent years, his music is being performed more frequently, Holland said.

Megan Holland said the defining character of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins in C major is that the two parts are entwined.

“There’s a lot of back-and-forth rhythms in all of the movement. The two violin parts are very dependent on one another to create unified themes,” she said. “There are some really driving rhythms in the second and fourth movements. They are fiery. …And the harmonies are pretty Russian.”

Holland said she has played the work many times and is excited to be performing it with Cármelo de los Santos in the April 7 concert.

Also on the program is Samuel Barber’s “Dover Beach,” a work for baritone and string quartet.

Paul Bower, who is singing the baritone part, said the work has a lot of nature imagery. “Barber’s music is great to sing. The range is very comfortable. It has a good melody with rewarding lines and phrases,” he said.

The text is a setting of a mid-19th century poem by Englishman Matthew Arnold.

“Barber composed it at age 21 while still a student at the Curtis Institute of Music,” said Megan Holland. “It was one of the few pieces from his youth that he felt good about his entire life. The poem is multi-layered and fairly dark… (the text is about) looking over the English Channel from the beaches of Dover on a moonlit night.”

But, she noted, the poem is a metaphor for humanity losing its moorings, its faith.

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Review: “Kinky Boots” is One Red-Hot Musical – Visually and Emotionally

The musical “Kinky Boots” is being staged at 7:30 p.m. today (Friday, March 8) and repeats at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9 and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10 in Popejoy Hall, Center for the Arts, main UNM campus.  Tickets are available at www.popejoypresents.com, at  www.unmtickets.com, by calling 925-5858 and at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore and the Pit (Dreamstyle Arena), and at the Center for the Arts box office.

Review by David Steinberg

“Kinky Boots” is  a musical wrapped around a series of uplifting, emotionally – and socially -charged concert songs. The songs make the musical.

Thursday’s opening night audience – mostly middle-aged theatrergoers – wildly cheered the singing with the gusto of teenagers. It is a feel-good show.

The songs, written by pop singer Cyndi Lauper, elevate the musical above its intertwined storylines. But you have to know the storylines to understand the songs.

The basic story is about Charlie, (Connor Allston) the young son who must deal with the dim future of his late father’s shoe factory in provincial Northampton, England. Fewer men are buying its dress shoes. What to do – shutter it or keep it open? Urged by one of its employees to find a niche market, the son agrees.

At Charlie’s insistence, in steps the vibrant male cross-dresser Lola nee Simon, (James Mosley).  Lola wants the factory to make his design of flashy boots; their heels must withstand the weight of male bodies. (the song “Sex Is in the Heel”).

Before, the factory can retool, Charlie, Lola and the workers have to deal with their personal problems, which are also society’s issues.

One powerful Act I song, “Not My Father’s Son,”  brings out the difficulties Charlie  has with his girlfriend because he wants to redirect the shoe business, and of Lola wanting to make her father understand his orientation of being a man in women’s clothes.

Act II finds Charlie searching for his identity -and his own acceptance – in the song “Soul of a Man” and Lola seeking acceptance for what she is in the tender, teary song “Hold Me in Your Heart.”

In one Act II scene Lola and bulky factory worker Don (James Fairchild) enter a boxing ring to decide who is more macho. Don wins because Lola, a former boxer, allows him to. Don knows it. More importantly, and key to the main storyline, Don comes to accept Lola for what she is. That allows the factory workers to come together and produce the new line of red-hot boots.

Though Lola and Charlie share top-billing, it is Mosley’s glamour and compassion as Lola who drives, and steals, the show.

Lola’s part is propelled forward in part by her bevy of supporting sequined, dynamic dancers – the Angels – in several numbers. These cross-dressing Amazons are decked out in brilliantly colored costumes and heat up the stage. Wow!

They bolster the shout-out gospel-like songs that close Act I (“Everybody Say Yeah”) and Act II (“Raise You Up/Just Be”).

“Kinky Boots” won a Tony Award for Best Musical of 2013 and Lauper earned one for Best Score.

Harvey Fierstein wrote the book. He is known for writing many Broadway hits, including “Newsies,” “La Cage aux Folles,” and “Torch Song Trilogy.”

“Kinky Boots” is based on a 2006 British film of the same name, and it, in turn, is based on a true story.

Tango Anyone? The ABQtango Fest 2019 is Wednesday, March 13 through Sunday, March 17

ABQtango Fest 2019 runs from Wednesday, March 13  through Sunday, March 17. All events are at First United Methodist Church, 315 Coal SE. Some events are free and others are with admission. For more information visit www.qtango.com or call 506-1728.

