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Stars come out for Santa Fe Symphony

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Santa Fe Symphony will open its 35th season with two generations of musical artistry.

Violinist Sirena Huang.

Violinist Sirena Huang.

Renowned violinist Elmar Oliveira will share the stage with celebrated violinist Sirena Huang, the winner of Oliveira’s namesake international prize in 2017. Oliveira remains the only American winner of the Gold Medal at Moscow’s prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition and the first violinist to win the coveted Avery Fisher Prize.

The pair will join the symphony at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Sept. 16, on Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor and on Barber’s Violin Concerto, op. 14.

“It’s not too often that you have two terrific artists on the same program,” principal conductor Guillermo Figueroa said.

Violinist Elmar Oliveira.

Violinist Elmar Oliveira.

“I was booking Sirena – Sirena, Elmar and I all have the same manager,” Figueroa said. “The manager called me and said, ‘Would you like to have Elmar?’ I said, ‘Are you crazy? I can’t afford him.’ She got him to accept a big break with our orchestra.”

Huang will play the Bach with Oliveira, her mentor.

“The Bach is one of the most famous pieces he wrote for the violin,” Figueroa said. “The violins sound like the same voice. (It has) one of the great all-time slow movements; I played it with my wife at my wedding.”

The Barber remains the greatest violin concerto penned by an American composer, Figueroa said.

“It’s very romantic, very virtuosic,” he said. “The last movement is a great show-off for the violin.”

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Opus 74, the “Pathetique” will close the program with the composer’s final work written in 1893.

“That’s the piece that is Tchaikovsky’s farewell to the world,” Figueroa said. “He conducted the piece, and three days later he died.”

Tchaikovsky wrote to his nephew that he wept frequently while working on the symphony.

The word “pathetique” is hard to translate into English, Figueroa said. Its automatic transformation into “pathetic” is problematic, he added.

“It implies a state of mind,” he said; “almost despair.”

Fittingly, the music opens in darkness. “He was a very troubled soul, and he pours all of his emotions into this piece,” Figueroa said. “He inverts the movements. The slow movement is the last. It’s all about death; I think he knew it was coming.”

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