April 2016 Meeting: Harris Becker

On New Music
This lecture will focus on commissioning new works for guitar and ensembles, working with non-guitarist composers, editing, and rehearsing contemporary pieces. With Veronica Salas, viola.

The presentation will be followed by our Open Mic. Sign up in advance to play — see the Member Events page for details. NYCCGS Member Events are free and open to all members and first-time guests, and are supported by a generous grant from the D’Addario Foundation.

Thursday, April 7, 2016, at 7:00 PM

Manhattan Theatre Club Creative Center
311 West 43rd Street, 8th floor, between 8th and 9th Ave. (map)
New York City

Harris Becker has had a rich and varied career as a guitarist and lutenist. As a young musician studying the classical guitar he had a fascination with improvisation, which led him to explore jazz. He also had a strong interest in contemporary music, which offered him the opportunity to work closely with composers and premiere many solo and ensemble pieces throughout his career. Among the composers who have dedicated works to him are Carlo Domeniconi, Hayley Savage, Raoul Pleskow, Howard Rovics, microtonal composer Johnny Reinhard, Alan Hirsh, Michael Frassetti, Joseph Russo and Richard Iacona.

Becker has performed extensively both as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Mexico and Canada. In recent years he has given concerts and master classes in New York, Alabama, Canada, Connecticut, Florida, and Bermuda. In the fall of 2014, Mr. Becker gave concerts and master classes in Thailand and throughout Vietnam including at the U.S. Consulate in Saigon. In the spring of 2015, “The Amaryllis Project” (world-renowned pipa virtuoso Liu Fang and Harris Becker) gave a concert of world premieres for pipa and guitar at the Long Island Guitar Festival which included a new work by Carlo Domeniconi.

Harris Becker is Director of Guitar Studies at LIU Post where he has established a comprehensive guitar program. In 1993 Mr. Becker founded the Long Island Guitar Festival, of which The New York Times wrote, “The ‘Long Island’ in the festival title clearly refers to its location and origins, rather than to its scope.” Mr. Becker has been a faculty member at Nassau Community College and The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Director of Music for Mixed Ensembles at the International Institute for Chamber Music at the Richard Strauss Conservatory in Munich. The Florida State Division of Cultural Affairs selected Mr. Becker to participate in Florida’s Artist Residency Program, giving lecture/performances on the lute and baroque guitar. He recently received an award for outstanding service from the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Long Island University.

Harris Becker is co-founder and artistic director of the summer music festival in rural Quebec “Songe d’été en Musique.” The festival just celebrated its tenth anniversary, at which the Youth Orchestra of the Americas took part, led by artisitic director Palcido Domingo. This concert was called “historic” by the press in Quebec. His recordings include Catgut Flambo with guitarist Pasquale Bianculli and a solo CD, Passing Through. His editions and publications are published by T.D. Ellis Music Publishing and Calavar Music.

With her “fluidly lyrical” playing (The New York Times), violist Veronica Salas is a versatile performer and teacher who has been featured as soloist, chamber musician and master class artist throughout the world. As soloist, Salas has performed with Mostly Mozart, Aspen Music Festival, USC Symphony, C.W. Post Orchestra, Colonial and Westfield Symphonies. Under the auspices of the State Department, she has given recitals and master classes in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan as well as touring the Greek Isles as violist of the Elysium String Quartet. Additional international venues include Japan with Mostly Mozart and New York Pops, Italy as principal violist of the Spoleto Festival and Europe with Barbra Streisand.

Salas has performed chamber music with Yo-Yo Ma, Eric Friedman, Lawrence Dutton, Joseph Fuchs, Stanley Drucker and is a member of Pierrot Consort, Elysium Ensemble, Modern Works, Canta Libre, Bronx Arts Ensemble and Queens Chamber Band in which she plays concertos on viola and viola d’amore.

The release of the Modern Works recording of Ge Gan-Ru String Quartets on the Naxos label was chosen by The New York Times critics as a notable recording of 2009. Other recordings include a Virgil Thomson CD where Salas is a featured artist, an all-Mozart CD with Stanley Drucker, and the Bach Brandenburg concerti featuring Lukas Foss, both on the Elysium label.

Salas has performed at the White House as acting principal of the Eos Orchestra and is presently principal violist of American Composers Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Manhattan Philharmonic, Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and Westfield Symphony. She is on the faculties of Long Island University and Bennington Chamber Music Conference. She received her BMA, MMA and DMA from The Juilliard School where she studied with Lillian Fuchs.