By David Steinberg

Erskine Maytorena isn’t exaggerating when he says that ABQQtango Fest is the largest live tango music event in the world.

The key word in his declaration is live.

“We have no recorded music at all. We have the most events that feature live music,” Maytorena said about the Albuquerque festival, now in its second year.

Maytorena is the founder, organizer, and director of the festival. All events are at the First United Methodist Church, in Downtown Albuquerque.

The festival kicks off at noon Wednesday, March 13 with a half-hour performance that is part of the church’s Bach’s Lunch Concert series.

The concert’s featured artist is Japan’s Yukie Kawanani, whom Maytorena describes as one of the best bandoneon players around.

“She performed last year at the festival and was probably the biggest hit. She has a sparkling personality. She’s someone everyone loves to play with yet she has no ego,” he said.

Kawanami will do solos and perform with ensembles.

Other box lunch performers will be Maytorena’s Qtango ensemble, violinist Keiko Kadby, who will solo and play with the quintet Los Angeles del Tango. Also performing  will be members of Tango Llaneros of Lubbock, Texas.

A $5 box lunch is available and donations are accepted. Donations will help pay to restore the church’s piano.

There is a Wednesday evening Potluck Practical/Open Rehearsal. $25 admission.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14 is a free gala concert titled “A Short History of Tango.”

The featured ensemble is La Juan D’Arienzo, an 11-piece band with four bandoneons from Buenos Aires.

“We’ll talk about some background of tango. We’ll talk about arrangers of tango music. The arrangements are equivalent to the big band arrangements (during the swing era). That’s the parallel I want to draw. There are multiple versions of many famous tango compositions,” said Maytorena, who plays bandoneon and sings.

Performing at the gala will be the Qtango ensemble, Keiko Kadby, Yukie Kawanami, Tango Llaneros and the Los Angeles del Tango ensemble that will have Mary Anne Sereth doubling on bass and violin.

Mary Anne Sereth plays double bass with Los Angeles del Tango and will be on violin in the grand orchestrra.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday is an Art Deco Milonga, a party primarily for dancers.

Saturday after there are two classes for dancers taught with a full orchestra. It is followed by a Black and White Milonga, a dress-up party that starts at 6:30 p.m. Space is limited. Call 506-1728 for reservations.

The Sunday March 17 Tea Milonga begins at 3 p.m. It, too, is mainly for dancers.

Music at the Time – and Places – of Leonardo da Vinci

Música Antigua de Albuquerque presents paired concerts titled “Leonardo’s World: Music at the Time of Leonardo da Vinci” are at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3 at Christ Lutheran Church, 1701 Arroyo Chamiso, Santa Fe and at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10 at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, 601 Montano NW.

Tickets are $20 general public, $15 seniors and $10 full-time students. For reservations and more information call 505-842-9613 or email musicaantigua@comcast.net.

By David Steinberg

There’s a good reason that “Leonardo’s World,” the title of Música Antigua de Albuquerque’s paired March concerts, refers to Leonardo da Vinci.

The ensemble’s concerts recognize the 500th anniversary of the death of the famous Renaissance Man who painted the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci died in 1519.

Most of the music in the concerts was composed by people who were active in the cities where – and -when – da Vinci lived.

The first city on the program is Florence.

Da Vinci was born in the Italian town of the same name where his peasant-mother lived.

“When he was five he went to live in the household of his wealthy father, who lived in Florence,” said Colleen Sheinberg, a co-founder of Música Antigua.

The program opens with four works by unknown composers that are carnival songs that were performed during Mardi Gras and Florence’s annual May festival, Sheinberg said.

The second section, “More Music from Florence,” concludes with a late 15th century song by Bonnel Pietrequin that bids farewell to the city.

The next two sections have sacred and secular pieces that six composers wrote while living in Milan. The two well-known composers in this group are Franchinus Gaffurius and Josquin des Prez.

Des Prez’s piece “Scaramella va alla guerra” is a humorous song about a swashbuckler who always gets into trouble, Sheinberg said.

“Because it is humorous and lively we are using some of our more humorous sounding instruments on it. So we doing it with krumhorns, shawm, and also viol and recorder,” she explained.

She said she’s certain that Leonardo knew composers in those two cities “because he associated with Lorenzo di Medici in Florence and was familiar with Ludovico Sforza, the duke of Milan.”

