First, a very big bravo to the resourceful leaders, resilient staff members, and generous donors of Santa Fe’s musical organizations. They’ve made it to this semi-optimistic moment in surprisingly good shape. Big questions remain regarding not just the trajectory and impact of coronavirus variant strains, but also around the effects of the shift to online programming. Will it become a necessary but supplemental activity, or will it significantly reduce in-person attendance in the future? This could become a very tricky balancing act, since producing virtual content adds a thick layer of cost, and the income from it is much less than the per-person revenue from live performance.
Meanwhile, there’s much to look forward to in the 2021-2022 season, especially if all the current plans become reality. There’s lots of Beethoven to enjoy, especially in the fall. Some of it is the holdover of truncated plans to celebrate his 250th birth anniversary in 2020, and some has been programmed for its triumph-over-adversity spirit. In any case, Ludwig lovers should be very happy.
There’s plenty of Mozart and Haydn, which is never bad news, and, on the new music front, several intriguing commissions and premieres. What’s missing? Major works from the late Romantic-era and early 20th century are few and far between. This isn’t new, and it’s a serious vacuum in the local music scene.
On the administrative side, it’s déjà vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra, the greatest American philosopher ever to play professional baseball. Two years ago in this space, we welcomed incoming leaders for the Santa Fe Symphony and Performance Santa Fe, and we do so again today. Emma Scherer, whose background includes a stint at the Santa Fe Opera, is replacing Daniel Crupi as the Santa Fe Symphony’s executive director, and Amy Iwano, executive director of the University of Chicago Presents, takes over from Chad Hilligus as head of Performance Santa Fe.
In addition, Santa Fe Pro Musica has plucked Andrea Cassutt from the Santa Fe Youth Symphony to serve as its new executive director, partnering with recently appointed artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott. Gender equity in leadership positions at our music organizations has taken some long-overdue steps forward.
It will also be a season of anniversary celebrations. The Los Alamos Concert Association turns 75 (it’s the second-oldest music group in the area, after Performance Santa Fe), Pro Musica and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale both turn 40, and the New Mexico Philharmonic hits double digits with its 10th anniversary.
Here’s Pasatiempo’s survey of what’s in store for music lovers this performance year (fingers crossed). Consult each group’s website for complete details and up-to-the-minute news, including coronavirus-related attendance requirements.
Want to know more about holiday events? The Nov. 19 issue of Pasatiempo will include a full guide of what’s out there to help you ring out the old and usher in the new.
Multiple venues, chatterabq.org
The indispensable chamber music group Chatter performs one Saturday a month at SITE Santa Fe. The hour-long programs include a short, spoken-word segment by local poets and authors in addition to the featured music. Specific information about each concert is posted on its website six to eight weeks in advance of the performance date. The group specializes in contemporary music, but the repertory also reaches back as far as the Baroque era, which ran from circa 1600 to circa 1750.
TAKE NOTE: Thirteen Rounds, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta, $16, with discounts for students and those under age 30.
Performed by guitarist Elliot Simpson and harpsichordist Kathleen McIntosh, this world premiere by composer Lei Liang is a reflection on the life of Sarah Winchester, widow of firearms tycoon William Winchester and heir to his immense fortune. She spent much of it building an enormous mansion with about 160 rooms in San Jose, California, apparently believing it could house the ghosts of all those killed by Winchester rifles, thus expiating her guilt over their deaths. (It’s now known as the Winchester Mystery House and is a celebrated tourist attraction.) Sarah was obsessed by the number 13: the house has 13 bathrooms, her will had 13 parts, and she signed it 13 times, hence the piece’s title.
LENSIC PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
211 W. San Francisco St., 505-988-1234, lensic.org
Most events at the Lensic Performing Arts Center are produced by groups that rent the venue, but the organization helps fill out the performance calendar with its own Lensic Presents events. The fall slate features theater, including Potted Potter, a two-person, 70-minute traversal of the seven Harry Potter novels, complete with Quidditch match, on Oct. 26; dance, with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company on Nov. 11; and stand-up comedy, with former Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers on Dec. 21. There’s also a staged reading of Manahatta, a play by Native author Mary Kathryn Nagle that traces how the commercial exploitation and cultural eradication that started when Peter Minuit “purchased” Manahatta Island continues today. It’s a co-presentation with and fundraiser for Silver Bullet Productions, taking place on Oct. 9.
