Arts Council pours the music out to the community

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By Kirsten Laskey

Like the aroma of coffee wafting through the air, sweet melodies will weave through the space at Fuller Lodge at a Valentine’s  Coffeehouse, sponsored by the Los Alamos Arts Council.

The Coffeehouse will delight listeners’ ears starting at 8 p.m. Feb. 12.  While dining on a selection of desserts and sipping O’Houri’s coffee, music lovers will hear a romantic concert of music by Federick Chopin, J.S. Bach, Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull and Antonin Dvorak performed by violinist Kay Newnam, cellist Sally Gunther and pianist Karen Follingstad.

It’s a program Newnam said she is eager to share with the audience.

“I’m tremendously excited about our concert, she said. “The music has been a joy to prepare and will be a great joy to share.”

She explained how the music is selected.

 “Program variety has always been a hallmark of The Coffeehouse concerts.  While it is a challenge to put together a very good program, there are some specific elements we consider,” Newman said. “The historic periods of the music, the mode (major or minor) and keys of the pieces, the general emotional effect of the musicand the instruments required for performance – all of these factor into our choices.  We even consider the season when we’re choosing music.  For us, a summertime program will be different from one planned for Valentine’s Day.

Since the Los Alamos audience is so musically well informed, there is really no genre of music that is out of bounds for us.

 “The centerpiece of this program is the ‘Dumky’s Trio’ by Antonin Dvorak.  It’s a fiery work that alternates between yearning melancholy and wild gaiety.  Because the Dumky is such a big work– a bit like a symphony, but for three players – we decided to complete the program with the music of Bach for solo violin, Grieg and Ole Bull for cello and piano, and Chopin for solo piano.

“Hearing Chopin’s solo piano music in the intimate setting of The Coffeehouse will be a dream come true for me,” she said.

The idea for The Coffeehouse concerts was born in 1978 and a group of professional musicians from Northern New Mexico was assembled.  Participating were pianist Rosalie Heller, violinist/violists Kay Newnam Patty (O’Rourke) Broxton, clarinetist Robert Wingert, oboist Tom O’Connor, flutist Carol Redman and cellist Vick Firlie.  

Serving coffees and teas from The Winery in Santa Fe and pies and tortes from the Palace Bakery, The Coffeehouse presented its premiere concert on April 17, 1979.  

During the ensuing years, a long series of concerts, which totaled 138, were presented before ending in 2008.

It wasn’t an indefinite end. They were restarted on Aug. 21, 2009 as part of the County’s 60th-Anniversary celebration. Tickets for the Feb. 12 Valentine’s Coffeehouse concert are $25 and are available at CB Fox.  

Ticket price includes a dessert and a beverage.  Student discounts are available.