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July 07/31/22, 2022
The Southwest region of North America is full of breathtaking scenery, barren rocks juxtaposed in desert wilderness, great-walled stone canyons, blending cowboy influences with Mexican and Spanish traditions. Renowned pianist/composer Elizabeth Naccarato’s A Southwest Story draws you into this scenic world with her consistently calm, sensitive and well-arranged album of instrumental music with a bright Southwestern flavor. Each composition is a concentrated gem on a topic related to the broad area known as the Southwest.

One might say Elizabeth Naccarato is a romantic. She is known to compose entire albums when a place and its people speak to her soul. Produced by Michael Gettel, an exciting pianist and composer in his own right, the works range from solo piano to contemporary instrumental piano pieces accented by guitar, bass, violin, mandolin, percussion and accordion. Featured performers include Leon Christian (guitar and bass) and Nancy Rumbel (Native flute and English horn). Naccarato composed and arranged the genre-defying album, with the exceptions of "The Spanish Dance No. 2" by Enrique Granados, and "Fandango" by Federico Moreno Torroba.

Early singles "Dusk" and "Sacred Land" convey the stunning pastel sunsets, and the physical beauty of the land between Ute Mountain and Mt. Blanca, which is said to be sacred. Rumbel's Native American flute adds a hauntingly beautiful quality to "Shrine of the Stations of the Cross" an homage to San Luis' spiritual attraction of the same name. People visit from all over the world to seek its solace and to take in the breathtaking views on this trail of bronze sculptures (from 3/4 to life size, representing the 15 stations of the cross), which are positioned along a trail on a mesa in the center of San Luis.

"From whimsical tunes to waltzes to classical covers of Spanish composers to reverent pieces honoring religious traditions of old, and slow dreamy solo piano sequences reflecting on the region’s beauty and the natural elements, A Southwest Story offers a relaxing and uplifting 'auralscape' to a fascinating place," wrote Lissette Cascante, of the Auralscapes music blog and podcast.

Favoring the album's more classical influences, Kathy Parsons (Mainly Piano) wrote “...my favorite piece on the album (“Flower Moon”), Chopin's influence can definitely be heard in the graceful nature of the music. Ahhhh!”

A native Texan, Naccarato began her piano studies at the age of six at the Dominican Convent in Houston. She won her first piano competition at the age of nine and performed and competed in local and statewide events; later, she was a Piano Performance major at the University of Southern California where she earned her degree, and was a three-time winner of the Hollywood Alumni S.A.I Scholarship as well as a highly-coveted Teaching Assistantship in graduate school. She joined the Annie Wright Schools faculty in 1999 and has been an affiliate faculty at The University of Puget Sound since 1989. Much of her instruction is in piano and voice, but she also has directed dozens of regional theater presentations of plays and musicals.

San Luis, Colorado, is a very old town with the Stations of the Cross being one of the main focal points, and the opening track, "San Luis" (4:42) has a nostalgic sweet sad feeling, a familiar sounding traditional song given tender treatment, piano seasoned with guitar and mandolin.

The Spanish reintroduced the horse to the Americas, beginning in the late 15th century, free-roaming herds evolved in North America, struggling with the harsh climate. "Wild Horses" (2:58) has a very Spanish feeling, violin behind the piano with just a hint of percussion, feel the horses glide through the landscape.

To the oldest inhabitants of the Southwestern desert regions, respect for nature comes from a deep connection to the land; to the European way of seeing the world, the land is a commercial resource given by God for men to develop and yield wealth. Both experience the stillness, vastness, and harsh beauty and sense the importance of finding a necessary balance. The piano melody and violin joins and the melody weaves the story of the land, opening a more detailed lamentation of the history of the territory, "Sacred Land" (5:08) reminds us that sacred places strengthen the earth’s biological and cultural diversity, inspiring reverence for land and cultural diversity, and connect nature and culture.

"Mi Hito, No!" (4:12) has a traditional feeling, sad stories are the most compelling. Time to dance the cha cha cha, congas and hand percussion with piano and violin. Next, "Fandango" (1:48) features piano with fancy classical Spanish guitar thrills and sparkles. The Fandango is a lively partner dance originating from Portugal and Spain, two male dancers face each other, dancing and tap-dancing one at a time, showing which has the most lightness and repertoire of feet in motion, swift changes in the tap-dancing, seeing which one of them makes the feet transitions more eye-catching. The word fandango is sometimes also used as a synonym for "a quarrel", "a big fuss", or "a brilliant exploit."

Now for a romantic instrumental tale, "Brown Eyes" (4:12), a drum set with cymbals, accordion, castanets and glockenspiel joins the piano, celebrating the calm patience enduring the metallic brightness of a hot sun. "Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados" (5:25) is a slow dance with lots of colorful fabrics, sad and rich with a quiet feeling, gentle as a breeze of spring. The hot, soft wind of the desert kisses our faces, all around the horizon bare volcanic peaks burn into the blue. Sometimes a whirlwind of dust travels rapidly over the plain, making one ponder what would happen should it gyrate into the vachtoe. "La Sierra" (4:38) is an ode to the mountains in the distance and forever, a range of mountains especially with a serrated or irregular outline. The sound is quiet and full, along with the piano, chimes shiver in a breeze.

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images and sculptures depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. There is a famous Stations of the Cross Shrine located in Colorado's oldest town, San Luis, Colorado. Huberto Maestas was the sculptor for all of the statues. "Shrine of the Stations of the Cross" (3:33) is a sacred story, featuring piano and flute.

