Santa Fe Pro Musica ends its self-imposed 18-month hibernation by unveiling new artistic director and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, who is making her first performing appearance in that role. (She serves in the same capacity at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.)
A new executive director, Andrea Cassutt, who comes to the group after five years as executive director of the Santa Fe Youth Symphony, also joins the organization.
The first pair of concerts under their joint leadership features works by Mozart and Beethoven on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
Conductor-pianist Benjamin Hochman opens the program with the overture from Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte, then joins forces with McDermott for his Concerto in E-Flat Major for Two Pianos.
They both bring impeccable credentials to the seldom-heard double concerto. She is recording all the Mozart piano concertos for Bridge Records, with Gramophone opining that the first volume “showcases Anne-Marie McDermott’s tasteful, stylish, and poised approach to this composer.” The New York Times recently praised Hochman’s “stylistic insight, elegance and sparkle of Mr. Hochman’s pianism” on a recording of two Mozart concertos which he conducts, as well as taking the soloist role.
Some commentators have suggested that Mozart wrote the two-piano concerto for his older sister Maria Anna (who was nicknamed Nannerl) and himself as a continuation of the childhood duo act with which they had dazzled Europe. Nannerl was a superb keyboard player (she received top billing on their tours), but she and Wolfgang never performed it together. Nevertheless, he clearly had someone with her skill level in mind since the solo parts are equally demanding and demonstrative.
Pro Musica’s season-opening concert ends with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, clearly programmed for its sense of fist-shaking defiance and triumph. Here’s hoping it can give the coronavirus delta variant a knock in the teeth.
Concert COVID requirements: face masks must be worn by everyone ages 2 and older; patrons age 12 or older must show either proof of full vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID test (either a rapid test taken within 6 hours of event or a PCR test taken within 72 hours). For more information, visit lensic.org.
The performance begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St. Tickets: $25-$90, 505-988-4640, sfpromusica.org