Mu­si­cal en­ergy in all di­rec­tions

Pasatiempo - - Linda Raney - Michael Wade Simp­son For The New Mex­i­can

Some artists are dream­ers; oth­ers are lead­ers. Linda Raney, who re­ceives a Mayor’s Recog­ni­tion Award for Ex­cel­lence in the Arts on Thurs­day, Oct. 21, for her con­tri­bu­tions to the mu­si­cal life of the city, is among the lat­ter. Raney di­rects three choral groups, is mu­sic di­rec­tor and or­gan­ist at First Pres­by­te­rian Church, puts to­gether bell choirs and drum­ming groups, and teaches harp­si­chord in her spare time. Come De­cem­ber, her high sea­son, it is all she can do to be in the right place at the right time with the right mu­sic. “A goal is to learn to pace one­self more gra­ciously,” she told Pasatiempo. “It can get very in­tense.”

The Mayor’s Awards also honor the Santa Fe Chil­dren’s Mu­seum, Santa Fe New Mu­sic, painter Dar­ren Vigil Gray, and poet Miriam Sa­gan, founder of Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s cre­ative-writ­ing pro­gram. Kin­sey Spude, a young filmmaker and se­nior at Desert Academy, re­ceives the Melissa Enge­strom Youth Artist Award.

Raney loves be­ing an or­gan­ist as much as she loves di­rect­ing choral groups. To watch her be­hind the key­board of the re­cently in­stalled re­place­ment pipe or­gan at First Pres­by­te­rian (“a glo­ri­ous in­stru­ment,” she said) is to un­der­stand some­thing more about Raney’s per­son­al­ity. Han­dling mul­ti­ple key­boards, hit­ting but­tons and tabs (called stops), and step­ping her way through a boom­ing bass line on the ped­als is work, but it’s also a joy. “It’s fun to play with both the hands and the feet,” she said.

Raney re­ceived her doc­tor­ate in or­gan and re­li­gious stud­ies from In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity. She moved to Santa Fe with her hus­band, Ray­mond, in 1985. Af­ter play­ing the or­gan at St. Bede’s Epis­co­pal Church, di­rect­ing a woman’s cho­rus in Al­bu­querque, and teach­ing at Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege for sev­eral years, she re­ceived job of­fers from First Pres­by­te­rian Church, then the Santa Fe Women’s En­sem­ble, and fi­nally the Santa Fe Sym­phony Or­ches­tra & Cho­rus. “Per­haps I do tend to over­work,” she said. “But I love what I do.” She has been at the church for 23 years, with the women’s en­sem­ble for 20, and the sym­phony for 13.

In spite of her sched­ule, Raney says it’s im­pos­si­ble not to get ex­cited by all the pos­si­bil­i­ties in Santa Fe. “I think of this com­mu­nity as a hot­bed,” she said. “Peo­ple I come into con­tact with are so in­spir­ing.” Dur­ing the sum­mer, church ser­vices at First Pres­by­te­rian in­clude soloists from the ranks of the ap­pren­tice singers at Santa Fe Opera. A pop­u­lar TGIF se­ries at First Pres­by­te­rian of­fers short Fri­day af­ter-work con­certs that fea­ture a ro­tat­ing lineup of groups, in­clud­ing flute choirs, cello and pi­ano duos, and young per­form­ers from the Santa Fe Con­cert As­so­ci­a­tion’s EPIK Artist pro­gram for tal­ented vo­cal­ists, dancers, and in­stru­men­tal­ists.

“The neat thing about mu­si­cal groups is that they are a metaphor for what com­mu­nity can be like,” Raney said. “Mu­sic brings to­gether peo­ple of var­i­ous back­grounds. Mu­sic is ed­i­fy­ing and in­spir­ing. It’s a model for what the world can be like.”

Linda Raney; above, Raney in Glouces­ter, Mas­sachusetts, play­ing the or­gan now in First Pres­by­te­rian Church; op­po­site page, Raney with the Santa Fe Women’s En­sem­ble in Italy, 2008

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