Des Prez’s music reappears in a section that refers to Venice and in another section to the cities of Mantua, Cesena and Rome.

The program closes with music by composers who lived in France. One of them is “Doulce mémoire,” by Pierre Sandrin, who died 40 years after da Vinci’s death. The text was by the French king Francis I,  who had hired da Vinci as architect decades earlier.

“We don’t know if Leonardo heard any of these pieces. He could have but we don’t have any evidence. We have to assume the general musical milieu of the time,” Sheinberg said.

Da Vinci was a musician himself, she said He sang and played the lira da brachia, a bowed instrument played violin style.

Besides Colleen Sheinberg, the other members of Musica Antigua are co-foiunder Art Sheinberg, Hovey Dean Corbin Jr., Dennis Davies-Wilson,, Ruth Helgeson and David McGuire.

“The Pirates of Penzance” at UNM This Weekend. It Will Make You Smile and Laugh

Review

UNM Opera Theatre stages Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” at 7:30 p.m. today (March 1) and Saturday, March 2, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 3 in Keller Hall, Center for the Arts, main UNM campus. Tickets are $12 general public, $10 seniors and $8 students at www.unmtickets.com, by calling 925-5858 or at the Center for the Arts box office.

Supertitles are shown above the stage.  Prof. Kristin Ditlow gives a talk one hour before curtain. 

 

Review by David Steinberg

There are professional repertory companies that perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas of the 19th century.

The UNM Opera Theatre may not be one of them. Its staging of G&S’ “The Pirates of Penzance” is officially a student production.

But let me tell you, these young performers – undergraduates and graduate students – have the sound and look of professionals. Bravo!

All of them were outstanding in Thursday evening’s opening performance, from the leads to the ensembles to the musicians in the pit at UNM’s Keller Hall.

The singing and the acting blended beautifully. There were moments of drama and melodrama in between long passages of comedic patter and wordplay.

The opera tells the story of young Frederic, a member of a special band of pirates. Special because they’re all nice guys behind their piratical facade. Imagine that.

Frederic (sonorous tenor Curtis Storm) thinks he can end his service as a pirate because he’s approaching his 21st birthday. Problem is he was born on Feb. 29 in a leap year so he can’t unilaterally terminate his service with the band until 1940.

Frederic is a self-admitted slave to duty as a pirate. That loyalty endears him to his charming, cheerful love interest Mabel (soprano Sophia Neal with a memorable singing voice. OMG). Mabel is one of the daughters of Major-General Stanley, who falsely claims he’s an orphan. Being orphans happens to be the same fake claim the pirates make about themselves. (“Orphan! Often!”) 

Lillian Ridout, in a trouser role, meets the vocal demands as the paternal major-general.  In a reverse trouser role is counter-tenor Trent Llewellyn as Kate, another of Stanley’s daughters.

The role of the Pirate King is comically performed and richly sung by Jonathan Patton, who inserts asides into his lines. In one aside he provokes laughter by gently declaring “That’s my song!” He knows how to use body language.

The character of Ruth is an older female pirate who insists she must have Frederic. He’s reluctant to commit to her until he checks out other candidates, perhaps prettier, perhaps younger. Ruth eventually finds a mate. The role of Ruth is double cast. Karah Ingraham sang it with gusto Thursday and returns in it Saturday evening. Grace Weaver sings it tonight (Friday) and in the Sunday matinee.

The policemen are as hapless a gang as the pirates; they seem like the model for the Keystone Kops of American silent films.

Three cheers as well for the student pit orchestra and its conductor Kristin Ditlow, who also serves as music director and vocal coach for the production. Sam Shepperson, who heads the UNM Opera Theatre, directed and produced the opera.

“The Pirates of Penzance” provides audiences with hefty servings of merriment and silliness, qualities that give emotional balance to our lives today, 140 years after the opera premiered.

Willy Sucre and Friends Are Back. This Time with La Catrina String Quartet in Concert in Placitas, Silver City and Socorro

Willy Sucre and Friends – La Catrina String Quartet play music of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Ludwig van Beethoven, Julian Plaza and Paquito d’Rivera at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 17 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, six miles east of Interstate-25 in Placitas.

The concert is part of the 32nd  season of the Placitas Artists Series. For tickets in advance visit http://www.placitasarts.org, or go to The Merc Grocery Store, Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas, or Under Charlie’s Covers in Bernalillo or at the door.

The program repeats in concerts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at the Light Hall Theater, Western New Mexico University, Silver City and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23 at Macey Center, New Mexico Tech, Socorro.

