What do Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Chee-Yun, the National Acrobats of Taiwan and Momix all have in common? Here's a hint: The same thing Mischa Elman, Zino Francescatti and William Primrose had in common almost 70 years ago-they are famous performers, at the pinnacle of their respective crafts, brought to Santa Fe through the determination of one small organization.
What began in 1937 under the banner of Columbia Artists Management's Community Concerts is today the Music One Santa Fe Concert Association. Managing Director William Mullen oversees a ***image1***huge annual lineup including Youth Concerts, Holiday Concerts and dance concerts. Significant stuff for any city, especially for one where only about 70,000 people live. And Mullen and the association do it all while reserving the limelight for their performers.
So I've been twitching with excitement knowing that violinist Joshua Bell will be coming to Santa Fe in May, but it hasn't crossed my mind to wonder what force makes such a thing possible. The answer is Music One, an unassuming, eclectic and enthusiastic promoter of performance events.
Most of the concerts and performances take place at The Lensic (though Bell will be at the Santa Fe Opera), where I recently took in the Spoleto Festival USA, a group consisting of Chee-Yun (violinist), Ernesto Diaz (cellist), Todd Palmer (clarinetist), ***image2***Stephen Prutsman (pianist) and Stephen Wadsworth (pianist and artistic director of the group). It was a pretty casual affair, which I wasn't expecting. I walked into the theater prepared for fancy dresses, champagne in fluted glasses, hush. But happily, Wadsworth, who MCed the event, proved a charming, easy host who enjoyed interacting. The audience may as well have been in his living room-his introductions were that welcoming. The music, a sonata for violin and piano composed by Saint-Saens, followed by a Dvorak composition demanding piano for four hands, was played with elegance and skill, but also joy, evident in every movement.
This week, Music One's efforts continue with both pianist Louis Lortie and the Momix Dance Company filling The Lensic. Lortie will perform Schubert, Lizst, Berlioz, Lachenmann and Ravel, while Momix offers their much celebrated and explosive movement-based meditation on America, Baseball. After that only a few events remain, but now that I've found the promoter behind the performers, maybe I'll look into a subscription for 2005/2006.