MONTEVALLO—The University of Montevallo College of Fine Arts hosted the Luis Benejam Tribute Concert Thursday, Oct. 30, in LeBaron Recital Hall on the UM campus.
The event, which honored Spanish-born orchestral composer Luis Benejam during the year marking the 100th anniversary of his birth, featured UM music faculty members Laurie Middaugh, piano and organ; Lori Ardovino, alto saxophone; and Joe Ardovino, trumpet; as well as special guest artist Marta Valero, mezzo-soprano.
A native of Catalonia, Spain, Valero earned degrees in singing with the highest qualifications and the award of honor from the Catalunya High School of Music (ESMuC). Her performance at the XI Singing Competition of the AOS Association (Opera in Catalonia) resulted in her being awarded a soloist role at La Faràndula Theater of Sabadell (Barcelona, Spain) in “La Cenerontola” opera by G. Rossini. She has participated in many other opera productions for the same theater. Her vocal versatility allows her to include other musical styles, including jazz and folk, in her repertoire. She currently performs in the productions of Barcelona’s Petit Liceu, which consists of singing and stage adaptations of a variety of operas for family and school audiences. Along with pianist Albert Guinovart, she will soon release a new CD in tribute to maestro Luis Benejam’s vocal and piano work.
Benejam moved to the United States in 1959 and performed as a violinist in what was then the Birmingham (Alabama) Symphony Orchestra. He served as a professor of composition at an area university, where he studied to complete his doctorate degree. The last eight years of his life, spent in Birmingham, afforded him a unique opportunity to produce the bulk of his orchestral work. The University of Montevallo was fortunate to have Benejam as a composer-in-residence, and named its music library after Benejam in recognition of his artistic work. His manuscripts are stored there and are an invaluable resource to music history students, who examine primary source materials (both physical manuscripts and digital images) drawn from Montevallo’s collection and learn how to assess these materials like historians: examining the material’s condition, state of completeness, physical dimensions, quality of notation and any clues that might indicate where and when the piece was composed. They go on to investigate a single Benejam composition in greater depth, using this archival material along with secondary sources such as scores, recordings, books and articles.
Benejam’s entire work is published by CLIVIS Publicacions of Barcelona.