The Socorro concert is free. The Silver City concert is $15 general admission.

By David Steinberg

La Catrina String Quartet opens three Willy Sucre and Friends concerts with the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos, considered Brazil’s most important composer of the 20th century.

The open work is Villa-Lobos’ String Quartet No. 17.

“He has intricate rhythms. …It’s really interesting the way he organized rhythms and harmonies. You can tell right away it’s Villa-Lobos,” said Jorge Martínez Ríos, La Catrina’s violist.

The work’s first movement has “triplets all over the place” and is kind of the engine of the whole piece, he said.

The second movement “sings beautifully. It feels like you’re improvising on the different instruments of the quartet. It’s like a serenade, like a choro,” Martínez Ríos said in a phone interview.

Choro in this musical context means lament or weeping.

String Quartet No. 17 premiered at the Library of Congress and it was the last string quartet Villa-Lobos wrote before he died in November 1959.

“We’ve listened to (and read) his other quartets and No. 17 was the one we liked the most,” Martínez Ríos said.

Two short pieces by other Latin American composers are also on the first half of the program.

One is “Payadora” by Julian Plaza, an Argentine composer of mainly popular music.

“It’s three minutes long but it has a lot of dance elements. It’s very festive, very witty,” Martínez Ríos said.

The other is Paquito D’Rivera’s “Wapango,” which the violist described as challenging because it is fast and very flashy in its jazz chords and terrific melodies. D’Rivera is a Cuban-born jazz saxophonist who has lived in the United States for many years.

The second half of the concerts has Sucre, a violist, joining La Catrina for Ludwig van Beethoven’s Viola Quintet in C major. It’s the only composition Beethoven wrote for this combination of instruments.

“You hear a young Beethoven. The melody is always elegant but you hear Beethoven’s character,” Martínez Ríos said.

“The second movement is really beautiful. It has very expressive lines though Beethoven is often criticized for writing melodies that don’t sing. In this they do. The harmonies are beautiful, too.”

However, he said, the first violin carries the weight of the quintet.

La Catrina has been the quartet in residence at New Mexico State University for nine years.

The other ensemble members are violinists Daniel Vega-Albela and Simón Gollo and cellist Jorge Espinoza.

La Catrina has regularly toured in the U.S. and Mexico. In 2014, the quartet’s first commercially released CD “América Latina: A Musical Canvas” was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award.

The three Willy Sucre and Friends concerts are Sunday, March 17 in Placitas, Tuesday, March 19 in Silver City, and Saturday, March 23 in Socorro.

Piano Recital Sunday, March 3 at New Mexico School of Music

Pianist Lawrence Blind will be in concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3 at the New Mexico School of Music, 136-J Washington SE. The concert is part of the school’s Faculty Recital Series. Tickets are $15 general public, $10 seniors, $5 children. New Mexico School of Music students are free. Call 266-3474 to reserve seats and pay with a credit card. Cash or check only at the door.

By David Steinberg

Pianist Lawrence Blind says he always likes a varied program for his concerts, and his Sunday, March 3 performance is no exception.

The compositions are some of Blind’s favorites and, he noted, they also are demanding, physically and mentally.

He opens with three sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti.

“All three are brimming with dramatic and intimate moments,” said Blind, who is the director of the New Mexico School of Music.

Following the Scarlatti sonatas is Franz Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in E-flat major, which Blind called “a masterpiece. It shows his adventurous writing, suspenseful pauses and surprising key shifts and changes.”

Next is Fredric Chopin’s Ballade in G minor. “It begins with a simple presentation of the first theme. Then it comes back with different moods, sometimes intimately, quiet., and sometimes all the fanfare the pianist can muster,” he said.

Blind said it is like reading a long novel and following the characters as they change and develop.

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Three Etudes – Tableaux follow the Chopin.

The first etude, in E-flat minor, Blind said, has a somewhat tumultuous opening but the pianist has to restrain it, though there are moments when the mounting suspense can’t be held back.

The second etude, in G minor, has a beautiful theme and chords at the start and then in the center of it comes a wild cadenza out of nowhere, he said.

The third one, in D major, has an energetic opening with crashing octaves and chords with a main theme that should be played evenly and lightly. The middle section “is almost pure chordal harmony though still rhythmic,’ Blind said.

“L’ilse Joyeuse” by Claude Debussy follows the Rachmaninoff. “It is one of the most challenging things to perform – the lightness required, the filigree. I love the piece. …It flows with splashes of color. The middle theme feels like you are floating across the ocean …” he said.

