Encore: the 1997 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival CD Sidebar 4: The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival . .
. . . was founded in 1972. During the first season—the summer of 1973—14 artists performed six Sunday concerts in Santa Fe and toured to several New Mexico and eastern Arizona communities. That season, Pablo Casals was the Festival's honorary president, and a 20-year series of Georgia O'Keeffe posters and program covers began. Today, 26 seasons later, the Festival presents over 80 events during its annual summer season—including concerts, adult and youth education/outreach presentations, free open rehearsals, concert previews and roundtable discussions with composers and musicians—in the beautiful Pueblo-styled St. Francis Auditorium of New Mexico's Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe.
The Festival's "Composer-in-Residence" program was inaugurated in 1976 and is designed to encourage communication among composers, musicians, and audiences through premieres of Festival-commissioned works, performances of a composer's other works, and concerts featuring the composer as performer. Resident composers have included Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem, Ellen Taafe Zwillich, John Harbison, and Bright Sheng. As of the 25th-anniversary season in 1997, the Festival had commissioned 23 compositions since 1980, contributing significantly to the 20th-century chamber music repertoire.
The "Music of the Americas" program was begun in 1988 to explore the musical diversity of the Western Hemisphere. After a five-year survey of the music of Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico, the program has evolved into an annual jazz series. Festival ensembles have toured regionally since 1973 and nationally since 1980. Cities visited on the national tours include New York, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle. Regionally, the Festival tours to various New Mexico communities, which, as a rule, have little or no live music to offer their residents. Regional tours offer a concert preview, concert, and youth concert at each location.
Since 1981, Festival performances have been regularly broadcast on national radio networks, including WFMT Fine Arts Network, American Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, and National Public Radio (NPR). Radio series have ranged from 13-week, hour-long broadcasts to selections on NPR's Performance Today.
The Festival maintains a strong tradition of community service including the new "Music In Our Schools" program—an education series for grades K-8 in the Santa Fe Public Schools.
Altogether, the Festival's goal always has been to provide listeners with the finest music of every age performed by both celebrated and emerging artists in the timeless beauty of Santa Fe.