Spencer Beckwith On The Arts

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A disillusioned soldier in the Civil War deserts from the Confederate army and journeys home on foot to the mountains of North Carolina.  A new opera based on Charles Frazier's 1997 bestseller Cold Mountain  is having its world premiere this month at the Santa Fe Opera.  

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The "Santa Fe Style" was a compromise.  Developed in the second decade of the 20th Century, immediately after New Mexico became a state, it was a way for the city to "look American" while at the same time retaining its distinctive architectural elements.  Architectural Historian David Rasch of the City of Santa Fe's Historic Preservation Division explains why a debate continues to this day over what exactly defines the Santa Fe Style.  This summer, in collaboration with the non-profit organization Friends of Architecture

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On a trip to the United States in the 1970s, French composer Olivier Messiaen fell in love with Bryce Canyon.  Hiking into the red rock, listening to the Canyon's native birdsong and then looking up into the blue Utah skies inspired Messiaen to write a grand orchestral work, "Des canyons aux étoiles . .

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Night at the Fiestas, published this spring by W.W. Norton, brings together ten short stories by New Mexico native Kirstin Valdez Quade, who last year was named one of the five most promising writers under 35 by the National Book Foundation.  The stories appeared earlier in various national publications, including The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories 2013 and The O.

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He has spent his life photographing the people and landmarks of his native Northern New Mexico,  documenting the festivals, rituals and pastimes of the area's Indo-Hispano culture.  Miguel Gandert's photographs and films will be part of the multimedia installation "Memory + Emergence," a collaboration with poet Levi Romero and artists Tim

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UNM dance professor Eva Encinias Sandoval has spent her life with flamenco.  Its fierce energy, she says, is the "cultural expression of a people who had no voice" -- the persecuted gypsies, or Romani people, of Spain.  Eva and her Albuquerque-based organization, the National Institute of Flamenco, have been working for almost 30 years to promote an art form that's largely unknown to American audiences.  For seven days in June, celebrated dancers, singers and musicians from Madrid and Andal

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He was barely 30 years old, and virtually unknown in the music world, when he succeeded in 1957 with an audacious idea:  creating an opera company on a hilltop in an out-of-the-way location in the Southwest.  John Crosby carefully guided The Santa Fe Opera for the next 45 years.  Writer and critic Craig Smith, author of "A Vision of Voices: John Crosby and The Santa Fe Opera," the founder's first full-length biography just published by

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Months of creative collaboration between local artists and the elderly culminate in a musical performance, "Dancing By Moonlight," on May 9th at the Lensic Center in Santa Fe.  Since 2007, the Lifesongs program has been working with patients in local care centers and hospices to document the voices of our elders and their insights gained at the end of life.  Originally created as an outreach program of the Santa Fe Ope

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Every spring, the City of Albuquerque commemorates its founding in 1706 with live performances representing the City's cultural heritage.  Musician and historian Chuy Martinez, Events Supervisor for the Cultural Services Department, discusses how he has organized the musical performances for this year's Fiestas de Albuquerque, which will be offered free to the community on Saturday afternoon, April 18, in Histori

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In 20 years now of exhibitions, SITE Santa Fe has helped launch the careers of hundreds of emerging artists from around the world.  Recently, the contemporary art center in the Santa Fe Railyard has started taking under its wing young artists close to home.  Joanne Lefrak, SITE's Director of Education and Outreach, describes the SITE Scholar program, designed to help students from colleges and universities in northern New Mexico transition into th

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Designer and educator Melissa Lea Beasley wants to build a fashion industry here in New Mexico.  Melissa and the organization she founded, the Albuquerque Apparel Center, have invited designers and fashion professionals from around the state, and around the country, to the Albuquerque Convention Center on March 25-29 for the second annual New Mexico Fashion Week.  One of the goals of Fashion Week, Melissa says, is to bring area designers together with the

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More and more research tells us that music programs are an important part of a public school education.  Sadly, many of the kids who could most benefit from these programs are deciding not to take part.  Musician and educator Robb Janov discusses why some kids feel intimidated by public school music programs and how the non-profit he founded, The Rock and Rhythm Foundation, is using rock to help Albuquerque kids feel "at home" in music.

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In 2011, writer Philip Connors recounted his experiences as a wilderness lookout in southwestern New Mexico in the award-winning field narrative, "Fire Season."  In a new memoir, "All the Wrong Places, A Life Lost and  Found," published this month by Norton, Connors reveals the family tragedy that set him on a journey of  discovery and introspection that eventually led to the solace of that 50-foot tower.   Philip Connors signs copies of the new book on February 19 at Bookworks in Albuquerque and on February 20 at Collected Works in San

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A new research center in Albuquerque is working to provide practical business support and education to New Mexico's artists and arts organizations.  The Keshet Ideas and Innovation Center (KIIC) opened last July in the Keshet Dance Company's Center for the Arts.  KIIC's goal is job creation for New Mexico; as the Center's Director, Marla Wood, says, a "thriving arts and culture environment is a precursor to strong economic development."  

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Starting this month and continuing through June, major arts institutions in Albuquerque will be collaborating with local private galleries on an exploration of the art of central New Mexico.   The exhibitions, lectures and performances will focus on contemporary art but also look back to the area's cultural history.   One of the organizers of "On the Map," Andrew Connors, Curator of Art at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, talks about how Albuquerque art has always been characterized by an "openness to new technologies." 