The Debussy, Blind added, is difficult to pull together because it changes characters so frequently and quickly.

Closing the program is a set of three etudes for piano by Blind’s 12-year-old son, William.

Last year, the etudes won the Professional Music Teachers of New Mexico’s 2018 Junior Composition Competition Prize, the regional association’s competition and then the Music Teachers National Association’s competition.

The younger Blind, a seventh grader at Madison Middle School, will also perform  the etudes at the MTNA’s convention on March 17 in Spokane, Wash.

“Rent” the Rock Musical is at Popejoy Hall This Wekeend. Don’t Miss It

“Rent” is being staged at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. today (Saturday, Feb. 16) and at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, Feb. 17) at Popejoy Hall in the University of New Mexico’s Center for the Arts, main campus. Tickets are available at www.unmtickets.com, at the UNM Bookstore and at the Center for the Arts box office.

Review by David Steinberg

The life-affirming rock musical “Rent” is about the electric power of love – romantic love and the love of friends. And love is entwined in the belief you should live in the moment. It is set in the late 1980s in the squalor of a neighborhood in New York City’s East Village.

Romance blossoms among young couples struggling to survive. There’s Mimi, a drug-addicted exotic dancer and Roger, the reclusive guitarist living with AIDS and wanting to compose the song of his life before he dies. There’s the drag queen Angel and Tom Collins, a teacher who credits Angel for teaching about life. And there’s the combative lesbian couple Maureen and Joanne. Maureen used to date Mark, Roger’s roommate. Mark, a wannabe filmmaker, is the narrator of the musical, bringing storylines forward through his demanding vocals.

The stories of “Rent” are magnificently conveyed through the blending of narration and song. The musical’s most famous numbers are “La Vie Boheme,” which closes the first act, and “Seasons of Love,” which opens Act II. Both are sung by the …company.

As memorable and rousing as those two singalongs are, the weight of the musical falls on the emotions of the couples. Mimi (Deri’Andra Tucker) and Roger (Joshua Bess) meet in the song “Light My Candle” and later face uncertainty in “Without You.”

The tragic figure of Angel ( Javon King) and Collins (Devinré Adams) show the beauty and depth of their love for each other in “I’ll Cover You.” Angel’s voice is angelic; Collins’ is a modern-day Paul Robeson.

The song “Take Me or Leave Me” explains the difficult relationship of Joanne (Lencia Kebede) and Maureen. The dynamic, flashy Lyndie Moe portrayed Maureen in the first act and was replaced by understudy Tori Palin in the second act.

The musical’s title takes its name from the reality that these friends who live in a rundown apartment building, don’t have the money to pay the rent. Not last year’s rent,  not this year’s rent nor next year’s rent.

The word “rent” also has another meaning, as in tearing apart. Of lives.

This weekend’s performances at Popejoy Hall are part of the 20th anniversary national tour of “Rent.” Don’t miss it.

The musical is the work of the masterful hand of Jonathan Larson, who wrote the music, lyrics and book. Sadly, Larson died of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm the day after the final dress rehearsal for its off-Broadway opening.

Had he lived, Larson would have witnessed “Rent” receiving accolades – the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

“Rent” is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme.” The opera premiered in 1896 and exactly 100 years later “Rent” opened on Broadway.

“Rent” borrows several elements from the opera. In the opera,  a sickly seamstress named Mimi is the female lead. …Roger explores a melody on his guitar that is the familar opening notes of  “Quando m’en vo,” Musetta’s aria in the opera. … Angel’s last name of Schunard is similar to Schaunard, the name of one of the ensemble of friends in the opera. … The song title “La Vie Boheme” is a take off on the opera’s title. …Benny is the landlord in the musical and Benoit was the landlord in the opera. …The musical and the opera both open on Christmas Eve.

Review: “The Sound of Music” Shimmers

“The Sound of Music” is being staged at the University of New Mexico’s Popejoy Hall at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. Popejoy Hall is in UNM’s Center for the Arts.

Tickets are available at www.unmtickets.com, at www.popejoypresents.com, at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore and at Dreamstyle Arena (The Pit), by calling 925-5858 or at the UNM Center for the Arts box office.

Review by David Steinberg

“The Sound of Music” is a golden oldie, and the national touring company of the musical proved Thursday night on the Popejoy Hall stage that it shimmers today as it did when it opened on Broadway 60 years ago.

