LAS VEGAS, NM – The New Mexico Museum of Art and the Santa Fe Community Orchestra will showcase their American Modernism program in Highlands University’s Ilfeld Auditorium Oct. 18.
The free concert and lecture will include selected images from the art museum’s current exhibition, An American Modernism, along with orchestral performances of American music from the 1920s and 1930s.
“Music of this time was the beginning of jazz’ influence on classical music,” said Oliver Prezant, the music director and conductor for the Santa Fe Community Orchestra. “It’s a time when American popular music and classical music meet up in a big way.”
During the performance, Prezant and New Mexico Museum of Art Curator Kate Ware will share insights on the relationship between the artwork and the music.
“We’re going to bring people inside the music, the art, and the time,” Prezant said. “It’s partly about every day life at this time: life in the big city, trains, industry, as well as the influence of the west and folk traditions.”
The impact of modern-era composers still reverberates today.
“The reality is some of the music you experience on TV and movies, from romantic comedy to horror to detective stories, has its beginnings in this time period,” Prezant said. “A chase scene or something that feels edgy and other things that feel fun and jazzy have their roots in this music.”
In the aftermath of the World War I, American artists, writers and composers began to develop a unique voice from their European counterparts.
“Everything was different, and the artists wanted to step up to be as revolutionary as the scientists and industry leaders of the time,” Ware said. “New Mexico plays an important role in this movement, as urban people moved here to look for something authentic. For them, it was a real revelation to connect with what was going on here.
“The time period is interesting because there was so much flux,” Ware said. “Our exhibition focuses on the quest the artists were on to find the American voice.”
The 3 p.m. concert and lecture will feature music of Copland, Still, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Ron Grinage on piano.
The Santa Fe Community Orchestra presents a full season of concerts, special events, and education programs for public school students every year. Its volunteer musicians are from Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Taos, Espanola, and Los Alamos. The orchestra’s concert season is online at www.sfco.org.
An American Modernism will be on display at the New Mexico Museum of Art Oct. 2 – Feb. 21. Museum admission prices and hours are online at www.nmartmuseum.org.
Sponsors for the free Ilfeld concert and lecture include the New Mexico Museum of Art, Franken Companies, New Mexico Highlands University, United World College, Luna Community College, New Mexico Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Santa Fe Community Foundation.