Performance Santa Fe
Performance Santa Fe
Performance Santa Fe was reborn in April 2014, having by then operated for 77 years under the names Santa Fe Community Concert Association (from 1937 through 1973) and Santa Fe Concert Association (from 1973 on). At the time of the 2014 name change, Joseph Illick, then the group’s artistic director and now its general director, acknowledged in an interview with The Santa Fe New
Mexican that the word “concert” fell short of suggesting the breadth of the outfit’s presentations. Those have expanded considerably since the organization was created to serve as a local stop on the touring circuit of Columbia Artists Management’s Community Concerts, whose offerings were indeed almost entirely in the area of classical music.
The 79th season of Performance Santa Fe (PSF) is now underway, and the 2015-2016 offerings vindicate the name change. The season’s initial offerings, in early August, were indeed classical music concerts, the three recitals of what now seems firmly established as an annual “Festival of Song” series. But then the schedule leapt immediately into the realm of the dance — and leapt is definitely the word, to judge from the two entertaining and energetic mid-August evenings spotlighting Stars of American Ballet, an incentive directed by Daniel Ulbricht, a principal dancer of New York City Ballet and a luminary in the field of dance education. At the second of their performances, Illick announced from the stage that the group would be returning again next year.
This week, PSF presents its opening orchestral concert, essentially launching the traditional fall-through-spring season. This would have been the true season opener in the olden days, before the organization began to target and tap the audiences that flow into town for the summer festival riches. Now it is already the group’s sixth event of the season.
In this concert, which takes place on Sunday, Aug. 30, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, Illick will conduct the Performance Santa Fe Orchestra (a freelance group the organization assembles several times each season) in an all-Tchaikovsky program. Tchaikovsky enjoys evergreen popularity with a large swath of the concert audience, thanks at least partly to his overt emotional stance and his status as an exemplar of the grand Romantic tradition. Canadian violinist James Ehnes will appear as the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, a work that is very familiar today but had to overcome resistance when it was new. Violinist Leopold Auer, who was supposed to be the soloist for its premiere, declared it unplayable — although he eventually changed his mind and did end up programming it some years later. In 1881, the piece received a less than glowing review from the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick following its first performance: “The violin is no longer played; it is pulled, torn, drubbed. … Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto gives us for the first time the hideous notion that there can be music that stinks to the ear.”
Violinists have viewed it more sympathetically in the 134 years since, and so does Illick, who characterized the piece as “a bit of a lark for Tchaikovsky.” He also expressed enthusiasm about working with
Joseph Illick and the Performance Santa Fe Orchestra