Music from Angel Fire celebrates 30th season with Chick Corea

For three decades Music from Angel Fire has thrilled audiences across Northern New Mexico ...


For three decades Music from Angel Fire has thrilled audiences across Northern New Mexico by bringing internationally renowned chamber musicians to perform works from the great classical, romantic, baroque and contemporary masters.

This year’s composer-in-residence is pianist and composer Chick Corea. At the 2013 Grammys, Corea won two awards, his 19th and 20th so far. Corea will perform the world premiere of a new composition Aug. 21, part of this year’s festival.

The 30th anniversary season of Music from Angel Fire begins this week and continues through Sept. 1 with concerts in Angel Fire, Taos, Raton and Las Vegas. The festival includes 15 chamber music concerts as well as the “Music in Our Schools” program with a series of performances by the Music from Angel Fire’s Young Artist Program.

The “Traveling Through Styles” concert opens the season Friday (Aug. 16) at 7 p.m. at the Angel Fire Community Center, 15 CS Ranch Road in Angel Fire. The evening includes Mozart’s “Trio in C Major for Piano and Strings, K. 548” and two Corea compositions.

Saturday (Aug. 17) a concert titled “Bookending Two Masters” will be performed at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Sur. The concert includes two pieces by Mozart, “Trio in G Major for Piano and Strings, K. 564” and “Quintet in G Minor for Strings, K. 516” and a composition by Corea.

Performers are Anne-Marie McDermott (piano), Ida Kavafian (violin), Peter Wiley (cello), Chick Corea (piano), Gayle Morean Corea (vocals) and Harlem Quartet with Ilmar Gavilán and Melissa White (violin), Jaime Amador (viola), and Matthew Zalkind (cello). Tickets are $30, available at the door or in advance by calling (888) 377-3300 or visiting

Award-winning composer

Corea is the fourth-most-nominated artist in the history of the Grammys, with 61 nominations. He has earned more awards than any artist in the Best Instrumental Album category. For four decades, Corea has honed his mastery of music across genres from avant-garde to children’s songs to bebop, fusion and chamber music.

Wednesday (Aug. 21), the world premiere of Corea’s piece “Not Serious Music” for piano, clarinet, violin and cello will be performed at 7 p.m. at the Angel Fire Community Center. Tickets are $30, available in advance by calling (888) 377-3300 or visiting

The piece was commissioned by and is dedicated to Music from Angel Fire with the support of the Bruce E. Howden Jr., American Composers Project and Friends of the Festival. Mozart’s “Quintet in A Major for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581” and Turina’s La Oración del Torero, Op. 34” are also on the program.

Performing Corea’s new piece are Corea himself, Richard Stoltzman, Ida Kavafian, and Fred Sherry. The four musicians are longtime friends, and it was because of this connection that Corea accepted the invitation to join Music from Angel Fire this season.

“I met Chick in the ’70s when we became fans of each other’s groups and music,” Kavafian said. “He attended concerts I gave with my group Tashi and I was a big admirer of a number of his groups and projects. The first time he wrote for strings was a session I did with him, which was on an album that really became an icon in the business, called ‘The Leprechaun,’ way back in 1976.”

Kavafian, who is the artistic director for Music from Angel Fire, said she subsequently toured with Corea around the world and recorded a number of his works.

“It was a marvel to see him and hear him night after night, giving everything he had every time he played.”

Through thick and thin

When Corea accepted Kavafian’s proposal to be the festival’s Composer-in-Residence, she was thrilled. “I wanted something special for our 30th year and to my delight, he accepted the proposal. We decided to make a reunion of my old Tashi group, but with Chick at the piano instead of our original pianist, Peter Serkin.”

The other members of Tashi were Kavafian, Richard Stoltzman and Fred Sherry.

“Thirty years is a milestone I couldn’t have imagined when I started 29 years ago! I’m so proud that the festival has shown this longevity, especially in these tough economic times,” says Kavafian. “These musicians play on the biggest international stages, but find time to come to Angel Fire each summer. New Mexico has become like a second home to us, and we treasure all the time we have spent out here.”

Of the pieces Kavafian selected for this season’s concert, she said she “selected some warhorses of the chamber music repertoire — 30 works that I feel are not just popular, but also great.”

“Those two don’t always go together,” she added.

Kavafian was a founding member of Tashi and has toured and recorded with the Guarneri, Orion and American Quartets as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She was the violinist of the Beaux Arts Trio for six years, during which time they were nominated for a Grammy award.

In recent years, Kavafian co-founded the ensemble Opus One with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Peter Wiley. Kavafian is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute and the new Conservatory of Music at Bard College, and has served on numerous competition juries and boards, including Chamber Music America.

For more information, call (575) 377-1544. For a complete schedule of Music from Angel Fire concerts, visit


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment