“The Creative Fire” took place last evening in Santa Fe’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel. We premiered two new works by living composers, Aaron Alter (Carlsbad, CA) and Daniel Steven Crafts (Albuquerque, NM). Both pieces were very well received by those who took a chance and tried something new.

The NM Bach Society Ensemble performs Aaron Alter’s “Together We Create and Sing.”

Composer Aaron Alter and Santa Fe painter Richard Kurman pose before the concert.

Santa Fe artist Richard G. Kurman presented a number of his recent paintings. The music for the concert was a wonderful reflection of the Classical roots that inspired his art, on the one hand, and new music that reaches back to those roots to do something new, on the other. The texts for the new musical works were also rooted in major English and American literature from the 15th through the 20th centuries. To put it succinctly: something new from something old.

Richard Kurman’s paintings on exhibit at “The Creative Fire” (May 9, 2017 in Santa Fe’s Immaculate Heart Chapel).

But let’s step back for a moment and consider why the NMPAS Bach concert on April 9th was completely sold out and “The Creative Fire” drew a very respectable, but smaller audience …

Having personally lived through many performances of “modern” music, I can certainly understand how many people shy away from concerts that feature new works. Much of the music of the 20th century, in particular, has come from the academic world and emphasizes “perfection” and “intellectualization” to what I consider extreme degrees. There are modern composers who write electronic music exclusively and openly state that this is the only way for their music to be “perfectly” realized. Human performers are simply incapable of producing the kind of “perfection” they seek, so computers are the wave of the future for this group of pioneers.

Those of us – and we are by far the majority! – who don’t appreciate music that comes mainly from the intellect are considered unsophisticated and incapable of appreciating the genius of these forward looking composers. But does it matter whether music actually sounds good or not? To me, this is a central question.

Continuing along these lines, I would argue that the complete break with past traditions as envisioned by Arnold Schoenberg and others has not resulted in music that people like to listen to. In college music theory classes, I recall being fascinated by scores that “looked” amazing. When I went to the listening library to hear them, whatever initially fascinated me from a visual standpoint was overshadowed by the actual sound of the music. Most of the time I couldn’t hear the theoretical underpinnings of the work, which led me to conclude that, if you can’t hear it, then what’s the point?

Yet despite the problems with a lot of 20th and 21st century music, I am still a big fan of new music that sounds good and speaks to me. And this is really the main point of this blog post: One of the goals of New Mexico Performing Arts Society is to present high-quality performances of music that reaches the hearts of audiences. And if some of that music is new, so be it!

For those who may have boycotted this particular program because of other new works that they have not enjoyed, I’d like to invite them to Step Outside of the Familiar and try something different when the next opportunity arises.

Linda Marianiello

Before we provide details of an upcoming program I know you will love, I would like to thank the NMPAS musicians and Richard G. Kurman for donating their time and energy to “The Creative Fire,” a concert benefitting NMPAS 2016-2017 season events. Your ticket purchase goes to artist fees and other program-related expenses – thank you in advance for your presence and support!

– Linda Marianiello, Executive Director, NMPAS

On Saturday evening, May 6, 2017 at 7 pm, NMPAS presents a program that particularly reflects our mission and interest in various expressions of artistic creativity: fine art, music and literature.

“The Creative Fire” features an exhibit of late period paintings by Santa Fe Artist Richard G. Kurman, paired with music that has inspired his art over a more than 60-year period. Kurman spent many decades of his long career in Germany, traveling throughout Europe and exhibiting at the Florence Biennale. A significant number of his works reside at corporate headquarters and in private homes in Germany.

Richard G. Kurman (www.richardgkurman.com) is a New Mexico treasure with a long-term relationship with our state. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico. Among his important teachers was Raymond Jonson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Jonson), a Modernist artist who achieved renown for his paintings of the US Southwest, in particular. After many years in Europe, Richard retired to Santa Fe with his German wife. Two of Richard Kurman’s paintings, “Endgame Purple,” and “Mesa Nevado del Toluca Mexico,” will be for sale at the Santa Fe Art Auction in November 2017:

Endgame Purple, Richard G. Kurman

nevado del toluca by Kurman

Mesa Nevado del Toluca Mexico, Richard G. Kurman

The musical part of the program evolved through an NMPAS commission for a new work by Aaron Alter. In consultation with Richard Kurman, Aaron has written a work, “Together We Create and Sing,” in the style of Franz Joseph Haydn with text by W. H. Auden. Music from Haydn’s oratorio, “The Creation,” appears throughout the program, punctuated by readings on creativity by William Shakespeare. Excerpts from Albuquerque composer Daniel Steven Crafts’ opera, “Adonais,” based on the life of John Keats and his Circle, round out the program.

Here is a copy of the complete program that you will experience on May 6, 2017 in Santa Fe’s beautiful Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel:

“The Creative Fire”
Honoring Santa Fe Artist Richard Kurman
Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Immaculate Heart Chapel, 50 Mount Carmel Road, Santa Fe

An Exhibit of Richard Kurman’s paintings paired with music and literature that inspired the artist, including a new commission by composer Aaron Alter, Music of Franz Joseph Haydn and Daniel Steven Crafts; Members of the New Mexico Bach Society; Franz Vote, Music Director and Conductor.

The New Mexico Bach Chorale

SOPRANO
Kelli Dahlke-Fuentes
Jennifer Perez
Camille Tierney

ALTO
Esther Moses Bergh
Trish Henning

TENOR
Scott Fitzgibbon
Andre Garcia-Nuthmann
Seth Hartwell

BASS
Paul Bower
Tjett Gerdom
Tim Willson

Linda Marianiello, flute
Jacquelyn Helin, piano

PART ONE

Franz Vote opening remarks

Haydn, The Creation:
Opening #1, In the beginning, Tjett Gerdom, bass, Chorus
Recitative #8 and Aria #9, With verdure clad, Camille Tierney, soprano
Recitative #20, 21 and Aria #22, Now heaven in fullest glory shone, Tim Willson, bass
Recitative #23 and Aria #24, In native worth and honor clad, Andre Garcia Nuthmann, tenor

Daniel Steven Crafts, Adonais, an Opera in Two Acts,
libretto by Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold based upon
the poetry and letters of John Keats and his Circle

Act one, scene one, I weep for Adonais, chorus, text by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Solo, Bright Star, Esther Moses Bergh, soprano, text by Keats
Final chorus, The breath whose might I have evoked in song, chorus, text by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Richard Kurman introduction and remarks

INTERMISSION

PART TWO

Aaron Alter, Together We Create and Sing!
for flute, piano and SATB chorus,
inspired by the music of Franz Joseph Haydn,
(Text by W.H. Auden and Aaron Alter)
(My New Beginning — Part XXI)
Dedicated to The New Mexico Performing Arts Society and Richard Kurman

John Andrews reading from Shakespeare I

Haydn, The Creation:
Trio #27, On thee each living soul awaits, Jennifer Perez, soprano, Seth Hartwell, tenor, Paul Bower, bass

John Andrews reading from Shakespeare II

Haydn, The Creation:
#2 Recitative, And God saw the light, Scott Fitzgibbon, tenor
#13 Chorus and soli, The heavens are telling the glory of God,
Kelli Dahlke-Fuentes, soprano, Scott Fitzgibbon, tenor, Tjett Gerdom, bass

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