Summer is in full swing and like many of you, New Mexico Performing Arts Society is on a break, but administrators are hard at work behind the scenes preparing for the start of the 2024-2025 season. 

My name is Leah Romero and I am NMPAS’s media outreach coordinator. I am based in Las Cruces and this will be the first season I’ll be able to travel to the society’s performances up north. I’m super excited!

Last season ended in June with Music of Spain: The Art of Zarzuela performed in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Both nights ended with standing ovations for the costumes, lighting, drama and magnificent performances of the Spanish artform. 

“The one thing I’m disappointed in this season is that we would have liked to see attendance bounce back from COVID-19 more quickly. We were just starting to see attendance rebuild at the very end of the year so we’re hopeful that that momentum will continue into next season,” said Linda Marianiello, NMPAS executive director.

We are trying something new leading up to the next season: over the next few weeks we will share with you interviews with the society’s administrators and performers. The idea is for you to get to know us a little bit better as we get closer to the start of the 13th season. 

It is still about two months away, but audiences can expect something different for the opening concert. We will kick off the season on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8 with J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion. The performance is a rescheduling of the 2024 annual New Mexico Bach Society concerts due to illness in the ensemble. 

The St. John Passion is one of two written by Bach that have survived, and the production will be the largest NMPAS has presented since before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“NMPAS works really hard to avoid having to cancel events and if we do have to cancel something for illness, we work extra hard to reschedule it as soon as possible. This is especially the case with the St. John, which is such a huge piece, and such a big project for NMPAS,” Marianiello said. “We’re doing St. John Passion a little later than we originally intended but it’s really, really exciting to be doing a work of this depth and scope. It demands a great deal of the performer so you have to have the right people to be able to sing, especially the solo roles.”

Tickets for these performances are already available for purchase on our website:

The fall half of the upcoming season will continue with Handel’s Messiah in early November. The project will be a major collaboration between NMPAS, Taos Community Chorus, Las Vegas Community Choir and the choirs at New Mexico Highlands University. NMPAS is providing the soloists and orchestra for Messiah.

And then performers will jump right into the Winter Solstice concerts the week of Thanksgiving. A weighty few months, no?

We will all take a much deserved winter break before returning in 2025 with several chamber performances, opera concerts and the annual 2025 New Mexico Bach Society concerts. Next year’s Bach Society concert will be the rescheduled Cantata Series II performance from spring 2024, featuring Bach’s Cantata BWV 21. NMPAS is also commissioning a new work by composer Aaron Alter to premiere at the 2025 New Mexico Bach Society performances in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. 

We’ve done a number of world premieres of his music and our audiences like it. It’s very approachable and kind of eclectic in style. It’s got a pop element to it. He uses rock and jazz elements in his classical compositions and people dig it,” Marianiello said.

The progression is a little bit different than previous years, but we are all excited to present these programs for you!

One change audiences can expect this coming year is a change in venue. Our Santa Fe performances will not take place at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat Center as it undergoes renovations. We will keep you posted on the new venue when we get that detail nailed down. 

We really need people to come out to our concerts. We work really hard and our concerts are wonderful. The people who go to them are just so thrilled to be there,” Marianiello said. “Take a chance, get a ticket and come.”

We are also making some changes behind the scenes that you might notice going forward. Marianiello and artistic director, Franz Vote, moved to a part-time schedule this month. Their change in schedule will continue going forward, brought on by complications with long COVID. 

Others in the office will be stepping in to pick up some of the administrative duties, including Daniel Schwab (administrative assistant), David Ponder (bookkeeper), Shannon Whitehead (webmaster), Pete Monro (videographer) and Leah Romero (media outreach consultant). 

September is right around the corner, so think about purchasing your tickets early! Our website will be kept up-to-date with upcoming ticket sales. 

And keep an eye on your inbox for the next interviews with Artistic Director Franz Vote and performers preparing for St. John Passion.

“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 ( 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 (, 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

Kelli Dahlke-Fuentes
Jennifer Perez
Camille Tierney

Esther Moses Bergh
Trish Henning

Scott Fitzgibbon
Andre Garcia-Nuthmann
Seth Hartwell

Paul Bower
Tjett Gerdom
Tim Willson

Linda Marianiello, flute
Jacquelyn Helin, piano


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



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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