By David Steinberg
The adventurous summer festival known as Music from Angel Fire returns Friday, Aug. 17 with a season-opening concert in Taos.
The 7 p.m. concert at the Taos Center for the Arts features music of Native American flutist Robert Mirabal and W.A. Mozart.
“Robert Mirabal has such a such a positive aura about him,” said festival artistic director Ida Kavafian.
“The last time we had him he made a speech about the festival that brought tears to my eyes. “He spoke about how much he enjoys being part of the festival…He has a spiritual feeling with everything he does.”
Mirabal will be joined by festival musicians.
Because this is MFAF’s 35th season and because Mozart died at the age of 35, the festival is presenting a number of his chamber works, Kavafian said.
Three Mozart pieces are on the opening concert program at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17 at the Taos Center for the Arts. They are his Duo in G minor for Violin and Viola, his Sonata in B-flat major for Bassoon and Cello and his Sonata in F-flat major for Violin and Piano.
The festival will have a second opening concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. This one will be in the Angel Fire Community Center.
The program has Mirabal and festival musicians playing his compositions, a Mozart Trio for Piano and Strings and a work for woodwind quintet by Andrea Clearfield, the festival’s composer in residence.
“We have a rich history of wonderful composers that have been part of our program and Andrea adds her unique style to a formidable group,” Kavafian said.
The Clearfield work, “Compass Kaleidoscope,” was written in 2015 on a commission by the Pennsylvania Quintet. “It’s based on Amish quilt patterns. The patterns affected me structurally but also with their colors,” Clearfield said.
The Triacanthos Quintet, a Young Artists ensemble, will perform it.
“The festival’s Young Artists program has become such an integral part of the festival. I think we’ve done Young Artists for maybe 15 years. This year I am trying to incorporate them a little bit more in our program,” Kavafian said.
The 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19 concert at Angel Fire Baptist Church is “Fanfares and the Sublime Viola Quintets by Mozart.” It is the first of three festival concerts carrying that title. Each will have two of the six Mozart viola quintets and a festival commission by different composers from 2003. There’s a 2 p.m. musical conversation with Jonathan Coopersmith.
The world premiere of Clearfield’s work “Earth Door/Sky Door” will be performed at the 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22 concert in the Angel Fire Community Center. The ensemble Opus One and young flutist Emma Resmini will perform it. The festival commissioned the work; the commission was made possible by the Bruce E. Howden American Composers Project.
Clearfield explained in a phone interview the genesis of the work: “The idea that spurred the creative process is the Tibetan earth door/sky door. It is similar to the Native American dream catcher. It’s an item that draws in negative energy so that the positive can pass through. I though this idea would be fascinating for a chamber music piece.
She said the same idea could apply “to the creative process and how an artist may have many ideas but only certain ideas make it through those doors and be the seed for the piece.” For her, the “doors” open to different colors and textures, sounds and spaciousness.
Clearfield hopes that they will take listeners on their own journey.
On the same program are a Mozart Quartet for Piano and Strings and Dohnanyi’s Quintet for Piano and Strings.
“Earth Door/Sky Door” is also on the 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 program at the Taos Center for the Arts. But this time a group of MFAF Young Artists will perform it.
“ thought maybe it would be good for people to hear it twice or have two opportunities to hear it once. That’s a new thing,” Kavafian said.
On the same program are a Mozart Quintet for Piano and Winds, Debussy’s Syrinx for Solo Flute and Ian Clarke’s “The Great Train Race” for Solo Flute.
The 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24 program has Part 2 of Fanfares and the Sublime Viola Quintets of Mozart. The fanfare is Douglas Lowry’s Five Minutes at a Very High Altitude” and Mozart’s Quintet in C minor for Strings and his Quintet in E-flat major for Strings.
The concert, which is at the United Church of Angel Fire, is preceded by a 7 p.m. musical conversation with Coopersmith.
Another Andrea Clearfield work will be performed at the 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Taos Center for the Arts. Titled “Tse Go La,” it translates from the Tibetan as “At the Threshold of This Life.” The 2012 work was inspired by melodies she heard in treks she made to a remote Himalayan region of Nepal to document indigenous Tibetan music.
In a pre-concert lecture and demonstration, she will discuss the treks and will also play audio and video from field recordings she made. Clearfield will also sing and play piano in the chamber arrangement of the work made for this concert.
(After her MFAF residency, Clearfield will be in Santa Fe for the month of September, the recipient of a fellowship from the Women’s International Study Center.
Beginning in October and through next spring, she will be composer in residence with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra.)
Also on the Aug. 25 program are Mozart’s Concerto No. 20 in D minor for Piano and Chamber Ensemble and selections from a “West Side Story” suite for violin and piano. Aug. 25 is the anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth.
Here are the remaining MFAF 2018 concerts:
—3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26 at Ilfeld Auditorium, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas. Music of Mozart, Barber and Brahms.
—7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Shuler Theater, Raton. Music of Mozart, Beethoven and Bruce Adolphe.
—10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at the Taos Center for the Arts. Free Youth and Family Concert.
—10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30 at Eagle Nest Elementary School, Eagle Nest. Free Youth and Family Concert.
—7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30 at United Church of Angel Fire. Part 3 of Fanfares and the Sublime Viola Quintets of Mozart. The fanfare is by Bruce Adolphe. He wrote “Angel Fanfare” under a 2003 MFAF commission. Coopersmith will host a pre-concert musical conversation at 7 p.m.
—2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Angel Fire Community Center. It is the annual Salon Concert. Program to be announced from the stage.