SANTA FE, N.M. — When Roberto Sierra composer-in-residence for Music From Angel Fire, sat down to write a piece for the festival five months ago, he thought about its namesake and wondered why the words “angel” and “fire” had been put together.
“Angels are celestial and fire is fire, so I asked myself how this happened,” Sierra said during a recent phone interview from New York. “I started making up a story in my mind about the name Angel Fire. I had images of fighting angels and imaginary creatures. It was very fantasy-like.”
Sierra composed the piano quartet “Fuego de ángel” with movements titled “The Angels and the Shadow,” “Mysterious Dance,” “Vision of the Angel” and “Fire” for Opus One, which consists of pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violist Steven Tenenbom, cellist Peter Wiley, and Ida Kavafian, violinist and artistic director for Music From Angel Fire. The piece will premier on Aug. 24 in Angel Fire Community Center.
Taking place at venues in Angel Fire, Taos, Raton and Las Vegas, Music From Angel Fire brings world-class chamber music performances to the mountains of northern New Mexico every summer. The 28th season begins tonight and continues through Sept. 4.
Kavafian calls this season “Two B’s and not Two B’s- Bach, Beethoven and Beyond.” The two opening concerts are devoted to Beethoven’s “Piano Trios,” with three performed at each concert by Kavafian, McDermott and Wiley.
“I got the idea to program these works after Marc Neikrug asked us to play them at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival this summer,” Kavafian said. “Before I scheduled them, I asked Marc if he would mind if we played them at Music From Angel Fire as well as in Santa Fe. He was so gracious and said it was fine.”
The musicians will perform works by J.S. Bach and his family members at Taos Center for the Arts on Aug. 31.
The festival’s free concert at the Shuler Theater in Raton on Aug. 23 will feature works by Telemann and Beethoven as well as the 2007 quartet “Long, Long Ago” written by Michael Djupstrom, the 2011 young composer-inrResidence for Music From Angel Fire. His most recent piece, “Daydreams and Nightvisions” for violin and cello, premieres on Sept. 4 in Angel Fire Community Center. The 31-year-old composer and pianist teaches piano lessons in Philadelphia and studies composition at the Curtis Institute of Music.
One of the most popular events during the festival is “Closer Encounters,” which gives audience members a behind-the-scenes look at the music-making process. Musicians treat it as an open rehearsal where they verbally interact with each other and with audience members who are welcome to ask questions about the music. Angel Fire Community Center will host these free performances at 1 p.m. today and at 1 p.m. Aug. 24.
The trio Time for Three and quintet Imani Winds are the festival’s special guest ensembles. Two student groups from the Curtis Institute of Music, the Pluto Quartet and the Vuilliani Quartet, also perform during the season.