Music Magnified: Classical And Art Music

A Season Of Sounds

August March
4 min read
Jennifer Higdon
Composer Jennifer Higdon and Beau the cat (Candace di Carlo)
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I am writing to you about classical and art music in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on a cloudy day with thunder, lightning and rain coming in from the south and west. Mahler’s First Symphony, sometimes referred to as Titan, is playing in the living room. While I type, a pot of Italian gravy simmers on the stove in the kitchen.

Leonard Bernstein is conducting the Vienna Symphony Orchestra from somewhere out of time, and Mahler’s tone poem cum symphonic masterpiece is filling up my home, along with the aroma of garlic and tomato sauce. Later I will dine on spaghetti al dente and garlic bread over Wagner’s
Tristan und Isolde (the Berlin Philharmonic version with Herbert von Karajan conducting).

In the meantime, I will tell you about some really fantastic musical programs coming up in our area. All are excellent chances to see and hear what the music community in this area has to offer, so follow on as I indulge the erudite side of my musical inclinations.

Writing about art music always makes me wonder what’s going on up north. Since it’s summer, the Santa Fe Opera (301 Opera Dr., Santa Fe) is in full swing. I used to go all the time with my old man. But the last time was July 2002. We got to Santa Fe early, ate at Baja Tacos and watched
Men in Black II at the DeVargas Mall before driving up the hill. That year we saw La Clemenza Di Tito, one of Mozart’s minor hits, my father’s choice. Thirteen years later, here are my picks for the season.

This year’s programming choices include airy works reflective of 19th-century comedic tropes. Donizetti’s
Daughter of the Regiment, an example of a sub-genre known as opéra comique, will take the stage on Friday, July 24. A French form that combines spoken dialog with singing, this production features tenor Alek Shrader, playing Tonio, a lovestruck Tyrolean.

Lighthearted 18th-century pop culture gems like Mozart’s
La Finta Giardiniera are part of the season too. A tale of hidden identities, secret longing and abduction, this comedy by Wolfgang Amadeus may be summarized thus: Hijinks ensue. The performance on Saturday, July 25, stars lyric soprano Heidi Stober in the title role.

Though there’s always plenty of Mozart to go around at SFO, the work of Richard Strauss is typically and traditionally taken up each season. This year is no exception.
Salome will be performed on Friday, July 31. Strauss’ opera revealed a musical sea change as the late romantic era gave way to modernism. His work is often dark and intense, filled with complex harmonics and dissonance.

Salome was adapted from Oscar Wilde’s controversial dramatic exposition of the life of a biblical villainess known for her lustful and murderous ways. Bulgarian-born diva Alex Penda rocks the title role with luminous ferocity.

Tickets for SFO performances range widely in price, but begin in the $100 range. They’re available at

On Sunday, July 26, Chatter ABQ presents Echoes from Cold Mountain, an expansive preview of the music associated with composer Jennifer Higdon’s newly commissioned work for the Santa Fe Opera,
Cold Mountain. It’s an operatic adaptation of the Civil War tome by Charles Frazier. The book of the same name is about a confederate soldier who deserts his cause in order to find love and redemption.

Though the complete production will have its world premiere under the stars at SFO on Saturday, Aug. 1, the event at Chatter will provide listeners with the opportunity to hear how Higdon’s compositions reflect the intense emotional culture of American lives and music, past and present.

The concert—only partially described here—features a performance by mezzo Megan Marino, singing an aria from the opera entitled
The Rose. Chatter flautists Peter Ader, Bart Feller, Jesse Tatum and Pat Zuber engage the haunting Steeley Pause, while the Del Sol String Quartet, accompanied by Eastman School graduate and SFO staffer Tatiana Vassilieva, wraps things up grandly with the thematically significant piece SMASH.

Local heroic poet Demetria Martinez begins the proceedings. All of this happens at the Kosmos (1715 Fifth Street NW) at 10:30 in the morning, and admission ranges from $5 to $15, depending on your identity.
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