Chamber music concert with a twist

Taos Chamber Music Group delivers Chatter-style concert with featured poet Olivia Romo

By Ariana Kramer
Posted 1/9/19

The program is modeled after the Chatter programs of Albuquerque and SITE Santa Fe, and includes innovative contemporary chamber music, poetry and a planned pause for silence.

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Chamber music concert with a twist

Taos Chamber Music Group delivers Chatter-style concert with featured poet Olivia Romo


The Taos Chamber Music Group's 26th season continues with a program modeled after the Chatter programs of Albuquerque and SITE Santa Fe.

TCMG will present "Good Company with Chatter!" Saturday (Jan. 12) at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux Street. The program includes innovative contemporary chamber music, poetry and a planned pause for silence. Two performances are planned on Saturday, one at 10:30 a.m. and the other at 5:30 p.m.

Chatter's string quartet will play Meredith Monk's "StringSongs," Philip Glass's "Company" String Quartet No. 2 and Gabriela Lena Frank's "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout."

The performing Chatter musicians will be David Felberg (violin/viola), Megan Holland (violin), Kim Fredenburgh (viola) and James Holland (cello). TCMG flutist Nancy Laupheimer will join them for Andrew Norman's "Light Screens." And, Taos poet Olivia Romo will perform her own poetry.

Laupheimer, who is also TCMG's executive director, developed the program together with Felberg, who is one of the two artistic directors for Chatter and a longtime collaborator with the local chamber music group.

"Chatter is a series in Albuquerque that has taken place every Sunday morning for the past 11 years," commented Felberg. "It's a one-hour show, with music, spoken word (usually poetry) and two minutes of silence. It was formerly known as the 'Church of Beethoven,' thus the Sunday morning time slot. The Taos show will be very similar in scope to the shows that we do every Sunday morning, in terms of format and feel."

"The Chatter music series is one that I admire the most," Laupheimer said. "The fact that every Sunday of the year is filled with innovative programs of music and poetry is rather astounding and a real tribute to its artistic directors, James Shields and David Felberg."

Laupheimer said she recently attended a Chatter concert at SITE Santa Fe. "I thought if Chatter is going to Santa Fe, why not bring them to Taos in the same wonderful format?"

Felberg noted that the Taos program will offer a sampling of contemporary composers of the Americas.

"The icon Philip Glass, in his 80s now, is one of the most influential composers of the past 50 years," Felberg said. "Meredith Monk is an iconic avant-garde voice in music and multimedia presentation. Known for composing for extended vocal techniques, here she brings her unique voice to the string quartet medium in a piece that's emotionally charged. Gabriela Lena Frank is a Peruvian composer who blends music from her country with western string quartet tradition in an incredible fusion of techniques and ideas. Andrew Norman's music has been gaining incredible popularity in recent years, with his unique style and voice."

Felberg said that Chatter has always incorporated two minutes of silence into its programs. He said it can be interpreted in many ways - as a moment of contemplation or reflection, or as an "aural 'palate cleanser' " for the rest of the program.

Laupheimer said the "Good Company with Chatter!" program continues the theme of "Beyond Borders," which TCMG presented this past December.

In particular, Frank's "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout," is inspired by the concept of mestizaje as envisioned by the Peruvian writer José María Arguedas. Frank has described Arguedas's concept as multicultural coexistence without subjugation.

Romo, New Mexico's 2011 State Slam Poetry Champion, was invited to collaborate on this program because her work is deeply nourished by, and celebrates, the land and cultures of Taos. She also explores the concept of mestizaje in her work.

Romo said "most if not all of my poetry focuses on my mixed indigeneity and the celebrations of my unique cultural experience growing up in Taos."

Immersed in the regional manito dialect and culture of Northern New Mexico, Romo's work is used to kindle a flame for her listeners - at times her words are a fierce call to action, at others, they are a warm, inviting home fire.

Romo is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at the New Mexico Acequia Association. She was one of four Westerners whose work was included in "Moving Rural Verse," a project of Western Folklife Center which married videography with poetry. Romo's evocative poem-film centers on the beauty and strength of acequia culture.

In 2018, Romo was invited to participate in "Without Borders: Art Sin Fronteras," an art exhibit at El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo, Colo. Curated by Leland Chapin of the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, the exhibit showcases the works of selected contemporary artists from the Colorado-New Mexico border area, including Roxanne Swentzel, Erin Currier and Diego Romero. "Without Borders" will be on exhibit there through March 1.

The poetry Romo has prepared for the TCMG concerts focuses on community, and looks towards a time when different groups can come together while also honoring their diversity and intertwined histories. "There will be a lot of magical realism in the piece I'm going to read," she said. "The animals are going to deliver prophecies and a new people are going to come together in the poem that I will be reading. It's a celebration of mestizaje."

Tickets are $25, and $12 for students. Museum members are asked to inquire about a special discount.

For tickets and more information, visit the Taos Chamber Music Group website at Tickets are also on sale at the Harwood Museum by calling (575) 758-9826.

Lambert's, Doc Martin's, Martyrs and the Gorge Bar and Grill restaurants offer TCMG ticket holders dinner discounts after the concerts.


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