Highlands University Music Professor Guest Soloist at Austrian Classical Music Festival

New Mexico Highlands University


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Highlands University Music Professor Guest Soloist at Austrian Classical Music Festival


New Mexico Highlands University music professor Andre Garcia-Nuthmann was a guest soloist in August at the world-renowned Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria.

Garcia-Nuthmann was also a guest soloist at the festival in 1999 and 2007. The Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt is in its 34th year, and is Austria’s longest running and most successful summer music program.   

This year, the festival celebrated the 200-year-anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn, an Austrian who was one of the most prominent and prolific composers of the classical period. He composed in Eisenstadt and is often called “The Father of the Symphony.”

“This Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt is an incredible opportunity for any musician who’s serious about classical music,” said Garcia-Nuthmann, who heads the Department of Music at Highlands University and directs the choral program. “They’ve created concert venues in the environment where the music was composed, and it’s just extraordinary historically. It was an exhilarating, inspirational experience.

“You have to be completely focused when you step on stage to perform but I did take a moment to think about how awesome it was to be singing where Haydn composed his music and died 200 years ago,” Garcia-Nuthmann said.

He performed two tenor solos, including Haydn’s oratorio for the Seven Last Words of Christ, the grand finale of the festival. Garcia-Nuthmann also soloed in Haydn’s Mass in B Flat.  

Garcia-Nuthmann performed the solos in German, a language he learned from his German-born mother. He is tri-lingual, having also learned Spanish as a child from his paternal grandmother.

Garcia-Nuthmann performed in an ornate auditorium in the Esterhazy Palace, which Haydn himself designed. The Esterhazy’s were wealthy Hungarian nobles with a large estate in Eisenstadt. Haydn became the musical director for the Esterhazy court in 1766, and spent much of his musical career employed as the family’s court musician.  

“The Haydn auditorium in Esterhazy Palace is so beautiful, with incredible murals that bring you back to a different place and time,” he said.

Garcia-Nuthmann joined the Highlands University faculty in 1990 and was named professor of the year in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. in vocal performance from Arizona State University and holds a master’s degree in piano performance.

He said he was thrilled in 2007 when his Highlands University Madrigal Choir also performed at the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt.

“I always dreamed of taking one of my choirs to perform in Europe and it was so exciting to share that experience with them,” Garcia-Nuthmann said. “I was very proud of their performance in the Haydn auditorium. The conductor complimented them for being well prepared and their German diction. They were named a choir in residence, a real honor. They also performed in what was once the private chapel of the Esterhazy family.”

Garcia-Nuthmann said he hopes fundraising efforts will make it possible for another Highlands University choir to participate in the Classical Musical Festival in Eisenstadt. The festival paid his expenses this year because he was a guest soloist.

In November, the university’s Concert Choir will present a Mendelssohn/Haydn concert in collaboration with the Santa Fe Symphony. Two university music students will be featured as soloists along with Garcia-Nuthmann, including Karliz DeMarco and Stephanie Salas. Music graduate Devin Barad will also be a soloist.

The fundraising concert will be Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. in the historic Ilfeld Auditorium on the university’s campus. For more information, call the Music Department at 505-454-3359.