In The Press

Praise for the Taos Chamber Music Group!

"One of the great treasures of Taos" -The Taos News
"Big magic...silken ensemble playing"
-Albuquerque Journal
“A remarkable concert of juxtaposed styles”
-Horse Fly
“Depth, vitality and inventiveness”
-Spencer Beckwith, KUNM
Taos Chamber Music Group launches New Year with Chatter!

The Taos Chamber Music Group launches the New Year with a presentation of “Chatter in Taos” on Saturday and Sunday, January 11 and 12 at the Harwood Museum at 5:30 p.m. This is the second collaboration with David Felberg’s innovative series based in Albuquerque where concerts are presented every Sunday at 10:30, with monthly performances at SITE Santa Fe. TCMG Director Nancy Laupheimer wanted to add an annual Chatter concert in Taos, using a similar format of music accompanied by a ten minute poetry reading and a two-minute “celebration of silence.”

The Taos program will feature string quartets by Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Caroline Shaw, John Luther Adams and John Coolidge Adams. The Chatter quartet is comprised of Felberg and Carla Kountoupes on violins, Laura Steiner, viola and Dana Winograd on cello. Laupheimer, who is also TCMG’s flutist, will join them for Yuko Uebayashi’s “Misericordia.” Well-known Taos News writer Ariana Kramer is the featured poet.

“This season,” says Laupheimer of TCMG’s 27th,” I have focused a lot of our programing on the music of living composers as well as younger players. This one is no exception, and I am excited to bring these compelling compositions to Taos audiences who are always so delighted by TCMG’s musical adventures. It is also an opportunity to connect with the amazing photographs of Alaska by Subhankar Banerjee that are featured at the Harwood Museum.”

One of the main compositions on the program - and one which has informed Ariana Kramer’s choice of poems - is called the “The Wind in High Places” by John Luther Adams. Adams lived in Alaska for most of his adult life, and his music has been so deeply connected to its landscape that he has called it “sonic geography.” “Become Ocean,” an orchestral work, won him the Pulitzer in 2014, and several of his other pieces are based on elements, such as air and earth. “The Wind in High Places” is Adams’ first string quartet (composed at age 59) and is inspired by favorite camping places that he shared with a dear friend who passed away. Adams compares his compositional process to "primitive man discovers fire." An otherworldly, spatial, atmospheric effect is created by having the entire piece played with natural harmonics and open strings, the string players’ fingers never touching the fingerboards. Adams wrote: “If I could’ve found a way to make this music without them touching the instruments at all, I would have.”

Preceding the piece, Kramer will read a group of poems called ““Ancestors Speak: Four Elemental Poems.” These are found poems on “Fire,” “Air,” “Earth” and “Water” based on text fragments from “Teutonic Mythologie,” first published in 1835. Penned by Jacob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm), the tome was an effort to record the beliefs and spiritual practices of the ancient Germanic peoples prior to the introduction of Christianity.

Another string quartet on the program by another John (Coolidge) Adams is serendipitously called “Fellow Traveler.” Adams is one of the most-performed American composers alive today. He wrote “Fellow Traveler” for the 50th birthday of his long-time opera collaborator, Peter Sellars. Sellars worked with Adams on the politically charged opera “Nixon in China,” and the quartet references themes from its first act with a relentless, exuberant rhythmic propulsion.

Two string quartets by Caroline Shaw, “Punctum” and Valencia,” will open the program. Shaw is the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music which she received in 2013 at age 30. She studied at Rice, Yale, and Princeton universities, and currently teaches at New York University. She is also a Creative Associate at the Juilliard School and has held residencies at Dumbarton Oaks, the Banff Centre, Music on Main, and the Vail Dance Festival.

With a wry sense of humor, she describes “Punctum” as “an exercise in nostalgia, inspired by Roland Barthes’ description of the “unexpected” in photographs and in particular by his extended description of the elusive ‘Winter Garden’ photo…One could also say the piece is about the sensation of a particular secondary dominant in Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion.’” “Valencia” comes out of Shaw’s deep appreciation for the simplicity and complexity of a Valencia orange. Musically she conveys this with “billowing harmonics and somewhat viscous chords and melodies. It is also a kind of celebration of awareness of the natural, unadorned food that is still available to us.”

A frequent composer of music for flute, Yuko Uebayasi is another female composer whose “Misericordia” was written for flutist Carol Wincenc in 2013. Uebeyash received a composition diploma at the Kyoto Municipal University of the Arts, but has lived in Paris since 1998 and looks toward the Western classical music tradition for inspiration. Her music is melodious and magical and has been called ‘fairy-tale’ music. “Misericordia” (Mercy) traverses the months of the year with titles such as “Awakening,” Bursting with Life” and “Turning to the Light.”

The Chatter quartet will bring some new faces to Taos, including Laura Steiner on viola. A 26 year-old graduate student at UNM, she has already made a place for herself in the New Mexico music scene as a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and a teacher of violin, viola, and music theory. Steiner also performs with the Santa Fe Symphony and Performance Santa Fe, and has been featured as a soloist with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony, the New Mexico Philharmonic, the Masterworks Festival Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Alabama Huxford Symphony Orchestra.

Another newcomer to TCMG’s roster is violinist Carla Kountoupes who is a member of the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Opera Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra and Piazzolla da Camera Piano Trio. She has toured and performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles in Central America, Taiwan, Germany and throughout the US, and was a member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco and the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory (Violin Performance) and Oberlin College (English Literature), she has worked in many genres in addition to classical, including Latin/world, alt-rock/pop, and jazz. Her violin was made in the 1740’s and was inherited from her grandfather.

For tickets and more information, visit the Taos Chamber Music Group website at Tickets are also on sale at the Harwood Museum, 758-9826, where there is a discount for museum members. Lambert's Doc Martin's, Martrys and the Gorge Bar and Grill restaurants offer TCMG ticket holders dinner discounts after the concerts.


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