Ellen Chavez de Leitner - violinist
Ellen Chávez de Leitner, born Margaret Ellen Usner in Embudo, and raised in Los Alamos, is a sixteenth generation New Mexican.
Ellen has performed with many orchestras, chamber ensembles, and as soloist. In Austria she was a member of the Albertschweizerhaus Chamber Orchestra, Jeunesse Wien, Huebner’s Kursalon Orchestra, the Innsbruck Symphony Orchestra, and the Graz Philarmonic. In New Mexico, she has played with the Santa Fe Symphony, the Taos Chamber Orchestra and Chorus, and numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles. Currently she performs in the San Juan Symphony in Durango, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico, as well as the Roswell Symphony in Roswell, New Mexico.
Ellen Chavez de Leitner founded “Enchantment Chamber Music” in 2008, presenting chamber music featuring musicians of high artistic caliber performing two to five concerts per year in northern New Mexico. The concerts have featured her daughters, Genevieve Leitner, guitarist, Cecilia Leitner, soprano, Father José María Blanch, various string instrument players, and guitarists Carlos Perez, Lynn McGrath, and Roberto Capocchi.
Ellen has been working with guitarist, Roberto Capocchi since January 2000, performing Baroque, Classical, and modern music. Together they have recorded a CD, “Duo Guadalupe, Music for Violin and Guitar”. Ms. Leitner’s performances as soloist have included many works written for her by Catalonian composer Father José María Blanch. She has produced a CD of his music, "Canticos de Fe", with the composer playing piano, her daughter Cecilia singing, and herself on violin.
Ellen Chavez de Leitner has taught private and group music lessons to all ages for about thirty years. The violin technique that she teaches emphasizes a physiologically oriented approach. Care is taken to make playing the violin a comfortable, enjoyable experience, and to avoid habits that lead to injury. The student progresses from basic, solid technique, to the ability to express oneself artistically with confidence. Lessons are tailored to each individual student to achieve their goals, no matter what style of music Having taught her own six children as well as many other children and adults up to 80+ years old, Ms. Leitner has gained an understanding of many different learning styles.
Ellen studied at Saint John's College, the University of New Mexico, the College of Santa Fe, the Conservatory of Vienna, and with her most influential mentor, Renata Armani Mencik Skoberne. Recently she studied Baroque music at the Baroque Performance Institute in Oberlin, Ohio, and at the Albuquerque Baroque festival. Her Baroque teachers were: Marc Destrube, Robert Mealy, Julie Andrijeski, and Emlyn Ngai, violin; Catharina Meints, Gonzalo Ruiz, and Nancy Zylstra, ensemble; Mary Anne Ballard, viola da gamba, and Paige Whitley-Baugess, dance.
Ms. Leitner is also well known as a traditional New Mexican Santera, or painter of religious icons. Her images appear on the covers of her two CD's. She frequently paints the patron saints of music, Santa Cecilia, St. Gregory, and King David. Her work can be seen at the annual “Spanish Market” on the Santa Fe plaza each year, her studio in Chimayo, on her art website: http://sites.google.com/site/ellenleitner, and at FineArt America.com.
Genevieve Leitner - Guitar
Genevieve Leitner performs and teaches guitar throughout the US and in Chile. Her top prizes include: 1st prize, Greensboro Music Teachers Assoc. Young Artists Competition, 2007 1st prize, Columbus State University Guitar Competition, junior div., 2003 1st prize, Deborah Beene Memorial Competition, 2003 2nd prize, Ozelia Vassar Memorial Competition, 2007 She has performed in master classes for Manuel Barrueco, Roland Dyens, Carlos Pérez, Scott Tenant, Jason Vieaux, and others. Genevieve received her Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied with Gerald Klickstein. Genevieve has performed in various ensembles with voice, flute, English horn, violin, harpsichord and other instruments. She regularly teaches guitar master classes and lessons to students of all ages. In addition to performance and instruction, her musical work includes collaboration on theatre and film music. She enjoys playing repertoire from a wide range of time periods and countries.
