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Symphony concert features Mambo Kings, pickleball star


The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra (LCSO) will feature some unique elements during its pops concert this weekend in Atkinson Recital Hall in the New Mexico State University Music Building, 1075 N. Horseshoe.

Maestro Lonnie Klein and the orchestra will be joined by the Mambo Kings for the “Hot Latin Nights” concert, 7: 30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16.

Las Cruces’ own nationally ranked pickleball player, Laura Smart, will be guest conductor during one piece of the Saturday-night performance. Smart said she has had three baton lessons from Klein in preparation for her conducting debut.

She won the guest conductor prize during the LCSO’s recent live auction and will conduct Leroy Anderson's "Jazz Pizzicato" during the second half of the Saturday-night concert.

Smart is the USA Pickleball Association ambassador for Las Cruces and was the number-one point earner in the female 65-69 age bracket in pickleball nationally in 2019. Smart played in 20 Super Senior International Pickleball Association tournaments in nine states last year and won 19 medals. She’s also becoming a certified pickleball referee.

The concert will include the music of Astor Piazzolla, Tito Puentes and Dave Brubeck, plus “Pop Strains of the Beatles” and Latin jazz music from Argentina, Cuba, Peru, Puerto Rico and the U.S.

Klein met the Mambo Kings while guest directing the Irving, Texas, Symphony Orchestra. He predicted their Las Cruces concert will be outstanding.

Together since 1995, the Mambo Kings perform “a fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythm and contemporary jazz,” according to their website (www.mambokingdom.com).

Based in upstate New York, the group has performed across the country, including many original compositions and arrangements by pianist and musical director Richard DeLaney.

The band’s other members are percussionist (drums, timbales, bongos) Wilfredo “Freddy” Colón, saxophonist John Viavattine, bassist Hector Diaz and percussionist (congas) Tony Padilla.

The 2019-20 LCSO is Klein’s 21st and last as symphony director and conductor. He will retire in May.

Tickets are $41, $46 and $51, depending on seating.

For tickets and more information, call 575-646-3709 or email admin@lascrucessymphony.com. Visit www.lascrucessymphony.com.


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