TAKE NOTE: Branford Marsalis Quartet, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1, $39-$75
Part of the musical dynasty from Louisiana, saxophonist Branford Marsalis is a three-time Grammy Award winner, National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, and Tony Award nominee. He’s led his eponymous quartet since 1986. Its most recent album is 2019’s The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, which “succeeds in its relentless pursuit of musical sophistication, cohesiveness and inclusiveness,” wrote Downbeat magazine. “Clearly, these long-loyal bandmates have reached a new plateau together.”
LOS ALAMOS CONCERT ASSOCIATION
Duane W. Smith Auditorium, Los Alamos High School, 1300 Diamond Dr., 505-662-9000, losalamosconcert.org
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, a subset of the celebrated chamber orchestra, offers music by Henry Purcell, Jean Françaix, and Franz Schubert in an Oct. 26 concert. The brawny lads of Scotland’s young Maxwell Quartet will play string quartets from the classical repertory followed by a set of Scottish folk songs on Jan. 14; and on Feb. 11 the Poulenc Trio performs works for the unusual combination of oboe, bassoon, and piano.
TAKE NOTE: Cuarteto Latinoamericano with oboist Thomas Gallant, 4 p.m. Sept. 19, $35 in advance, tickets for ages 6-18 are free.
The concert association launches its 75th season with a program consisting of Mozart’s Oboe Quartet, Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 (Death and the Maiden), and two pieces by Astor Piazzolla, Oblivion, a tango for chamber ensemble, and his Suite for Oboe and String Orchestra.
NEW MEXICO PERFORMING ARTS SOCIETY
Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, 50 Mount Carmel Road, 505-474-4513, nmpas.org
This group’s wide-ranging programming features New Mexico-based artists in an intimate venue, with an emphasis on Baroque and vocal music. Its upcoming season includes a winter solstice concert with works by Bach, Carlo Gesualdo, and Giovanni Palestrina (Nov. 27); recitals by soprano Cecilia Violetta López (Dec. 10) and tenor Gregory Gallagher (May 7); an all-Bach program with the group’s vocal soloists, chorus, and instrumentalists (April 3); and an opera highlights evening (June 25).
Take Note: Zarzuela at The Plaza Hotel Ballroom, 7 p.m. Oct. 29, The Plaza Hotel, 230 Plaza St., Las Vegas, $25, tickets only from the New Mexico Highlands University Music Department, 505-454-3359.
This is a rare opportunity to sample highlights from the Spanish operetta tradition that flourished during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
NEW MEXICO PHILHARMONIC
Multiple venues, 505-323-4343, nmphil.org
The New Mexico Philharmonic celebrates its 10th anniversary with 10 evening concerts at Popejoy Hall on the University of New Mexico campus, along with six Afternoon Classics programs at Albuquerque’s Immanuel Presbyterian Church. The Popejoy series offers the rare opportunity to hear one of Dmitri Shostakovich’s most powerful symphonies, No. 10 in E minor, on Feb. 26. It premiered in 1953, shortly after Stalin’s death, and has been described by one commentator as “48 minutes of tragedy, despair, terror, and violence and two minutes of triumph.” The 48 minutes are a musical depiction of Stalin’s harsh rule and the two minutes a celebration of the Russian peoples’ will to outlast him. Pianist Michelle Cann is featured on the April 23 program, which includes the 1934 Piano Concerto in One Movement by Black composer Florence Price, whose exceptional works are just now being rediscovered.
TAKE NOTE: Beethoven Piano Concertos, 8 p.m. Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 6 p.m. Oct. 2, Popejoy Hall, 203 Cornell Drive NE, Albuquerque, $35-$90.
Why settle for one Beethoven piano concerto when you can have all five? Over three consecutive evenings, Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winner Olga Kern performs them in chronological sequence with the philharmonic. The first and second are performed on Sept. 30, along with the Egmont Overture, while the third and fourth, plus the Fidelio Overture, follow on Oct. 1. The final evening goes from the close-to-ridiculous — Beethoven’s bombastic Wellington’s Victory — to the sublime fifth piano concerto, the so-called Emperor.