Vega is the brightest star in the northern constellation of Lyra, and lies at a vertex of a widely spaced asterism called the Summer Triangle, which consists of Vega plus the two first-magnitude stars Altair, in Aquila, and Deneb in Cygnus. "The Vega" (4:31) is a piano solo with a deliciously lighter sensation, invoking the Southwest's beautiful skies.

The sun is setting with all its melancholy splendor, "Dusk" (4:08) is a tribute to the end of the day, and the beginning of the night, piano and guitar are joined by a violin as the light becomes a rainbow magnified even beyond dreams, a thing not transparent and ethereal, but solidified, a work of ages, sweeping up majestically from the red walls, its iris-hued arch against the blue sky.

The single “Dusk” https://elizabethnaccarato.hearnow.com/dusk

The cowboy has deep historical roots tracing back to Spain and the earliest European settlers of the Americas. A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The "cowboy code" of Gene Autry encouraged honorable behavior, mutual respect and patriotism. Dance was an important social activity in the Old West and the level of social skill was generally high. Men and women take turns sharing the pulse of the dance, couples moving in a circular motion across the floor. The track "Cowboy's Waltz" (3:30) features a full dancehall feeling with hand percussion, high hat and accordian.

"Flower Moon" (3:36) is a piano solo that closes A Southwest Story, a lovely portrait of the full moon in May. The Flower Moon is named after the abundant flowers that grow in the spring. Native Americans called it the Budding Moon, Egg Laying Moon, and Planting Moon. The Celtic and Old English names are Mothers’ Moon, Bright Moon, Hare Moon, and Grass Moon.

The Southwest is the hottest and driest region in the United States, where the availability of water has defined its landscapes and history of human settlement. The Southwest landscape is a dry climate with sparse grass, thus large herds of cattle requiring vast amounts of land to obtain sufficient forage gave rise to the development of the horseback-mounted vaquero traditions of northern Mexico. It is a strange land, a desert overgrown with strange soft-tinted weeds, “salt weeds,” pink, red, green, gray, blue, purple; the rich-green yellow-flowering greasewood; odd cacti, and all manner of thorn bearing bushes, haunted by its loneliness and silence and beauty. It appears endless, a strange world of colossal shafts and buttes of rock, magnificently sculptured, standing isolated and aloof, dark, weird, and lonely.

Therein lies the joy, sweet and also vague, the secret of the wonderful sensations of strange familiarity with wild places. The origins of the cowboy tradition come from Spain, beginning with the hacienda system of medieval Spain. These hearty pioneers of the Southwest interacted with and relied on an unfamiliar environment, utilizing storytelling in order to pass on memory, spark imagination, and make sense of their relationship to this harsh earth.

A native Texan, Elizabeth began her piano studies at the age of six at the Dominican Convent in Houston. She won her first piano competition at the age of nine and performed and competed in local and statewide events. Elizabeth was a Piano Performance major at the University of Southern California where she earned her degree, and was a three-time winner of the Hollywood Alumni S.A.I Scholarship as well as a highly-coveted Teaching Assistantship in graduate school. She joined the Annie Wright Schools faculty in 1999 and has been an affiliate faculty at The University of Puget Sound since 1989. Much of her instruction is in piano and voice, but she also has directed dozens of regional theater presentations of plays and musicals. Elizabeth Naccarato’s previous recordings are Jarrell’s Cove (inspired by the coastline of Puget Sound near Seattle and produced by pianist Michael Gettel), North Sycamore (named for a street in West Los Angeles where she spent an early stage of her career, with special guests oboist Nancy Rumbel and saxophonist Richard Warner), Stone Cottage (inspired by a special residence with a wild garden), One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel), History (combining some of her best work with both new and live performances), Souvenir d’Italia which was inspired by one of her favorite places, and now A Southwest Story, a tribute to the Southwestern part of the United States of America.

This newest album enhances the vision of the growing collection of exquisite piano interpretations of various aspects of specific locations and contexts, as well as life itself. Elizabeth Naccarato has achieved a noteworthy translation of the spirit of the land, its cultural history and the flavors and elemental aspects. Each note fits into a magnificent audio portrait of the Southwest, from the environment to how it feels to be there, a hot sun, spirits in the canyons, the languages and religious iconography are included in the melodies and musical forms.

Previous recordings by Naccarato include Jarrell’s Cove, North Sycamore, Stone Cottage, One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel), History, and Souvenir d’Italia, all available through her official website and Amazon.com.

Naccarato is preparing to announce upcoming live performances for this Fall 2022; watch her website and social media for the cities, dates and ticket links.

Music fans can link to buy or stream A Southwest Story from their favorite platform here: https://elizabethnaccarato.hearnow.com/a-southwest-story

Tracklist:
1 San Luis (4:42)
2 Wild Horses (2:58)
3 Sacred Land (5:08)
4 Mi Hito, No! (4:12)
5 Fandango (1:48)
6 Brown Eyes (4:12)
7 Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados (5:25)
8 La Sierra (4:38)
9 Shrine of the Stations of the Cross (3:33)
10 The Vega (4:31)
11 Dusk (4:08)
12 Cowboy's Waltz (3:30)
13 Flower Moon (3:36)

Links:
WEBSITE: http://elizabethnaccarato.com/
SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0REXjQLt79Pi2YZO31goUl?autoplay=true
YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/c/Naccaratonetwork/videos
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Naccarato/e/B000APAEXS
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethnaccaratopianist
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/elizabethgettel/
APPLE: https://music.apple.com/us/album/a-southwest-story/1632306586