ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Philharmonic is bridging the gap between the pandemic and live performances with a virtual galaxy of stars.
The NMPhil Now! virtual platform will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, with pianist Olga Kern – namesake of the Albuquerque-based Olga Kern International Piano Competition. Other returning artists include violinist Rachel Barton Pine and guitarist Jason Vieaux.
Recorded in Prague, the Russian-born Kern’s program varies from the expected Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev to works by Clara Schumann and Gershwin.
The pianist described dodging the pandemic while attempting to maintain a busy concert schedule before the European borders shuttered.
“It was an adventure,” she said in a telephone interview from Moscow, where she was staying with her parents.
The New York-based Kern played a concert in Iceland before the shutdown, then flew back to Russia. With some restrictions loosening in September, she booked a cargo flight to Prague, then Copenhagen, Denmark, and finally Sweden for her last performance of the year.
“Of course, I had to have a COVID test a million times,” she said. “All the airports were empty. It was very sad to see.”
Today, she teaches at the Manhattan School of Music online and judges online piano competitions. Albuquerque audiences will see Kern playing a collection of short pieces. Clara Schumann’s 4 Pièces fugitives, Op. 15, No. 1 is a Kern favorite.
“It’s such a beautiful miniature; it’s so romantic,” she said. “Her music is incredible; it’s so visionary.”
Kern chose Amy Beach’s Three Pianoforte Pieces, Op. 128, No. 1 – Scherzino: A Peterborough Chipmunk, because she wanted to play music by an American woman.
“You can hear in this music a chipmunk; how this little animal is running around and stopping,” she said.
She’ll also throw in more familiar favorites like Rachmaninoff’s Moments musicaux, Op. 16, No. 4 and Prokofiev’s Four Etudes for Piano, Op. 2, No. 4, as well as three Gershwin preludes.
“I know the audience in Albuquerque and I love them,” Kern said. “I know they always want something new. I hope everything will be better in the spring.”
Additional virtual concerts include:
• Cellist Andrei Ionita and pianist Naoko Sonoda will perform works by Schumann, Chausson and Bartók at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21.
• At 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, the Philharmonic will rewind to the 2019 Olga Kern Competition first-prize winner Tetiana Shafran’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
• Violinist Rachel Barton Pine will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, in a recital of Bach, Kreisler, Coleridge-Taylor and Paganini.
• At 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, the first Olga Kern Competition winner Chen Guang will play Schumann’s evocative Carnaval.
• Fiery soprano Catalina Cuervo will sing “Home for the Holidays with Catalina” and the Philharmonic at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19.
• Violinst Karen Gomyo will play old and new works from Bach to Biber to Samuel Carl Adams at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26.
• Grammy-winning guitarist Vieaux will perform works by Bach, Scarlatti and more, as well as his own “Developmental Etudes” at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2.
• Another New Mexico Philharmonic replay will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, when Olga Kern Competition second-prize winner Federico Gad Crema plays Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
• Gold medal winner of the 10th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Richard Lin will play at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16.
• Second-prize 2016 Olga Kern Competition winner Anna Dmytrenko will perform a program of Wagner-Liszt, Schubert-Liszt, Liszt and Martin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23.
• Violinist Ilya Kaler will end the series at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. Kaler is the only violinist in the world to have won the gold medal at the Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Paganini violin competitions.
Virtual tickets are $12 per performance; subscribers and donors are free. Subscription series $115 for all performances. Information at nmphil.org.