Mis­sion: Ex­panded

Per­for­mance Santa Fe

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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

James Ehnes

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