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EBy Ari­ana Kramer ach year, as part of its sea­sonal pro­gram­ming, the Taos Cham­ber Music Group high­lights a young mu­si­cian or mu­si­cians.

This year, “Play it For­ward” fea­tures 17-year-old Santa Fe vi­o­lin­ist Phoenix Avalon.

For the past three years, Avalon has lived in Cleve­land, Ohio to at­tend the Cleve­land In­sti­tute of Music Young Artist Pro­gram with Jaime Laredo. Avalon is and has al­ways been home-schooled. He grad­u­ates this spring and plans to at­tend the pres­ti­gious Juil­liard School of Music start­ing this fall for which he has a full four-year schol­ar­ship to study with Itzhak Perl­man and Li Lin. Phoenix Avalon per­forms in the TCMG’s “Play it For­ward” con­certs Saturday and Sunday (April 14-15), 5:30 p.m. both days, at the Har­wood Mu­seum of Art, 238 Le­doux Street. For the pro­gram, Avalon will play the solo vi­o­lin “Sara­bande” from J.S. Bach’s D mi­nor “Par­tita,” and be joined by TCMG mem­bers De­bra Ayers (pi­ano), Sally Guen­ther (cello) and Nancy Laupheimer (flute) in works by Jo­hannes Brahms (Vi­o­lin Sonata No. 1), As­tor Pi­az­zolla (“Four Sea­sons of Buenos Aires” for pi­ano trio) and the young Rus­sian com­poser, Alexey Kur­ba­tov (“Quar­tet” for flute, vi­o­lin, cello and pi­ano).

Born in 1983, Rus­sian com­poser Alexey Kur­ba­tov wrote his first piece at 5 years old, fol­lowed by a bal­let at age 6, ac­cord­ing to TCMG Di­rec­tor and flutist Nancy Laupheimer. He gave his first con­cert as a com­poser in the Or­gan Hall of the Glinka Mu­si­cal Cul­ture Mu­seum when he was 11. Also an ac­com­plished pian­ist, Kur­ba­tov grad­u­ated from the Moscow Con­ser­va­tory and has per­formed around the world.

He has writ­ten six sym­phonies, an opera, a dozen sym­phonic po­ems, many cham­ber and vo­cal pieces and music scores for film and the­ater. His pas­sion­ate “Quar­tet” for flute, vi­o­lin, cello and pi­ano was writ­ten in 2013, and since its Moscow pre­miere, it has been per­formed in Aus­tralia, Ger­many, Hol­land, Canada, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Rus­sia, the United States, Tur­key, France, Switzer­land, South Africa, South Korea and Ja­pan.

“To be able to en­cour­age young artists to be part of this music mak­ing that we so cher­ish is not only a great treat for us and our au­di­ences, but it pro­vides pro­fes­sional op­por­tu­ni­ties for young play­ers and com­posers,” Laupheimer said. “We are es­pe­cially grate­ful to the spon­sor­ship of Nina’s Fund, which was estab­lished in mem­ory of Nina Nilssen, a very tal­ented young Taos com­poser and mu­si­cian.” Nina’s Fund’s mis­sion is to em­power in­di­vid­u­als through char­i­ta­ble giv­ing in the ar­eas of the arts, hu­man­i­tar­ian and so­cial jus­tice ef­forts, as well as projects that ad­dress vi­o­lence against women, ac­cord­ing to its web­site at ni­nas­fund.org/ about.

Although young, Avalon has had many no­table mu­si­cal achieve­ments. He made his de­but with the Cleve­land Pops Or­ches­tra in Jan­uary 2017 as win­ner of the Jean L. Petitt Memo­rial Schol­ar­ship Com­pe­ti­tion. In Fe­bru­ary 2017, he per­formed with the Ara­pa­hoe Phil­har­monic, and in March 2017 he placed third at the Tri­en­nial Jo­hansen In­ter­na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion.

Last Septem­ber, Avalon was fea­tured in a “TedxAbq” talk. Next month, Avalon’s Cleve­land In­sti­tute of Music string quar­tet will per­form in the Fischoff Na­tional Cham­ber Music Com­pe­ti­tion. Avalon will also play the Brahms “Vi­o­lin Con­certo” with the Boul­der Sym­phony this May.

