A little superstition: Chatter will host August concerts at Albuquerque Museum

The ghostly Superstition Mountains rise east of Phoenix, their rugged cliffs like towers in a fortress.

Their pinnacles trumpet the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, a story about the German immigrant Jacob Waltz, who supposedly located a vein of gold somewhere within its peaks, but took the location to his grave.

The chamber music group Chatter is returning to the Albuquerque Museum.

On Sunday, Aug. 15, Chatter Sunday will perform at the Las Puertas Event Center with “Everything is named after something lost,” a world premiere by Arizona-based composer Alex Temple. Albuquerque multi-disciplinary artist Katie Doyle will join the musicians’ performance.

“It’s based on the physical appearance and history of Superstition Mountain,” Temple said in a phone interview from Tempe, Arizona, where she teaches composition at Arizona State University. “And what it’s like having puny humans climbing through you searching for gold. He claims to have found a vein of gold, which nobody has ever found and he probably made it up.”

Alex Temple

The promise of a $200 million mother lode has lured thousands of treasure hunters and continues to claim the lives of those eager to decipher the legend’s clues amid the 160,000 acres of brutal Arizona desert.

“Katie will be speaking and performing actions,” Temple said. “She’s kind of evolving a visual space. She’s playing the mountain itself.”

Temple based the music on the contours of the mountain, swirled with Americana music evoking the sounds of the Gold Rush.

She recognized her gifts as a composer when she was 11 years old.

“My family used to travel by house exchanges,” she said. They visited Padua, Italy.

“It was this marble-floored mansion,” Temple said. “And they had a great classical CD collection. I started listening to the CDs and I said, ‘I want to write my own music.’ ”

Chatter’s Thursday August series, at the Albuquerque Museum, will reflect the museum’s current exhibitions “Eye to I: “Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery” and “Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group.”

• On Aug. 5, the musicians will play Dmitri Shostakovich’s autobiographical String Quartet No. 8. The concert features two works by George Gershwin, whose self-portrait is featured in the portrait exhibit: Lullaby for string quartet and a chamber version of Rhapsody in Blue.

• On Aug. 12, the music will reflect the Transcendental Painting Group exhibition with music by American polymath Dane Rudhyar, who was a famous astrologer and influential modernist composer.

• On Aug. 19, the group will present Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Music for Small Orchestra, alongside Aaron Copland’s famous Appalachian Spring. Copland visited New Mexico in 1928. Chatter also will play John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra. The composer dedicated the piece to Elaine de Kooning, whose self-portrait appears in the exhibition.

• On Aug. 26, the final series concert will feature selections from Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder, of which the composer said, “It is myself.”

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