The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s Young Composers String Quartet Project, a program that Artistic Director Marc Neikrug holds very near to his heart, began in 2013.
Aspiring composers spend a week in Santa Fe with Marc Neikrug —a composer of five string quartets himself – serving as mentor and advisor and the FLUX Quartet being the “sounding board” providing feedback from the performers’ point of view and turning the notes on the manuscript paper into actual music. Another valuable aspect of the experience is the opportunity for the composers to meet with music publishers who share insights into how the music business works—from publishing to performances to recordings.
The culminating event of the week is the public performance of the brand-new string quartets by the FLUX Quartet at St. Francis Auditorium.
Though there are a few other programs for young composers around the country, the fundamental Santa Fe difference is that the project here is spearheaded by a composer. Performances of commissioned works and other new music by living composers are vital parts of the Festival’s repertoire. Participants from previous years have said that they loved being in a place that respected them as composers.
Offering a respite from the rigors of the project, Marc spends a relaxing day with the composers showing them the beauty and cultural amenities of Santa Fe. He says that “by end of their week, they feel as if they’ve had a fantastic experience. They have composed and heard their piece; they have recordings of it; they worked with great musicians; and they got paid! Now they can go back to the real-world challenge of being young composers; but over the course of their week with us they’ve at least had a glimpse of what the profession CAN be.”
The Young Composers String Quartet Project was one of the most artistically rewarding experiences of my life. The FLUX Quartet interpreted my music skillfully and sensitively and created a positive environment for exploration and constructive feedback. The Festival was extremely welcoming and supportive. This was an incredible opportunity to listen to and engage with chamber music performance at the highest level. Alongside its emphasis on the great repertoire of the Western canon, the Festival is extremely hospitable to contemporary music and young, new voices.
~ Katherine Balch, 2015 participant