Music From Angel Fire returns to Raton

Music From Angel Fire returns to Raton

Tuesday, August 28 with All Star Cast and Program

by Bert Harclerode

RATON — Music From Angel Fire, now in its 35th Season, will return to Raton for two different and diverse programs in August made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Mexico Arts Commission complemented by private citizens and funding agencies.

“The heart and soul of our mission-based work is two-fold, first our world-class concert performances throughout northern New Mexico including commissioned works by many of America’s finest composers in tandem with the classic composers. Equally important is our community commitment witnessed by more than 25 in-school performances featuring our Curtis Institute young artists,” said MFAF Board President Judie Hass. “Highlights of our 35th Anniversary Season include performances by Native American flutist Robert Mirabal, the world-premiere of Andrea Clearfield’s new work Earth Door/ Sky Door, and fanfares commissioned by MFAF over the past 15 years,” said Hass.

“We’re delighted to bring our programs to Raton once again,” said MFAF Artistic Director Ida Kavafian. “While many New Mexicans know Music From Angel Fire (MFAF) for our world-class concert series, MFAF is equally committed to bringing the same quality programs to the youth of northern New Mexico. This plants seeds for the next generation as we develop audiences for the future and instills in our youth an appreciation for an artform made popular by Mozart and other great composers,” said Kavafian.

Tuesday, August 28, 7pm at the Shuler Theater Music From Angel Fire will present Bruce Adolph’s I’m inclined to new music; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Serenade in G Major, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat Major for Strings and Winds, Opus 2.

Composer Bruce Adolph is an artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. “I’m inclined to new music is a jazzy paraphrase of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Just as my title is a sound pun on the Mozart’s German title, the piece is a phrase by phrase encounter with Mozart’s renowned serenade. The better you know the Mozart, the more fun you’ll have with my paraphrase,” said Adolph.

The ever-popular Eine kleine Nachtmusik is Mozart’s final contribution to the serenade genre. We’re not sure why he wrote it nor do we know the piece in its complete form (it once contained a second minuet and trio that have somehow been lost). The work’s scoring raises further questions. Mozart’s manuscript says “2 violins, viola, cello and bass,” which could mean a string quintet or a string orchestra. (These days, Eine kleine Nachtmusik is most frequently performed by string orchestras.) It is odd that there should be such riddles connected to a work that sounds so delightfully unproblematic.

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At first hearing, as well as the one-thousandth time, no music sounds simpler than Eine kleine Nachtmusik. But this is a sophisticated simplicity, which Mozart could achieve only after completing some of his most complex works, such as the operas The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, the great piano concertos and the six string quartets dedicated to Haydn.

With such experiences behind him, Mozart knew how to limit himself to the bare essentials and to say the most with the fewest possible notes. For anyone new to classical music, there is no better place to start. The music student trying to grasp the elements of classical forms (sonata, minuet, and rondo) could hardly find clearer examples.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Septet is one of those rare works that was wildly successful at its first performance and has never ceased to be universal favorite. It was so popular in Beethoven’s time and appeared in so many different arrangements that the composer reportedly couldn’t bear to listen to it any longer. The work follows the traditional six-movement form familiar from Mozart’s divertimentos (fast-slow-minuet-slow-minuet-fast) with the difference that the second minuet is replaced by a Scherzo and both the first and the last movements start with slow introductions. Otherwise, the light divertimento character is maintained throughout, making this composition one of the happiest Beethoven ever wrote.

Music From Angel Fire is funded in part by the New Mexico Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts along with hundreds of citizens and local and regional businesses. For more information visit or call 575-377-3233.

Opus 1 performers include violinist Ida Kavafian, violist Steven Tenenbom, cellist Peter Wiley and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. Courtesy Bert Harclerode