Top UA musician plays
at academy on Tuesday
Classical guitarist Misael Barraza-Dias performs Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at Academy Village.
Barraza-Dias just won the 11th Annual Beeston Guitar Competition, sponsored by the Bolton Guitar Studies program at the University of Arizona, and has also won several other prizes this year, including the Sholin Guitar Competition at the UA, the Montreal International Competition and the Indiana University International Guitar Competition.
Born in 1990 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, he began his guitar studies when he was 11 and has been studying Spanish and flamenco guitar ever since.
While at the Universidad de Sonora, and with the support of the local government, he was given the opportunity to study flamenco guitar in Spain, placing third in the Ill Concuros Internacional de Guitara Flamenco Niño Ricardo. Barraza-Dias is completing his classical guitar studies with professor Thomas Patterson, director of the Bolton Guitar Studies Program.
At Tuesday’s recital, Barraza-Dias will perform Spanish works, often with a flamenco flavor, primarily from the 19th and 20th centuries.
He will begin with “Sonata Giocosa” by Joaquin Rodrigo, one of the most prominent Spanish composers for the guitar, best known for his “Concerto de Aranjuez.” He also will play the “Rondo No. 2 in A minor” by Dioniso Aguado, who was inspired by the romantic quality of Beethoven’s sonatas.
In a departure from Spanish composers, Barraza-Dias will perform a transcribed work for the keyboard (k.239) by Italian composer Dominico Scarlatti, who spent most of his life in Spain. The program will conclude with a set of “Variations on a theme (Fernado Sor Op.15)” by Spanish composer Miguel Llobet. These variations are some of the most challenging pieces in classical guitar literature.
Barraza-Dias, with the support of the Bolton Guitar Studies Program and the Tucson Guitar Society, was one of only 15 guitarists accepted for the prestigious master’s program in Alicante, Spain, beginning in January.
Mercury mission revises planet growth theories
Mercury, the tiny planet closest to the sun, is also the least-explored planet. The Messenger spacecraft is the first to orbit Mercury, and has yielded the first return of new spacecraft data from Mercury since the Mariner 10 flyby more than 30 years ago. Surprising new information from the mission may rewrite what scientists believe about the growth of planets.
Findings from the Messenger mission will be discussed in an Arizona Senior Academy lecture beginning at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday by William C. Feldman, one of the world’s leading experts in planetary neutron spectrometry, which has a unique capability to detect the presence of hydrogen atoms, indicating the presence of water.
He provided the design for the neutron spectrometer sensor on the Messenger spacecraft, and he leads the analysis of data from that sensor.
An overarching goal of his research, Feldman says, is to “develop a deep understanding of mechanisms that govern both the similarities and differences between the various terrestrial-like bodies in the solar system.”
According to data gleaned by Messenger, Mercury has a lopsided magnetic field, more sulfur in its rocks than expected, a very thin atmosphere of metal atoms such as calcium and magnesium, and strange “hollows” across its surface that may hint at present-day geologic activity.
The bottoms of craters around the poles are in perpetual shadow, and the data from Messenger showed that these regions are covered with vast amounts of water ice, even though temperatures at the equator can approach the temperature of melting lead.
Feldman earned a B.S. in physics from MIT in 1961 and a doctorate in physics from Stanford University in 1968. He is currently with the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson after a long career at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.