Multiple venues, 505-243-0591, operasouthwest.org
Opera Southwest may be middle-aged — this is its 49th year — but it has much more artistic spring in its step these days than it did during most of its youth, when it focused on the standard repertory. There’s only one meat-and-potatoes piece in its upcoming season, Verdi’s La Traviata, on Oct. 24, 27, 29, and 31. February brings four performances of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s Frida, one of the most frequently staged of contemporary operas since its 1991 premiere. Sung in English and Spanish, it chronicles the often-stormy relationship between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Claude Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande isn’t exactly a rarity, but it is when it comes to New Mexico. The most recent professional staging, by the Santa Fe Opera, dates from 1977. Your chance to catch it is on March 20, 25, and 27. All three operas are staged at Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. SW. Tickets are $21-$103, $15 for those under age 30.
TAKE NOTE: The Silken Ladder, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Sept. 10-12, Albuquerque Museum, 2000 Mountain Road NW, $35 general admission, operasouthwest.org.
This Rossini comedy launches the season with a 90-minute, open-air performance at the museum’s amphitheater. See the story at pasatiempomagazine.com.
PERFORMANCE SANTA FE
Multiple venues, 505-984-8759, performancesantafe.org
Santa Fe’s largest presenting organization (one that books touring attractions, rather than creating its own artistic product) offers performances in the widest variety of genres — dance, theater, chamber music, jazz, and, at least this season, cabaret. The most noteworthy single event is the Martha Graham Dance Company’s 75th anniversary tour of Appalachian Spring. It’s a co-presentation with the Santa Fe Symphony, which is providing the musicians for Aaron Copland’s original 13-piece orchestration. Performances are on March 4 and 5 at the Lensic. Earlier in the season, pianist Yefim Bronfman offers an all-Beethoven recital on Oct. 22 and jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant performs on Feb. 8. Subversive cabaret artist Meow Meow makes her Santa Fe debut on March 24. On April 3, MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient Rhiannon Giddens and the Nashville Ballet perform Lucy Negro Redux, based on the book by Caroline Randall Williams and boasting a score by roots-music master Giddens.
TAKE NOTE: Jerusalem Quartet with Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2, Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., $35-$115.
Now in the fifth decade of an exceptional career, Zukerman plays violin and viola (not simultaneously) in a program of string sextets by Antonín Dvořák and Johannes Brahms.
SANTA FE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL
Multiple venues, 505-982-1890, santafechambermusic.com
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival doesn’t offer any performances outside its summer season, although the staff is busy during the remaining months with several education programs for local students and planning for future years. The group’s 2022 festival will run from July 17 through August 22, and detailed information will be available on its website soon. Highlights include violinist Soovin Kim, cellist Paul Watkins, and pianist Gloria Chien performing all seven of Beethoven’s piano trios; the New Mexico premiere of a piano quintet by Artistic Director Marc Neikrug, performed by Haochen Zhang and the Dover Quartet; and the festival debut of highly regarded mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron in a recital with pianist Julius Drake. World premieres are also in the works, with festival commissions from three distinguished later-career composers, Kaija Saariaho, Shulamit Ran, and Detlev Glanert, along with works from participants in the Young Composers String Quartet Project.
SANTA FE DESERT CHORALE
Multiple venues, 505-988–2282, desertchorale.org
The Desert Chorale celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022 with 11 performances of three programs during July and August. The season’s theme is “new vistas,” and it includes a new work commissioned from Jocelyn Hagen, a bilingual piece reflecting on New Mexico’s cultural heritage. Repertory specifics, performance dates, and ticket prices for the summer season will be announced in January.
TAKE NOTE: Nochebuena, 8 p.m. Dec. 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21, 4 p.m. Dec. 19, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, 131 Cathedral Place; 8 p.m. Dec. 11, 14 and 15, Cristo Rey Catholic Church, 1120 Canyon Road. Tickets are $22 to $100, with student discounts available, and they go on sale Sept. 22.
The chorale’s annual holiday event features new works and traditional holiday carols from South, Central, and North America, performed in two of Santa Fe’s iconic churches. The literal meaning of nochebuena is “the good night,” and it refers to Christmas Eve. (In Mexico, the poinsettia is called the “flor de Nochebuena” or Christmas Eve flower.)
SANTA FE OPERA
Multiple venues, 505-986-5900, santafeopera.org
After a reduced-scope season this year, the Santa Fe Opera plans to return to its standard format of five operas in 2022, all of them in new productions. Complete details won’t be announced until late October or early November, but Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff is a certainty. (It’s a shared staging with Scottish Opera. It just premiered in the 2021 Edinburgh International Festival to positive reviews.) Some, but not all, of the remaining repertory will come from productions planned for the 2020 season that had to be cancelled. The candidates for inclusion are The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, Rusalka, Tristan und Isolde, and the world premiere of an operatic version of M. Butterfly. The company also hopes to revive its program of performance screenings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque parks, and of radio broadcasts on KHFM, both of which premiered this year.
