World-Acclaimed Organist Opens New Laredo Distinguished Concert Series Feb. 6

Ann Elise Smoot (photo), a highly acclaimed organist, will travel to Laredo from England to present a concert Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in Christ Church Episcopal, located on 2320 Lane St.

The event is free of charge and the public is invited to attend.

Smoot's concert, which includes a presentation of the entire "Goldberg Variations" of Johann Sebastian Bach's composition, will serve to officially launch the Laredo Distinguished Concert Series.

The Series is the result of a partnership between Texas A&M International University, Laredo Community College, United Independent School District, Laredo Independent School District and various community organizations, including Christ Church Episcopal.

Its purpose is to promote the presentation of music solo performances to students and the public at no cost. The Series will consist of a total of five concerts per year, including some performances featuring soloists chosen from the faculty of each educational institution.

Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU president, said the University is proud to partner with educational institutions and the community to bring quality music to Laredo.

"As you know, this concert will feature both faculty talent at each of the participating institutions and well-known artists from around the world," Dr. Keck said, "This opportunity to hear quality music right here at home will give aspiring music students an idea of what they should be aiming for and the community a clear picture of the talent that exists in the local educational institutions. I encourage everyone to attend our first concert featuring Ms. Smoot and enjoy an evening of classical music."

Dr. Gilberto Soto, associate professor of music and chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at TAMIU, said students from TAMIU and the partnering educational institutions will gain valuable knowledge by attending the Series.

"This Series was developed, together with our partners, with the students and the community in mind and as our fine and performing arts program here at TAMIU continues to grow, we want students to realize what a gifted group of professors they can learn from," Dr. Soto said.

Danuta Gazdyszyn, chair of the Music and Dance Department at LCC, said LCC is proud to be part of a union in the performing arts that will culturally enhance community life.

"By pooling our resources with our partners, we will be able to foster greater opportunities that will enrich lives through the beauty of music and dance," she said, "This partnership will have a tremendous impact in the lives of students attending LCC, our partner schools and the community. We hope that our goal to showcase renowned artists from around the country and the world will foster a greater appreciation for the arts in the community."

Ernesto Guajardo, coordinator of the Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts at LISD, said LISD is excited to be a part of this partnership.

"We have talented students in our district because they learn from highly skilled and trained professionals," Guajardo said, "This concert series will exhibit the fine teachers we have working with our schools to the Laredo community."

Javier Vera, director of Fine Arts at UISD, said the Laredo distinguished Concert Series will enrich the arts in Laredo by providing an excellent opportunity for the general pubic and music lovers to listen to talented musicians perform a wide variety of musical selections.

"When Dr. Gilberto Soto informed me UISD would be a partner school district with LCC, TAMIU, and LISD to promote this concert series, I was thrilled. This opportunity to join forces with our educational partners in promoting the arts in Laredo is something I look forward to now and for years to come," he said, "UISD students will benefit from this concert series in that they will have the opportunity to hear professional musicians that live, work and teach in Laredo."

Aside from the Goldberg Variations, Smoot will play compositions by Antonio Vivaldi, John Stanley, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Georg Muffat and Felix Mendelssohn.

Smoot began her musical education in her native Philadelphia, continuing her studies at Yale University, where she obtained two honors degrees (bachelor of arts and master of music). She won several academic and musical prizes, including a fellowship that took her to England to study at the Royal Academy of Music.

Her international career was launched by her success in two major competitions: St. Albans in 1997 and the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists competition in 1998. She now performs regularly throughout the United States and Europe, with a repertoire that ranges from the 14th century to the present day.

She has played in many of England's major venues, including St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. Her debut CD, featuring the music of Vierne, Bairstow, Karg-Elert and Stanford, was issued by JAV recordings in June 2000, to much critical acclaim.

For further information about the Ann Elise Smoot Concert or the Laredo Distinguished Concert Series, please contact TAMIU's Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at 326-2180, e-mail or visit offices located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.

University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at