The score by Rogers and Hammerstein has plenty of songs that people still lovingly sing the tunes. Songs like “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “So Long Farewell” and, of course, the title song remain favorites.

Matching the beauty of the music is the potency of the multii-layered story.

Yes, it is a story of true love between a man (Capt. von Trapp) and an endearing young woman (Maria). And it is a story of the same woman and her love for the captain’s seven children for whom she is their governess, then later their stepmother.

It is also a story of  Maria sharing her love of life with the children.

That love of life that pulls Maria out of the abbey where she’s a postulant and hopes to become a nun one day. But the Mother Abbess advises Maria that the abbey isn’t a refuge to escape to.

The production, which is at Popejoy through Sunday night, features the vocally well-matched duo of Jill-Christine Wiley as the engenue Maria and Mike McLean as the captain who gradually allows his military bearing to bend in the face of romance.

The seven von Trapp are a winning ensemble. Their singing, humor and insightful comments draw so much attention to them that it is can be difficult for audience members to refocus on the next lines from the adult characters. Talk about scene stealing.

Lauren Kidwell as the Mother Abbess displayed a powerful operatic voice in her solo of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in the final scene of Act I.

Besides the stories of love, “The Sound of Music” also makes an emphatic political point.

The musical is set in Austria of 1938, the year Nazi Germany annexed the country. Increasingly Capt. von Trapp is surrounded by Austrian Nazis and Nazi sympathizers while he remains opposed to the German regime. The song “Edelweiss” the von Trapp family sings is a painful lament for the Austria that was.

He is forced to decide between fleeing his homeland with his family or returning to military duty with the now warmongering Germany. He chooses the former.

The political extremism in the musical echoes in today’s political climate in the United States.

“The Sound of Music” Comes to Popejoy Hall for Six Performances

“The Sound of Music” will be staged at the University of New Mexico’s Popejoy Hall at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. Popejoy Hall is in UNM’s Center for the Arts.

Tickets are available at www.unmtickets.com, at www.popejoypresents.com, at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore and at Dreamstyle Arena (The Pit), by calling 925-5858 or at the UNM Center for the Arts box office.

By David Steinberg

To borrow and tweak a line from the title song, the Sandia Mountains will come alive when “The Sound of Music” is staged at UNM’s Popejoy Hall.

A national touring company production of the beloved musical will present six performances starting Thursday, Jan. 24 and running through Sunday, Jan. 27.

The well-remembered 1965 Oscar-winning film version starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

The film was based on the Broadway production that opened in 1959 – 60 years ago – and closed after 1,443 performances. It won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

“I think people will be pleasantly surprised how the live production comes to life,” said Jake Mills, who portrays Max Detweiler,  a music agent, producer and friend of Capt. George von Trapp.

The story centers on Maria, whom the widowed von Trapp hires as governess to his seven children. Maria falls in love with his children. Then she and von Trapp fall in love with each other.

The musical is set against the backdrop of the Nazis’ 1938 Anschluss (“annexation”) of Austria. Von Trapp opposes the Nazis.

Mills said his character of Max is under-utilized in the movie. In the stage production, he said, “Max is present. He sings. He gets to show a new perspective as ‘uncle’ to the children. …I get to be the comic relief. …I’m definitely very lovable. I say that in one of my lines.”

And Max gets to sing more in the stage production than he does in the film, Mills noted, and mostly sings with the character of Elsa, a wealthy baroness.

This is Mills’ second year with the national touring company of “The Sound of Music.”

He had been on a national tour of “Annie” several years ago.

Mills, who lives in Manhattan,  has also had roles in regional productions of “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Spamalot,” “Avenue Q” and “Parade.”

“Parade” premiered on Broadway in 1998. The musical is a dramatization of the 1913 trial of Leo Frank, wrongfully convicted of raping a young girl, an employee in the pencil factory he managed.

“Regionally, I did ‘Parade’ at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn, N.Y. The production itself was beautiful… And the story itself is moving, dramatic and beautiful. It was an experience that spoke to all of us doing the show and it brought us all closer together,” Mills said.

At his father’s encouragement, Mills’ got his first stage experience was when he was about 10 years ago and his family was living in Oklahoma City.

“My first show was ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ The next summer I did ‘The Music Man.’ From there I ended up doing high school musicals. My choir teacher got me involved and convinced me to go to college for music,” he said.

Mills attended Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. where he planned to study opera. But then he changed majors. He got two bachelor’s degrees over five years – one in vocal performance and the other in musical theater.

After graduating Mills moved to New York.