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Symphony Performs ‘Viennese Joy’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Vittorio Monti’s piece “Czardas,” written for violin solo and orchestra, is a work that Guillermo Figueroa has been playing since he was 7 years old.

“My father had me play the piece in front of people, often at family gatherings, with my sister accompanying me on the piano,” Figueroa said. “Curiously, through all these years, I’ve never played it with an orchestra.”

Figueroa will get his chance to play “Czardas” with the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra during the ensemble’s “Viennese Joy” concert Sunday. It’s a performance of classical and popular Viennese music that Figueroa, the former director of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and founder of The Figueroa Project, also conducts.

If you go
WHAT: Santa Fe Symphony: “Viennese Joy” with guest conductor and violin soloist Guillermo Figueroa
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St.
COST: $20-$70
CONTACT: 505-983-1414; 505-988-1234

“The first half of the concert is classical Viennese music,” he explained. “Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart, whose works are played in the first half, are part of the Viennese school. The first half ends with me playing ‘Czardas,’ which gives the audience a taste of what’s happening in the second half.”

“Czardas” is a piece of Hungarian folk music that starts out slowly and ends with lots of passion, fire and virtuosic playing.

“The concert begins with elegant ballroom music and then moves into the kind of popular music found in cafes,” Figueroa added.

It may be difficult for some audience members to hear the symphony play “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss II in the second half of the program without humming along.

“There is the main tune that everyone knows,” Figueroa said. “But there are other, equally famous tunes in the piece. I think many people will recognize all the notes.”

“Pizzicato Polka” by Strauss and Strauss’ brother Josef Strauss, “Gold and Silver Waltz” by Franz Lehár, “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C Minor” by Franz Liszt and “Poet and Peasant Overture” by Franz Von Suppéwill complete the program.

In addition to “Czardas,” Figueroa solos in Beethoven’s “Romance in F Major for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 50.”

The music director of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado and principal guest conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony, Figueroa is also an active solo violinist who performed in Carnegie Hall in New York in 2003 and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2004. Since 1995 he has premiered four violin concertos written for him, including “Violin Concerto” by Miguel del Aguila, which was commissioned by Figueroa and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in 2008.

His latest endeavor, The Figueroa Project, is a nonprofit organization in Albuquerque that is committed to participating in collaborative projects centered on music but also featuring dance, film and the spoken word.

Upcoming presentations by The Fugueroa Project include a chamber music concert and a concert featuring actors, dancers and chamber music at the Kimo Theater as well as two chamber music concerts at Robertson Violin Shop in Albuquerque.