On March 25, Linda Marianiello interviewed New Mexico Bach Society mezzo soprano Kehar Koslowsky, who has been singing with us for the past several seasons. Artistic Director Franz Vote calls the New Mexico Bach Chorale “an ensemble of soloists.” Most members of the Chorale are soloists for our programs and also sing the choral parts for each of the works presented.
The first topic of discussion was the health emergency, due to COVID-19, and how this is affecting Kehar’s work and the cultural life of Santa Fe in general. We talked about how strange it would be if the summer 2020 festivals were canceled, due to the coronavirus.
Then, we discussed the musicians’ relief fund organized by Thomas Goodrich, one of New Mexico’s most important music educators and musicians. Among other things, Thomas teaches at United World College and New Mexico Highlands University. Taking its cue in part from this initiative, NMPAS asks our donors to please make a donation to the NMPAS Artist Relief Fund, which will assist our artists who are struggling during the cancellation of so many concerts and church engagements. We’ll provide information on how to make a donation at the conclusion of this interview.
Kehar Koslowsky has been performing since she was 4! She has been on stage for most of her life and really loves it. In fact, the women in her family are all musically active, and her grandmother was her first teacher.
At age 13, she began to take voice lessons. Before that she had already played cello since the age of 8. The experience that Kehar gained in school orchestras remains an important part of her training to this day. For example, she mentioned that she learns coloratura passages in works she’s performing by imagining how she would finger them on the cello!
We talked about how important it is for children to have musical experiences, the earlier, the better. Kehar grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York, which had great music programs in the schools. Her high school program was particularly good and offered AP music theory, which she took.
She also participated in a music theater program at Carnegie Mellon University that helped her to choose the classical, rather than the music theater, direction. After that, she pursued a music degree at University of Maryland – College Park. Kehar mentioned that college study encourages students to narrow their focus, a directive she followed at the start of her professional career. After graduation, Kehar lived and worked in Washington, DC for 6 years. For her, this was a period of oratorio and choral work.
For the past 8 years, Kehar has lived in Santa Fe. She originally came here to work for a yoga organization, and she took a break from singing for several of those years. As a more experienced professional, Kehar has returned to singing with the desire to broaden the scope of her musical activities. Among her new areas of interest and activity are recital work, opera, musical theater, and “fusion” projects that incorporate world music and other genres.
As far as opera is concerned, she said that being a lyric coloratura mezzo dictates the choices open to her. Her voice is perfectly suited to baroque, Mozart, French repertoire, and Rossini. Nineteenth-century art song also suits her, but she will probably not venture into Verdi, Puccini, or Wagner. There are also 20th-century operas that work well for her voice.
Kehar feels that the New Mexico music environment is a good one for artists like herself, who want to perform in a variety of settings and to explore new directions. She is a part-time, professional singer, and hopes to build her career to nearly full-time, freelance work.
She mentioned that many musicians have to supplement their income with “something else.” For her, this includes web development and marketing. She began to garner experience immediately after college, when she worked for a publisher. This got her into the digital realm, and today she is able to help nonprofits and other small businesses with their web development and marketing plans.
Kehar’s professional goals thus include looking into more singing opportunities and expanding her client base. Ideally, she’d like to work with more music nonprofits, especially since she has special expertise in this area.
The coronavirus is forcing many people, including Kehar, to “get clearer on life and actualizing that.” Currently, all of her work has been canceled for March and April, and she has 4 concerts schedule for May 2020. These include the Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Polyphony, and NMPAS. She has no idea whether any of them will happen.
Kehar also has a church job, as do many of our vocalists in the New Mexico Bach Chorale. Now that churches are not holding services, some are moving to online worship. She works with NMPAS artist and pianist Debbie Wagner at Santa Fe’s Christian Science Church. They initially shut down, but are starting video hookup for services. She’ll have her first streaming experience this coming Sunday, March 29th.
If you would like to support the work of Kehar Koslowsky during the COVID-19 emergency, please make a donation via the DONATE button on the NMPAS website or by mailing your donation to our PO Box:
New Mexico Performing Arts Society
3201 Zafarano Dr, Suite C #236,
Santa Fe, NM 87507
If you mail us a donation, please include a note, asking us to use the funds for the NMPAS Artist Relief Fund. In that case, your donation will to go directly to our musicians during the coronavirus emergency.
To our artists and audience members: please be safe and stay healthy!
Kehar Koslowsky, fourth from left, at the NMPAS 2019 Winter Solstice Concert in Santa Fe (Nov 30, 2019)