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Concert Crosses Borders : * Trio Neos will present works by U.S., Puerto Rican and Mexican composers in a quake relief benefit for CSUN students.

March 18, 1994|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford writes regularly about music for The Times

For bassoonist Wendy Holdaway, there's some sense to the scheduling of her Trio Neos ensemble as the first classical music con cert sponsored by Cal State Northridge since the Jan. 17 earthquake.

The American-born musician was already living and working in Mexico City when an 8.1-magnitude quake there Sept. 19, 1985--followed by a 7.3 quake a day later--destroyed buildings and killed as many as 10,000 people. "I definitely have sympathy for anyone who has been through a major earthquake," Holdaway said, speaking by phone from the Mexican capital.

Her trio's Saturday performance of contemporary music from both sides of the border will not be on the CSUN campus as originally scheduled, but at Pierce College's Recital Hall in Woodland Hills. (Seismic damage to CSUN structures will keep live music out of the school's Recital Hall for an indefinite period.)

Proceeds from the performance will be directed toward student earthquake relief, said William Toutant, associate dean for the CSUN School of the Arts. "A lot of music students were affected by that quake," he said. "Things are more difficult because there are no practice facilities on campus. Some of them lost their homes or cars."

The concert will be just one stop on a busy tour designed to foster cultural exchange between the United States and Latin America.

Trio Neos will perform chamber music by U.S., Mexican and Puerto Rican composers. "We're doing this to try and cross some of these borders," said Holdaway, 38. "It's such a shame that between Mexico and the United States there exist tremendous cultural frontiers."

When Trio Neos was first established in 1986, the ensemble regularly sampled selections from the broader chamber music repertoire. But it began to find a preoccupation with contemporary Latin American music rewarding.

That was particularly obvious during 1990 and 1991, when Trio Neos toured the United States in tandem with the "Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries" exhibition, which landed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in October, 1991.

"Because of that, there has been a tremendous outpouring of interest," she said. "People weren't even really aware that Mexico had music, or that there was a lot going on down here."

More recently, the group performed an all-Mexican concert at Carnegie Hall in New York and has released two albums of contemporary Mexican and Latin American music.

None of the trio's members are Mexican-born musicians, though all live and perform there now. Clarinetist Eleanor Weingartner, 32, is from San Francisco. And pianist Ana Maria Tradatti, 44, comes from Cordova, Argentina. Like Holdaway, she is a member of Mexico's National Symphony.

Holdaway, who grew up in Oceanside, and attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, first arrived in Mexico in 1982. "I thought I would come down here for a couple of years of experience and leave," she said. "Mexico really gets its hooks into you.

"It's a very vibrant place," she added. "There is so much going on here. In Mexico City alone, there are five full-time orchestras, and the music scene in the United States is pretty grim right now. A lot of orchestras are folding."

Among the works set for the CSUN concert is "Four Characteristic Pieces," composed by Toutant, who first met the members of Trio Neos when they first performed at CSUN in association with the "Splendors of Thirty Centuries" exhibit.

"I was so impressed with them that I offered to write a piece for them," said Toutant, who traveled from Mexico City last May for the premiere of his work. "They are terrific musicians. They are tremendous supporters of contemporary composers. And they put a lot of care into everything they perform."

WHERE AND WHEN

What: Trio Neos at Music Room 3400, Pierce College, Woodland Hills.

Hours: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Price: $6.50 general admission, $3.50 students and seniors.

Call: (818) 885-2488.

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