TAKE NOTE: Hometown to the World, the second installment of SFO’s Opera for All Voices project, is currently scheduled for production Dec. 10-12 at the Santa Fe Convention Center. Performance times and ticket prices have yet to be announced. The opera’s subject is the devastating impact of the nation’s largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid, in Postville, Iowa, which resulted in half the town’s population being deported or fleeing. The composer is Laura Kaminsky, whose chamber opera As One has become one of the most frequently staged new works of the 21st century.
SANTA FE PRO MUSICA
Multiple venues, 505-988-4640, sfpromusica.org
Santa Fe Pro Musica is emerging from an 18-month self-described hibernation with five pairs of orchestral concerts, five performances by visiting string quartets, and its traditional Baroque Christmas and springtime Holy Week concerts at Loretto Chapel. Anne-Marie McDermott, the group’s high-profile new artistic director, performs on two of the orchestral programs and with two of the visiting quartets. She launches her tenure on Sept. 25 and 26, playing Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat Major for Two Pianos, K. 365, along with conductor-pianist Benjamin Hochman, who also leads the orchestra in the overture from Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. With any luck, Pro Musica will finally be able to perform The Creation, Haydn’s twice-cancelled and ever-magnificent oratorio, on April 30 and May 1, led by group co-founder and Conductor Laureate Thomas O’Connor.
TAKE NOTE: Dover Quartet with Anne-Marie McDermott, 3 p.m. Oct. 17, St. Francis Auditorium, 107 W. Palace Ave., $20-$85, with student discounts available.
Composer Chris Rogerson’s piano quintet Dream Sequence receives its world premiere; Rogerson was described by The New York Times in 2015 as possessing “a confident new musical voice.” The program also includes the Lyric Quartette by William Grant Still, who was known as “The Dean of African-American Composers” during his lifetime, and Felix Mendelssohn’s joyful Quartet in D major, Op. 44, No. 1.
SANTA FE SYMPHONY
Multiple venues, 505-983-1414, santafesymphony.org
The Santa Fe Symphony’s notable concerts this season include the premiere of a co-commissioned piece, Vivian Fung’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, played by Mary Elizabeth Bowden at a Jan. 16 concert that also includes music by Haydn, Mozart, and Mikhail Glinka, and a Feb. 13 program that features two contemporary works, Jennifer Higdon’s otherworldly blue cathedral and Christopher Rouse’s virtuosic Flute Concerto, plus Antonín Dvoˇrák’s short and sunny Symphony No. 8. On April 28, the symphony and its chorus will recreate a historic Santa Fe event — a July 1960 performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi that was conducted by the composer. The program also included Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 and Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat major, for four soloists (violin, cello, oboe, and bassoon) and orchestra; both will be included in the concert re-creation.
TAKE NOTE: Season Opener, 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., $22-$80, 505-983-1414, santafesymphony.org.
The symphony’s return to live performance begins with a celebratory brass fanfare, continues with two works featuring the string section, and ends with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, “a colossal masterpiece of instrumentation,” as Tchaikovsky called it, for the entire orchestra. See the story at pasatiempomagazine.com.
TAOS CHAMBER MUSIC GROUP
Multiple venues, 575-770-1167, taoschambermusicgroup.org
The Taos Chamber Music Group is proceeding more cautiously than most, announcing a fall-only schedule of no-intermission performances that will be about an hour long. Taos-based pianist Kim Bakkum opens the season on Sept. 26 with music by Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc, Frédéric Chopin, and Domenico Scarlatti. The American String Quartet visits for a two-concert residency, with two Beethoven quartets on tap for Oct. 29 and works by Mozart, Brahms, Dmitri Shostakovich, and George Walker on Oct. 30.
TAKE NOTE: Holiday Concert with Gleb Ivanov, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12, Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St., $25 ($12 for those 16 and under).
Taos is a delightful spot during the holidays, so why not round off a day of shopping with an hour of music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Melanie Bonis, and Sergei Prokofiev. Guest pianist Ivanov is joined by Taos Chamber Music Group regulars L.P. How, violin; Sally Guenther, cello; and Nancy Laupheimer, flute. ◀