“Ev­ery year since I was 11 I have per­formed a full con­certo with the Boul­der Sym­phony,” said Avalon in an email in­ter­view with Tempo. “Per­form­ing a con­certo with or­ches­tra is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and go­ing through all the prepa­ra­tion nec­es­sary and then be­ing able to per­form it as it was in­tended to be played is in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing.” Avalon has re­cently re­turned to New Mex­ico from Tel Aviv fol­low­ing his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Perl­man Music Pro­gram, which he has also at­tended in the sum­mer in New York. “Last sum­mer I was ac­cepted and at­tended the Perl­man Music Pro­gram on Shel­ter Is­land. PMP is a seven-week sum­mer music pro­gram con­sist­ing of about 30 vi­o­lin, vi­ola, cello, and bass stu­dents. It of­fers pri­vate lessons, cham­ber music and or­ches­tra, all di­rected by Itzhak and Toby Perl­man, as well as many other Juil­liard fac­ulty.

“In ad­di­tion to the sum­mer pro­gram, PMP has a win­ter res­i­dency in Sarasota, Florida and a spring res­i­dency in Tel Aviv, Is­rael, both of which I at­tended this year. PMP of­fers life­time men­tor­ship and community, and I’m thrilled to be go­ing back to Shel­ter Is­land again this sum­mer!”

Avalon has per­formed on na­tional ra­dio shows “Per­for­mance To­day” and “From the Top.” As a soloist, he has played with the New Mex­ico Phil­har­monic, the Boul­der Sym­phony, Per­for­mance Santa Fe and at Mead­ow­mount School of Music pub­lic con­certs in up­state New York. In en­sem­ble, he has per­formed with Ser­e­nata of Santa Fe.

Among his many awards, Avalon is a five­time re­cip­i­ent of the Per­for­mance Santa Fe Davis Award, a five-year re­cip­i­ent of Star­ling Foun­da­tion grants for study at the Mead­ow­mount School of Music and the re­cip­i­ent of a Jack Kent Cooke Schol­ar­ship. “I first wanted to play the vi­o­lin when I was one and a half years old,” Avalon said. “My par­ents took me to a Haydn-in-the-Park con­cert where they pro­vided frac­tional [size] in­stru­ments for chil­dren in the au­di­ence to try out. Af­ter the per­for­mance, I im­me­di­ately went over to the ta­ble with the vi­o­lins and told my par­ents ‘I love the li­olin’ (I couldn’t pro­nounce V’s yet) and asked if I could learn it. Since the ear­li­est you can start learn­ing the vi­o­lin is three, my par­ents promised that if I still wanted to play when I was three they would get me lessons. Of course, I don’t re­ally re­mem­ber this be­cause I was only one and a half, but ever since then, the vi­o­lin has been my life, and I have never thought about spend­ing my life do­ing any­thing other than play­ing the vi­o­lin.”

Avalon’s love of Bach will be on dis­play in the “Sara­bande” from the “D mi­nor Par­tita for solo vi­o­lin,” which will open the sec­ond half of the con­certs, Laupheimer states in a press re­lease. In sharp stylis­tic con­trast will be the fiery fi­nale, Ar­gen­tine tango com­poser As­tor Pi­az­zolla’s “Cu­a­tro Esta­ciones Porteñas.” The ti­tle, which trans­lates “Four Sea­sons of Buenos Aires,” calls to mind Vi­valdi’s iconic con­cer­tos, the “Four Sea­sons.” Nev­er­the­less, the move­ments of Pi­az­zolla’s piece were not ini­tially con­ceived of as a suite. “Spring” was com­posed in 1965; “Au­tumn” in 1969; and “Sum­mer” and “Win­ter” in 1970. They were orig­i­nally scored for Pi­az­zolla’s group of vi­o­lin (vi­ola), pi­ano, elec­tric gui­tar, double bass and ban­do­neon (a type of ac­cor­dion that was the prin­ci­pal instrument of the tango). The pi­ano trio ver­sion is by José Bra­gato, a cel­list who of­ten per­formed with Pi­az­zolla.

Tick­ets are $25 for adults, $12 for stu­dents, avail­able in ad­vance at taoscham­ber mu­sic­group.

org, at the Har­wood Mu­seum or (575) 7589826. There is a dis­count for mu­seum mem­bers, and to con­cert go­ers af­ter the per­for­mances at Doc Martin’s, Mar­tyrs, the Gorge Bar & Grill and Lambert’s restau­rants.

Cour­tesy photo YOUTH VI­O­LIN­IST Phoenix Avalon


CEL­LIST Sally Guen­ther


PI­ANIST De­bra Ay­ers


TAOS CHAM­BER Mu­sic Group Di­rec­tor Nancy Laupheimer


COM­POSER Alexey Kur­ba­tov

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