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A Composer And Two Poets On The Road In New Mexico


In the 1950s, poet Weldon Kees documented a transformative car trip in his poem, "Travels in North America."  Sixty years later, another poet, Ray Gonzalez, summoned the aching ghost of Kees to join him in his own exploratory car trip, "Crossing New Mexico With Weldon Kees."  Now, the inspiration passes to local composer, and UNM graduate student, Luke Gullickson, who created a musical variation on that car trip in "Crossing New Mexico With Weldon Kees and Ray Gonzalez."  The trio for flute, violin and piano premieres on February 24 at Chatter Sunday in Albuquerque.

A sense of the New Mexico landscape and its natural forces informs Gullickson's music just as it does the poems by Kees and Gonzalez.  "I love the sounds of wind in New Mexico.  I remember being out at the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation in the Zuni Mountains and laying in bed and hearing the winds moving in different directions through the trees and thinking that if I could write any music that was half as beautiful as that then it would have been a life well lived."

In addition to playing the piano in his new trio on February 24, Gullickson will perform a piano transcription of Aaron Copland's "Billy The Kid."  In this complete version of the interview, he explains the connection between his work and Copland's.


Spencer Beckwith reports on the arts for KUNM. For ten years, until March of 2014, Spencer was the producer and host of KUNM's "Performance New Mexico," a weekday morning arts program that included interviews with musicians, writers and performers. Spencer is a graduate of the acting program at the Juilliard School, and, before moving to New Mexico in 2002, was for many years a professional actor based in New York City.