Something To Chatter About

Art Music Organization Handles Work From Baroque To Modern

Robin Babb
7 min read
Something to Chatter About
David Felberg (Courtesy of the artist)
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When was the last time you went to see a live classical music concert? If, like me, your answer is “a really long time ago,” you have some chances to change that this summer.

Chatter is a group of professional musicians that produces and performs regular live classical and chamber music concerts in Albuquerque. The group was founded in 2002 by then violinist and Associate Concertmaster of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra David Felberg and beloved local cellist and composer Eric Walters (who recently died of cancer) as a contemporary chamber music ensemble. In 2008 they began the Church of Beethoven: a weekly live music event each Sunday that started at the Filling Station on Fourth Street, and later moved to The Kosmos, a warehouse performance space. These days, Chatter continues their laid-back Sunday morning shows at the performance space
Las Puertas (1512 First Street NW), where local musicians get together to play a casual set and are joined, most weeks, by a reading from a local poet. They also play several public shows each month at non-traditional venues throughout the city.

This weekend, they’ll be playing two shows at
The Banque Lofts (219 Central NW), a luxury residential building in Downtown that was Burque’s first skyscraper (constructed in 1922), and remains an architectural masterpiece. These events are a great opportunity to hear beautiful music in a beautiful setting as the views of Route 66 and the Sandias are stunning from the Lofts.

Starting on August 4, Chatter will be hosting several free events at the
Albuquerque Museum (2000 Mountain NW)—free, meaning you have less than no excuse not to get out for the evening and hear something different. The theme of these three performances, according to Associate Artistic Director James Shield, is “the West” in broad strokes. Expect to hear modern pieces from American composers, like Death Valley Junction for String Quartet by Missy Mazzioli and Ellis Island by Meredith Monk, as well as a piece from Shields himself, which he describes as being inspired by driving Route 66: “going through the desert, seeing the occasional bloom of cactus and hearing snippets of songs coming through on the radio.”

Chatter concerts are community-oriented and not bourgie affairs in the slightest. Nobody will be wearing a cummerbund or a monocle, and you can actually talk to the musicians. Many of the performers in Chatter are members of more formal orchestras as well and Chatter is their opportunity to play the music they want to play with their neighbors and friends, for their neighbors and friends. It’s the people’s orchestra, if you will.

Whether you went to Juilliard yourself or you don’t know the difference between a violin and a viola, these summer shows from Chatter are great opportunities to see some of your talented community members doing what they do best—as Shields said, “playing the hell out of a difficult and beautiful tune.”

Late Works

This late night show takes place on the eighth floor of The Banque Lofts. A quintet composed of strings, flute and clarinet will be performing works from David Lang and Magnus Lindberg, two very high-energy American composers. There will be a cash bar. Admission is $10.

Eight Stories: Brahms At Sunset With Rooftop Afterparty

Same spot, different set list. The group will be playing Brahms’ Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in B minor op. 115, as well as work from Toru Takemitsu, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Magnus Lindberg. After the show, stick around for a swanky rooftop party. As before, there will be a cash bar. Tickets are $45.

Emanuele Arciuli Plays Glass And Rzewski

At this relaxed Sunday morning show, Emanuele Arciuli will be playing selections by the contemporary American composers Philip Glass and Frederic Rzewski. He will be joined by Chatter’s Artistic Director David Felberg on violin. The poet Rich Boucher will be reading. Tickets are $5-$15.

Arches Free Performance

In this first free show at the Albuquerque Museum, David Felberg, Jesse Tatum, and Shanti Randall will give an hour-long performance on violin, flute and viola, respectively. They’ll be performing Kevin Puts’ Arches, a piece which almost turns the violin into a fiddle at times. They will also be playing pieces from American composers Philip Glass, Andrew Norman, Missy Mazzioli and Elliott Carter. This is a non-ticketed event, but be sure to get there early to get a good seat.

Flutes X2

At this Sunday morning show, flautists Jesse Tatum and Bart Feller will be performing works from classical and contemporary composers including Bach and Toru Takemitsu. The poet Aaron Trumm will be reading. Tickets are $5-$15.

Breathless Free Performance

Chatter players Jesse Tatum, Melissa Peña, James Shields, Nathen Ukens, Alex Onieal and Luke Gulickson will perform at this free concert. They’ll be performing Breathless by the modern minimalist composer David Lang. Two works composed by Burqueños especially for the event will also be featured: Desert Rhodes for Wind Quintet and Rhodes Piano by Luke Gulickson, and One Hot Minute for English Horn, Clarinet, Bassoon and French Horn by Chatter’s own James Shields.

Brahms Sonata And More

Come out to hear Johannes Brahms’ Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op 120 No. 1 as well as a piece by Yehudi Wyner. Judith Gordon will be playing piano. She’ll be joined by James Shields on clarinet, Nathan Ukens on horn and David Felberg on violin. The poet Katrina Guarascio will be reading. Tickets are $5-$15.

Hallelujah Junction Free Performance

James Shields Courtesy of the artist
This event features two incredibly talented guest pianists: Judith Gordon and Conor Hanick. Gordon is the Associate Professor of Music at Smith College in Northampton, while Hanick is a faculty artist at Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and both are frequent Chatter players. They’ll be playing Christian Zeal and Activity for Tape/Ensemble and Hallelujah Junction, two works by the American composer John Adams.

To find out more about Chatter and their upcoming concerts, visit

Something to Chatter About

Judith Gordon

Courtesy Chatter ABQ

Judith Gordon

Chatter ABQ

James Shields

Courtesy of the artist

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