by Bach, Vivaldi, Rameau, and Teleman. Traditional carols are also part of the program.
The New Year sees the return of Pro Musica’s Classical Weekend, held at the end of January. “This is a big project, and a big deal, for us,” O’Connor said. “This year we wanted to focus on Beethoven’s output from the time when the Classical era came to an end and Beethoven almost single-handedly ushered in the Romantic era.” The programming “features two of Beethoven’s symphonies — the sixth (his ‘ Pastoral’) and the seventh — and two soloists, pianist Per Tengstrand and violinist Colin Jacobsen.” Performing these great symphonic works with a chamber-sized orchestra is one of the things O’Connor is most looking forward to this season. “I think you get more transparency when you play with this size of an ensemble,” he said. “There’s less of a blend because you have fewer players. The smaller the ensemble, the larger the space is that you have to fill. In a bigger orchestra, there are places where you can hide, so I like chamber orchestras because of the transparency and because you can hear the inner voices, so to speak, of a piece much more clearly.”
In February, Pro Musica welcomes the Jasper String Quartet and flutist Redman for the one-night-only Quartets! program, featuring works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven and the New Mexico premiere of a piece by Tao. “Our programming tends to be conservative, but we do have a couple of unique things mixed in, like Conrad’s String Quartet, which was commissioned by Jasper. The fact that they had commissioned him was completely unbeknownst to me, but it’s great for our audience this season to have a chance to hear Conrad as both a pianist and a composer,” O’Connor said.
The penultimate program, in March, called Bach and More, features Redman once again, as well as violinist Stephen Redfield. Johann Sebastian’s Violin Concerto in A Minor is performed along with a work by his second son, C.P.E. Bach, as well as pieces by Britten and Mendelssohn.
And what’s left for the grand finale? An all-American program called Lenny and Friends, said O’Connor. “Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade is a spiky, serious piece of music, but it’s this kind of unmistakable language that American composers — like Bernstein, Copland, and Barber — crafted.” The music on this program, which includes Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Strings and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, “is uniquely our classical music,” O’Connor continued. “We wanted to celebrate the fact that, as American artists, we have a point of view, and that comes from living here and being a part of this society and culture.
Ending the season with these great American works fits in with O’Connor’s overall vision for Pro Musica and what the orchestra brings to the local community. “The mission is to play great music and, as a group, to play at the highest level possible. I’m not really interested in uncovering secondary composers or lesser works by great composers. And while this can be perceived as being limited in my ideas, I think it’s important that we have a point of view — that we focus on performing the greatest music that we can with the resources we have. We want the music to speak to our audience.”