Spencer Beckwith On The Arts

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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." 


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, o


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. 


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. 

Northern Arizona University, Cline Library

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 a


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


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.


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.


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


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.

© Paulo T. Photography

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

  Actress Lisandra Tena had a hit in Chicago in 2012 with her show, "Guera," which recounts her experiences growing up in Albuquerque.  From May 16th through the 25th, Lisandra brings the interactive show to the performing arts center at her alma mater, Working Classroom, in downtown.  Lisandra talks about her teenage years and how they've informed her work and career.

Built just after the turn of the 20th Century, the 25,000 sq. ft. Blacksmith Shop at the Albuquerque Rail Yard has been largely unused since the City closed down the Yard in 1986.  The Shop will be back in the public eye on May 3 when the Albuquerque chamber ensemble Chatter converts the space into a concert hall for music by J. S. Bach, Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt.   KUNM's Spencer Beckwith speaks with the Artistic Director of Chatter, violinist David Felberg.

Fri. 3/21 10a:  For 14 seasons, from 1999 to 2013, Steven Smith served as Music Director of the Santa Fe Symphony.  On April 13, the Maestro returns for a final concert, leading the orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 7 at the Lensic Center.  Spencer Beckwith speaks with Steven Smith about Mahler's Symphony and about his fondest memories of his years with the Santa Fe Symphony.

Thurs. 3/20 10a:  For six days, from April 5 through April 10, the public is invited to concerts, workshops, panel discussions and master classes focused on new music in venues around Albuquerque and on the UNM campus.  The centerpiece of the 2014 John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium is a new chamber opera, "Cuatro Corridos," presented on April 7 at the South Broadway Cultural Center.   Spencer Beckwith speaks with the co-Artistic Director of the Symposium, UNM Assistant Professor of Composition, Peter Gilbert.

Fri. 3/14 10a:  Young musicians from northern New Mexico will perform selections from Broadway and Bach, and from jazz and pop, on March 15 at the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe.  Joining the young performers will be Grammy-winning composer and pianist, David Grusin.  Proceeds from the concert benefit the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association.  The SFYSA's Artistic Director, Dana Winograd, joins Spencer Beckwith for a  preview.

Thurs. 3/13 10a:  From March 23 through March 30 at Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center, Opera Southwest presents its first-ever production of Georges Bizet's romantic triangle set in colonial Ceylon, "The Pearl Fishers."  Spencer Beckwith is joined by the opera's director, Nathaniel Merchant.

Wed. 3/12 10a:  This month and next, New Mexico's theater community joins together in a celebration of Irish plays and playwrights.  The Southwest Irish Theatre Festival opens on March 14 with a production of Seán O'Casey's "Juno and the Paycock" at Albuquerque's Vortex Theatre and continues with six other productions in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  Spencer Beckwith is joined by the co-organizer of the Festival, UNM Professor Emeritus, and born-and-bred Dubliner, Alan Hudson.

Fri. 3/7 10a:  Maxine Thévenot, Director of Cathedral Music at the Cathedral of St. John in downtown Albuquerque, joins Spencer Beckwith for a look at the Cathedral's series of Friday night concerts taking place during Lent, from March 7 through April 11.  Featuring local and visiting musicians, the series uses both the Cathedral and its more intimate Kaseman Hall.

Thurs. 3/6 10a:  John Corigliano's "Fern Hill," based on the poem by Dylan Thomas, is the centerpiece of a program looking at ideas of home, when Quintessence: Choral Artists of the Southwest performs on March 8 at Immanuel Presbyterian Church and on March 9 at St. John's United Methodist Church.  Artistic Director Matthew Greer joins Spencer Beckwith for a preview of the Albuquerque concerts.

Wed. 3/5 10a:  Founded in 1959 by retired Albuquerque Public School music teacher Kenneth Lloyd Higgins, the Hummingbird Music Camp will again this summer welcome young people ages 8 to 14 to in-depth musical instruction in the mountains north of Jemez Springs.  Spencer Beckwith talks with the Camp's Music Director, the son of Kenneth Lloyd Higgins, horn player Elliott Higgins.

Fri. 2/28 10a:  On March 8, Albuquerque guitar makers, Pimentel & Sons, continues its popular concert series at the National Hispanic Cultural Center with a solo concert by Cuban-born classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco.  The public is also invited to a master class with Barrueco on March 7 at the NHCC.  Spencer Beckwith talks with the President and Vice-President of Pimentel & Sons, guitar makers Rick Pimentel and Robert Pimentel.

Thurs. 2/27 10a:  As part of its program, "Here and Now", on March 7 at the Scottish Rite Center, the chamber music ensemble Serenata of Santa Fe premieres works by two local composers, Kelvin McNeal and Ron Strauss.  Spencer Beckwith talks with Kelvin McNeal about the new set of songs he has written for soprano Gail Springer.

Wed. 2/26 10a:  Husband and wife, Frank Leto and Pilar Leto, along with his band PANdemonium and her Odara Dance Ensemble, are back on February 28 and March 1 with the annual Carnaval celebration at Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural.  Spencer Beckwith talks with Frank Leto about the 2014 production, an original musical set on the streets of Brazil, New Orleans, Cuba, and Trinidad.

Fri. 2/21 10a:  In addition to established performers like violinist Regina Carter, vocalist René Marie and saxophonist Joshua Redman, the spring season at Albuquerque's Outpost Performance Space, which opens on March 6, will showcase some exciting emerging musicians both from the national music scene and from here in the Southwest.  Spencer Beckwith is joined by the founder and Executive Director of the Outpost, Tom Guralnick.