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Santa Fe Symphony announces 2020-21 concert season

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In 1960, Igor Stravinsky conducted his mammoth Symphony of Psalms inside Santa Fe’s Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Mary Elizabeth Bowden, trumpet. (Courtesy of The Santa Fe Symphony)

Today a brass plaque at the rear of the cathedral marks that historic event.

The Santa Fe Symphony will duplicate that program in the same Romanesque Revival space as part of its 2020-21 season on April 29, 2021.

“This was (symphony conductor) Guillermo Figueroa’s idea,” said Daniel Crupi, Santa Fe Symphony executive director. “We’re going to tap into Santa Fe’s vibrant cultural legacy.”

The season opens in the orchestra’s Lensic Performing Arts Center home base with a 70-piece orchestra performance of Mendelssohn’s overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Sept. 13. Violinist Alexi Kenney will solo on Dvorák’s Violin Concerto in A Minor.

“He is beloved by Santa Fe audiences,” Crupi said of the violinist. “He won an Avery Fisher career grant, which is the mark of magnificence. It’s one of the most beautiful and extraordinary pieces in the repertoire.”

The orchestra will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary with an all-Beethoven program on Oct. 18. The musicians will play the composer’s Symphony No. 2, his overture to “Edmonton” and the Emperor Piano Concerto No. 5 with 2017 American Pianists Association winner Drew Petersen.

“It’s fiendishly difficult, and it’s extraordinary,” Crupi said of the piano concerto. “It requires a lot of stamina and fortitude by the pianist. We had (Petersen) a couple of years ago, and he just astonished our audience and Guillermo.”

The musicians will return to holiday favorites in November-December, with Handel’s “Messiah” on Nov. 21-22 and a Christmas pops concert on Dec. 13. On Christmas Eve, the symphony will debut “A Night at the Opera,” featuring arias, overtures, duets, trios and quartets with four Santa Fe Opera apprentices.

On Jan. 17, 2021, the orchestra will perform a newly commissioned work for trumpet and orchestra by JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung. Performed by Mary Elizabeth Bowden, it was co-commissioned by Santa Fe Symphony and seven additional musical organizations, including the Erie Philharmonic, the Chicago Youth Symphony, the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra and the San Jose Symphony.

On Feb. 14, symphony principal flutist Jesse Tatum will play Christopher Rouse’s Flute Concerto, alongside Jennifer Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral” and Holst’s epic “The Planets.”

Violinist Rubén Rengel.

“It’s a great Valentine’s Day program,” Crupi said.

On March 5 and 6, the orchestra will join Performance Santa Fe in bringing the Martha Graham Dance Company to re-create the original 13-piece chamber orchestra of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.” The piece premiered in 1944 with Graham dancing the lead role. The event will require an additional ticket for season subscribers.

On March 21, the symphony will emphasize its commitment to diversity by booking Rubén Rengel, the first of three Sphinx Organization soloists to be featured in coming seasons. The Sphinx Organization is a social justice group whose mission is diversity in the arts. Rengel will play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor alongside 20th century African American composer Florence Pierce’s Symphony No. 1.

Flutist Jesse Tatum.

Pierce was a once unknown Romantic composer, Crupi said.

“She’s currently enjoying a renaissance,” he said. “If you look at the standard orchestral canon, it is overwhelmingly white and male.”

The season will end on May 16, 2021, with Charles Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major.

International Tchaikovsky Competition gold medal winner Zlatomir Fung is the soloist on Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor.

“I think he was 21 when he won,” Crupi said.

The symphony is surviving the pandemic, thanks to donations and grants.

Crupi said the orchestra recently received a $168,000 federal payroll protection grant.

“People have been very generous,” he said.

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