ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico has its share of musical families but few have made marks as indelibly as Leonard, Arlette and David Felberg of Albuquerque.
Leonard Felberg, known as Lenny, is a still-active violinist who retired from the University of New Mexico after spending 28 years as the violin professor. He also served as concertmaster of the Santa Fe Symphony for 22 years and was a member of the Seraphin Trio.
His wife, Arlette, is a pianist, a longtime piano teacher and the artistic director of Albuquerque Chamber Soloists.
Their son, David, is a violinist who wears many musical hats. He’s the artistic director of Chatter, the concertmaster of the Santa Fe Symphony, the associate concertmaster of the New Mexico Philharmonic, the conductor of the Albuquerque Philharmonic and an instructor of contemporary music at UNM.
The three will be in concert Jan. 12 at Congregation B’nai Israel.
“They are such a unique family in every way, both personally and musically,” Guillermo Figueroa, the music director of the Figueroa Music & Arts Project, said in an email.
“The relationship between Lenny and David is thrilling to watch. Two master violinists, but each so different in style and musical personality. Lenny’s influence on David is obvious, but he has taken off in different directions. … That they are now completely comfortable treating each other as musical colleagues is a testament to the love and respect that is a characteristic of the family.”
Figueroa described Arlette Felberg as “the indisputable First Lady of music in Albuquerque.” He said that she has allowed her husband’s and their children’s talents to bloom while never neglecting her own ability as a pianist.
“This could never happen if there was not that deep sense of love and respect which they so much have for one another, and which they in turn communicate to all that come into their world,” Figueroa said.
(Lenny and Arlette Felberg have another son, Jamie; he’s a talented cellist who works as a freelance emergency room physician based in Lubbock, Texas.)
Arlette Felberg thinks of herself as a pianist and as a teacher in the same breath. She does a lot of what she termed diagnostic teaching.
“Often, a student’s aspirations are frustrated by the interference of physical limitations, and even pain,” she said.
“When I work with a student, my object is to identify potential difficulties in the music and limitations in the students’ ability to overcome them” with a broad-based practice regimen in order to avoid repetitive stress injury. In tandem with the regimen, she has students master a form of relaxed concentration with other factors.
David Felberg thinks his parents – as performers, teachers and proponents of classical music – have contributed greatly to New Mexico’s music scene.
“My father has nurtured a generation of great violinists and string players. … His students not only play in all the major professional groups around New Mexico but all over the world. My mother, through the organization that she founded, Albuquerque Chamber Soloists, has brought world-class chamber music concerts to Albuquerque, and has built a thriving community of music lovers around it,” he said.
Figueroa said in the email that David Felberg, in his own understated way, has become “a true revolutionary force in our state. There is nothing that he doesn’t do well musically. … The innovations that he has achieved with the various incarnations of Chatter, and his tenacity in putting new music constantly in front of a recalcitrant audience is admirable, and has done much to raise the level of musical intelligence in our city.”
The Felbergs’ Jan. 12 program includes Ernest Bloch’s “Baal Shem” (Three Pictures of Chassidic Life) for violin and piano; Fritz Kreisler’s “La Gitana” for violin and piano; Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata in F major for Violin and Piano; and “Sunrise Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof.”