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Music from Angel Fire artistic director marks 30th year

Violinist Ida Kavafian usually shines a light on the many fellow performers who appear at Music from Angel Fire.

For this summer’s festival, which begins Friday, Aug. 15, at the Angel Fire Community Center, Kavafian is taking liberties by turning some of the light on herself.

Ida Kavafian is marking 30 years as artistic director of Music from Angel Fire.

Ida Kavafian is marking 30 years as artistic director of Music from Angel Fire.

There’s good reason: She is celebrating her 30th year as the festival’s artistic director.

So the number 30 intentionally comes up in a compositional context during the season, which runs through Aug. 31.

Kavafian and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott open the festival with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in A major for Piano and Violin, which is Opus 30, No. 1.

On the following evening, Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Taos Center for the Arts, Kavafian and McDermott will play Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor for Piano and Violin, Opus 30, No. 2.

Then on Aug. 20, back at Angel Fire, they’ll team up for Opus 30, No. 3, which is Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in G major.

The same Aug. 20 program will also feature Kavafian on violin in Johannes Brahms’ Quartet No. 2 in A major for Piano and Strings, and in the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s Angel Fire Duo for Violin and Viola.

Kavafian and her violist husband, Steve Tenenbom, a member of the Orion String Quartet, will play the Sheng.

“It’s evocative and full of atmosphere,” she said in a phone interview about the Sheng work.

“He has an amazing way of blending his Chinese roots with his Western compositional technique. … He makes color with his music and has a good way of writing it.”

Sheng is the festival’s composer-in-residence. He is an internationally respected composer of chamber, orchestral, vocal and operatic works.

Bright Sheng is composer-in-residence this season for Music from Angel Fire.

Bright Sheng is composer-in-residence this season for Music from Angel Fire.

The festival will mark another “30” at the Aug. 21 concert at New Mexico Highlands University’s Ilfeld Auditorium in Las Vegas with Karol Szymanowski’s Opus 30, “Myths – Three Poems for Violin and Piano.”

The musicians are violinist Shannon Lee, a Kavafian student, and pianist Andrew Hsu, the festival’s young artist/composer-in-residence.

“The season is a blend of returning favorite artists and a few new artists,” Kavafian said.

Among the returning artists are McDermott, flutist Tara Helen O’Connor and cellist Peter Wiley.

Wiley will collaborate with his daughter, classical dancer Dona Wiley, in two pieces at the Aug. 23 “CelloPointe” concert in Taos.

The Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet is making its debut at Music from Angel Fire.

Kavafian invited the ensemble after sitting on the jury for a Concert Artists Guild competition at which the quartet played.

“I was stunned and wowed by them. I didn’t care if they placed or won, but I said at that point I am going to invite them to Angel Fire. They did win the competition,” she said.

The quartet formed in 2010 and is named for its mentor at the University of Michigan.

“To most of us, Donald Sinta is the father of modern classical saxophone in the United States,” Dan Graser, the quartet’s soprano saxophonist, said in a phone interview.

The ensemble will play selections from its repertoire in the festival’s first two concerts and at the Aug. 19 free concert at Raton’s Shuler Theater.

“The nice thing about being a saxophone quartet,” Graser said, “is that, a lot of times when people show up to hear us, they don’t have preconceptions about what they will hear.”

Pianist Andrew Hsu is young artist/composer-in-residence for Music from Angel Fire.

Pianist Andrew Hsu is young artist/composer-in-residence for Music from Angel Fire.

At the festival, he said, the quartet will play transcriptions of traditional works for string quartet and new music.

The other quartet members are Joe Girard, Danny Hawthorne-Foss and Zach Stern.

The 31st season of Music from Angel Fire presents concerts in Angel Fire, Taos, Raton and Las Vegas, N.M. The season includes its free Youth & Family Concerts in Taos and at the Eagle Nest Elementary/Middle School.

The Young Artist Program, now in its 16th year, presents 10 student-musicians from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pa., in festival and classroom concerts. They are also mentored by festival artists.

Concert tickets for the general public range from $20 to $40, with student discounts available for most concerts.

For tickets and more concert information, visit musicfromangelfire.org or call 575-377-3233 or toll-free 888-377-3300, or go to the festival office in Angel Fire.

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