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It was 1954 when George Balanchine summoned up memories of a festive holiday ballet from his Russian boyhood and remounted the production for the New York City Ballet.  Ever since, "The Nutcracker" has been a holiday tradition around the U.S.  There are several versions of Tchaikovsky's classic on stage this season in New Mexico, and one of them sets the story right here, in the New Mexico Territory of the 19th Century.  Choreographer Patricia Dickinson Wells, Artistic Director of Festival Ballet Albuquerque, talks about the company's "Nutcracker in the Land of Enchantment," on stage Decemb

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In 1990, during his tenure as Director of Music of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Santa Fe, Dr. Billy Turney created a separate, independent music ensemble, an a cappella choir that brings the sounds of sacred music to chapels, missions and churches throughout New Mexico.  This month, the Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe will perform a variety of Christmas-themed programs at sites in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Pojoaque.  Billy Turney talks with us about the origins of the choir. 

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Over the years, thousands of young men and boys in New Mexico, ages 6 to 18, have benefited from the musical training and comradeship offered by the Albuquerque Boy Choir.  Founded in 1937, the Choir is one of the state's longest-running arts organizations.  The current director of the Concert Choir, Kent Wall, talks about the 2014 winter concert, taking place on December 7 at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.  For information, visit, a

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From the 1870s to the 1960s, over 100,000 young women left home and traveled west for jobs at the Harvey Houses.  The successful restaurant and hotel chain was created by entrepreneur Fred Harvey to serve passengers on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad's route to the west.   Los Angeles-based filmmaker, and UNM graduate, Katrina Parks talks about her documentary "The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound."  Screenings and discussions about the film will take place at Albuquerque's KiMo Theatre on November 22 and at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe on December 7.  For information

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Conductor Anthony Barrese, Artistic Director of Albuquerque's Opera Southwest, has been working for ten years to reconstruct a 19th Century operatic adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."  A collaboration between composer Franco Faccio and librettist Arrigo Boito, "Amleto" premiered to acclaim in Italy in 1865, but Faccio withdrew it from circulation after a disastrous revival in 1871.  This month, Opera Southwest presents the first production of "Amleto" in 143 years.  Barrese talks about the history of "Amleto" and the research and reconstruction effort that resulted in his new critical ed

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The UNM Indian Student Association hosts classical dancer Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, along with eight members of her dance company, in a musical journey through multiple layers of Indian culture.  The Ghantasala company, based in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India, presents "Chakra -- A Myriad of the Four Seasons" on October 12 at Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center.  The Secretary of the UNM Indian Student Association, Indian classical dancer Trupthi Panickor, talks about the production.

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On October 4 and 5, Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center celebrates the music, art, food and dance of the American Indian.  Over fifty Native artisans will be talking about and selling their work, there will be performances by dancers from local pueblos, a Native fashion show, and a special courtyard concert by Native flutist R. Carlos Nakai and his colleagues, luthier William Eaton and percussionist Will Clipman.  Travis L. Suazo, Executive Director of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, offers a preview of the Festival.

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Since 2008, The Telling Project has traveled to cities around the United States offering military veterans an opportunity to deepen their connections with the communities they live in.  This month, in "Telling, Albuquerque," eight New Mexico veterans and military family members share their stories with audiences at the South Broadway Cultural Center.  The local producer of the show is New Mexico poet Caroline LeBlanc, who is also a retired U.S. Army nurse, as well as an Army wife and Army mother.

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The sixty-five musicians of the Santa Fe Symphony will be looking closely at, and listening closely to, a number of guest conductors during the Symphony's upcoming 31st season at the Lensic Center.  Maestro Steven Smith left the orchestra two years ago, after 14 seasons.  The Founder and General Director of the Santa Fe Symphony, trumpet player with the orchestra, Greg Heltman, talks about the Symphony's search for a new principal conductor.

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In 2004, choreographer Rulan Tangen and her company Dancing Earth began creating new movement inspired by the rituals and culture of Native America.  The Santa Fe-based "indigenous contemporary dance company" has since shared those explorations with audiences around the country, and in Canada and New Zealand.   Dancing Earth commemorates its 10th anniversary with an outdoor collaborative performance on August 24 at the Skylight Music Hall in Santa Fe.

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A four square-mile area in Albuquerque's Southeast Heights, the "International District," is home to recent immigrants from Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, along with a sizable Hispanic community and the city's largest concentration of Native Americans.  New Mexico poet Valerie Martínez and artists from the local non-profit organization Littleglobe have been working with members of the District since 2011 on a variety of community storytelling projects.  The public is invited to view those projects, along with performances, exhibitions and other events, at locations all around the

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A distinctive element of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival is that its artistic leadership is in the hands of a composer.  Marc Neikrug's programming features an ongoing commitment to works by his fellow contemporary composers, alongside music by 18th, 19th and 20th Century masters.  This year's Festival, from July 20 through August 25 in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, includes the world premiere of a highly anticipated work for string quartet and soprano by Australian composer Brett Dean.

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15,000 people, many of them in costume, are expected at Albuquerque's downtown Convention Center the weekend of June 27.  The 4th annual Albuquerque Comic Expo is a three-day celebration of popular culture and comic book culture, with national exhibitors, panel discussions, screenings, and Q&A's with celebrity guests.  The Expo's Media Manager, Jyllian Roach, explains.

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E.L. Bearer balances a distinquished career as a composer with her work as a biomedical scientist at the University of New Mexico Medical School.  Dr. Bearer talks about her new musical collaboration, "Songs and Elements," an interactive multimedia performance which will be presented on June 21 at El Museo Cultural, as part of Currents 2014, Santa Fe's 5th annual new media festival.

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Professional singers perform in three short original operas for young people in the open-air Gaddes Rehearsal Hall on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera, Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, May 31st through June 8th.  Andrea Fellows Walters, Director of the Education Program at the Santa Fe Opera, offers a preview of the productions.

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