Zaira Meneses, Mexico’s “First Lady of the classical guitar” (Diario de Xalapa) is a cutting edge 21st century artist celebrated on the concert stage, in the international press and on the web as “Mexico’s cultural ambassador on the international circuit.”
Praised by the New York Times as “an arresting performer full of colorful touches” , Meneses has built a stellar reputation for her warm sound, limpid technique and superb natural musicality. She has performed in many of the great concert halls of the world including New York City’s Alice Tully and YMHA halls, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Salzburg’s Wiener Saal, and the Great Hall of the Shanghai Conservatory. At the same time her many initiatives to bring art music into new venues and to new audiences have been celebrated on the web through her ever popular Newsletter and numerous other internet outlets.
Ms. Meneses’s debut CD “Latina”, produced independently, sold out almost immediately and lead to a three CD contract with Centaur Records. The first CD in this series, scheduled for release in spring of 2016, is devoted exclusively to the music of J. S. Bach and features Meneses’s own transcriptions of the Prelude Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998, and themonumental D minor Partita No. 2, BWV 1004 (originally for solo violin).
Ms. Meneses is also active in the field of contemporary music. Works dedicated to her include the exquisite “Berceuse” for flute and guitar by the eminent American composer, Robert Beaser (premiered at Boston Guitar Fest in June, 2014) and an upcoming concerto for guitar and orchestra entitled “Ella”, by award winning composer Stephanie Ann Boyd, to be premiered at Boston Guitar Fest in 2016.
Zaira Meneses first performed as soloist with orchestra at the age of 12 in Vivaldi’s Concerto in D major. At the age of 17 she was top prize winner at the prestigious guitar competition in the legendary guitar mecca of Paracho, Michoacan, which led to performances of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez in major venues throughout Mexico. In 2014 she returned to Xalapa as the first female soloist in the long history of the legendary OSX (Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa) in a concert broadcast live on Mexican television.
During her teenage years Ms. Meneses was the youngest founding member of the famed Orquesta de Guitarras directed by Maestro Alfonso Moreno and toured internationally for some years with this ensemble. She continues to perform in chamber music combinations in major venues including the Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy (where she received a special award for her collaboration with flamenco virtuoso, Grisha Goryachev), the New York International Flute Convention (with flutist Viviana Guzman) and the Orcas Island Festival (with eminent pianist, Jon Kimura Parker).
She also performs in recital and with orchestra on four continents with her husband, virtuoso guitarist, Eliot Fisk, including appearances at Alice Tally Hall and 92nd YHMA street in N.Y.C.; the Xalapa Symphony and the Austria Philharmonic. In 2014 the Fisk Family performed at a gala benefit for the prestigious Bethlehem Bach Festival following this up with a tour in major cities in China where Ms. Meneses and Mr. Fisk were joined on stage by their pianist daughter, Raquel Fisk, who was 13 at the time.
Zaira Meneses was born in Xalapa, Veracruz (Mexico). From an early age she showed great talent for music, studying both classical guitar and voice and appearing frequently in a wide variety of venues both as a guitarist and singer. Her first solo guitar recital at the age of 12 included works by Mexican composers Manuel M Ponce, Julio Cesar Oliva, Ernesto Garcia de Leon and Brazil’s Heitor Villa-Lobos. By the age of 15 Zaira Meneses was already teaching guitar and music history at the famous Universidad Veracruzana”, one of the most important universities in Mexico. She also received an important award from the Mexican foundation, FONCA, for her pioneering series of outreach concerts and music workshops in orphanages throughout the the State of Veracruz .
In addition to her performing career Zaira Meneses is a successful entrepreneur for the arts. She was engaged for some years by Syracuse University’s “Say Yes” program, training teachers in the techniques of arts outreach and bringing music into unusual venues. Supported by a generous grant from the Albert Augustine Foundation she is also founder and director of the Guitar & Friends Concert Series in Boston where she has directed a series of outreach concerts that bring art music to under-served areas. Ms. Meneses used a portion of her budget to pay modest fees to students who often joined her in these unconventional venues.
Meneses is also Director of Outreach at Boston Guitar Fest where each year she forges new connections between the Festival and the community. She has also been an active and successful fundraiser for the Festival, which in 2016 will celebrate its 11th consecutive year as a meeting place for music lovers and guitar enthusiasts from all over the world.
Zaira Meneses is the creator of the popular “Z Newsletter”, which starting in December 2015 will be transformed a new online bilingual music & life style feature entitled “ZGuitar Magazine”. Meneses is also a passionate and sought after teacher. She directs the Guitar Performance Seminar for classical guitar majors at the New England Conservatory and also teaches younger students through the NEC Preparatory School and Walnut Hill School for the Arts.
She lives in Newton, Mass. with her husband, Eliot Fisk, and the couple’s 14 year daughter,Raquel.