Lynn McGrath - Guitar
Classical guitarist Lynn McGrath is being heralded as a phenom. Blending her passion for theatre, Spanish Language and Literature and guitar she has shared the poetry and music of “Platero y yo” with audiences on 4 continents as both guitarist and theatrical narrator, an unprecedented feat. Bringing the writings of Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez to life for audiences across the globe, from children in a Peruvian orphanage to guitar connoisseurs at the Guitar Foundation of America Festival, one critic wrote the following “…wonderful timing, poise, wit, and grace, while getting a full rich sound from her guitar. Anyone who loves either music or poetry would have been charmed, but those who appreciate both, not to mention stage presence and acting skills, were electrified by this tour-de-force of artistic multi-tasking. —Richard M. Long, Editor, Soundboard
In the United States, she has played at such prominent venues as the Troy Savings Hall (Troy, NY), the National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque), and the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles) in addition to performing in major cities across the US. Abroad she has been featured in festivals in Italy, Montenegro, Mexico, Peru, and Poland and has presented at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and Oberlin Conservatory with lectures at the University of Veracruz and Mannes College. She has been a soloist with the Orchestra of Northern New York and has performed with the Albuquerque based professional choir Quintessence. After receiving degrees in Spanish Language and Literature as well as Education, she completed a music degree with Douglas Rubio at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam (where she later taught as a full-time instructor for 4 years) and went on to earn a MM and DMA from the University of Southern California, studying with such luminaries as William Kanengiser, Pepe Romero, and James Smith.
Presently an artist in residence in New Mexico, Lynn is performing extensively as a soloist and is a member of two ensembles: Presti and the Tantalus Guitar Quartet. She is a guitar instructor for Sandia Prep and the University of New Mexico’s Music Prep Program, teaches for Central New Mexico Community College and after 7 years as the Tour Director for the Guitar Foundation of America has transitioned into the role of Director of Regional Symposia. A highly sought after private teacher, her students have received full scholarships to prominent universities, have won national competitions, and have been featured on NPR’s “From the Top”.
Father José María Blanch - composer & piano
José María Blanch was born on December 16th, 1926 in Manresa, Spain. His parents were Miguel Blanch Roig and Josefina Comas Cardús. His father taught music in the municipal school in Manresa and Barcelona and to the Jesuit priests in Manresa, as well as privately in their home. For this reason learning music was a natural process for the young José María. The family home was always filled with their own music, and they even sang their prayers. When José María was nine years old, his father was executed during the Spanish Civil War. It was a tragedy which profoundly influenced his life. He attended school at the “Colegio de Huerfanos” (School for Orphans), where music was an important subject. The teachers were priests, who had to hide their identity to avoid being killed by the Communists. These priests were good, understanding, human beings, who were a major influence in Fr. Blanch’s decision to become a priest. His music teachers were Miguel Moncalb, Juan Gisbert, and his father and mother, among others. His higher education was at the Lateran school in Rome for his priestly formation, and the Academy of St. Cecilia for music. While in Rome he was the organist and director of the choir of Santa Viviana. After being ordained into the Sons of the Holy Family, Father Blanch was assigned to many different places where, besides performing his duties as a priest, he always taught, performed and composed music. He spent fourteen years in Montepulciano, Italy, where he wrote many operettas and zarzuelas that were so popular that the local traffic had to be redirected for the performances. Highly qualified musicians would come from Rome, donating their services just because they liked his music so much. Father Blanch feels very gratified that he was able to direct the formation of many young persons in the schools and seminaries where he taught. He has played the organ and taught music in every parish where he has served, including almost thirty years in New Mexico, mostly in Chimayo and Santa Cruz. Although he is an extremely talented musician, he has always dedicated his life to glorifying God, humbly teaching and inspiring through the Gospel, as well as through his music.
Cecilia Leitner - voice
Cecilia Leitner has performed as a soprano soloist in the United States, Spain, China and Korea with the renowned conductors Helmut Rilling, Simon Carrington, Stephen Layton, Paul Hillier, Stephen Stubbs, and Nicholas McGegan. Her performances include the Oregon Bach Festival, Seattle Academia de Amore, Yale Schola Cantorum, Yale Voxtet, Yale Baroque Opera Project, Magnolia Baroque Festival, Illuminations Festival, and Interpretation of Spanish and Latin American Song. Ms. Leitner received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Yale University, where she studied at the Institute of Sacred Music under the tutelage of James Taylor, Ted Taylor, Judith Malafronte and Simon Carrington. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied voice with Glenn Siebert. Ms. Leitner has taught private lessons to undergraduates at Yale University, as well as students of all other ages. Cecilia is enjoying performing and teaching in the Santa Fe area and is pursuing an international career singing in early music festivals, concerts, recitals, and operas. Her other interests include early Spanish and Latin American music, painting, bodywork for singers, music therapy, and storytelling for children of all ages. Cecilia is a seventeenth generation New Mexican on her mother’s side, and Austrian on her father’s side. She lives in Albuquerque with her two young children and fiance.