To be a model chamber music festival in a distinctive setting and to be recognized worldwide.
To bring together the world’s finest musicians to perform chamber music in all its forms;
To build a broad and knowledgeable audience of all ages;
To provide diverse educational opportunities; and
To enhance the cultural environment of Santa Fe and New Mexico.
Since it was founded in 1972, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival has become one of the world’s preeminent music festivals, guided by a visionary spirit and dedicated to artistic excellence and innovation. Contributing to its magic is the Festival’s unique Santa Fe setting, nestled amid the timeless splendors of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
With legendary cellist Pablo Casals as honorary president, the Festival’s 1973 inaugural season hosted 14 artists performing six Sunday concerts in Santa Fe and additional appearances in other New Mexico and Arizona communities.
Today, under the spirited artistic leadership of composer/pianist Marc Neikrug, the Festival invites scores of distinguished musicians, along with emerging young talent, during its 6-week season. Thousands of enthusiastic patrons young and old return year after year to enjoy the more than 80 concerts, recitals, youth concerts, and open rehearsals. In addition, in the off-season the Festival reaches out to young people in Santa Fe schools with innovative and inspiring musical adventures.
The Composer-in-Residence program, inaugurated in 1976, encourages 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. Since 1980 the Festival has commissioned 90 works from such eminent composers as Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, John Harbison, Gunther Schuller, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Steven Stucky, Brett Dean, Magnus Lindberg, William Bolcom, Roberto Sierra, and Kaija Saariaho among many others, thereby contributing significantly to contemporary chamber music repertoire.
Concerts take place in the intimate, historic St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art and The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.
Beginning in 1981 Festival performances have been broadcast on national radio networks, including the WFMT Fine Arts Network, American Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, and National Public Radio (NPR). The Festival currently produces a series of 13 hour-long broadcasts distributed by the WFMT Radio Network to radio stations worldwide. Performances are also heard on Performance Today.
The Festival maintains a strong tradition of community service, including the Music in our Schools program—a music education series for grades K–8 in the Santa Fe Public Schools.
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival has garnered enthusiastic acclaim not only from music lovers but also from art aficionados with its 20-year series of collectible posters and program book covers of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings. The tradition continues with other artists, including Dan Namingha, William Lumpkins, Harry Fonsecca, Nils Hogner, Laura Gilpin, William Penhallow Henderson, Emmi Whitehorse, and Jody Naranjo.