Our Story

40th Anniversary Season

bringing great music to life®.

The 2023–2024 Season of The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus marks 40 years of performing live classical music in “The City Different”—Santa Fe, New Mexico. Founded in 1984 by Gregory W. Heltman, with top-flight musicians whose resumes include outstanding conservatories and the world’s most esteemed orchestras, The Symphony performs under the baton of renowned conductor, violinist, and violist, Music Director, Guillermo Figueroa. As the only professional symphony orchestra-with-chorus in Northern New Mexico, the Orchestra today is managed by Executive Director, Emma Scherer, and includes 65 professional musicians, all New Mexico residents, and a volunteer chorus of over 70 singers led by Choral Director, Carmen Flórez-Mansi. The Season runs September through May, offering a wide range of orchestral music that excites the most avid lover of great music and inspires the young and young at heart, presenting 10 to 12 subscription concerts at the historic Lensic Performing Arts Center; free community performances at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, plus special events and chamber performances at unique venues across Santa Fe.

The Symphony’s 40-year legacy of musical excellence also goes hand-in-hand with its longstanding commitment to providing no-cost cultural outreach programs for the greater Santa Fe community, serving nearly 4,000 school children per year through its award-winning mentoring programs. Its broad platform of free music education and outreach initiatives are accessible to all, including Kids’ Classical Concerts in the Santa Fe Public Schools; Senior Serenades at retirement homes and assisted living facilities; annual Discovery Concerts for 5th graders at The Lensic; Side-by-Side concerts with the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association; Symphony del Sur concerts at Santa Fe Farmers Market Del Sur, a new Pueblo Concert Series for Indigenous peoples and local communities; Free Family Concerts at local libraries, teen centers, and shelters; Choral Scholar program for young singers in high-school; and now in its second year, an Annual Concerto Competition for music students in high school and college—providing budding musicians with professional development funds and performance opportunities. By investing in the community, The Symphony hopes to foster the next generation of classical music lovers and future musicians of The Santa Fe Symphony.

Over the years, The Symphony has been praised for its diverse programming, from beloved masterworks to premieres by such noted composers as Pulitzer Prize–winner George Walker and Academy Award–winners Elmer Bernstein and Dave Grusin. We are often privileged to work with renowned guest artists, such as Mark O’Connor, Nestor Torres, Susanna Phillips, André Watts, and Anne Akiko Meyers, and conductors including Carmen Helena Télez, Tom Hall, and JoAnn Falletta.

In 2009, The Symphony began collaborating with the Santa Fe Institute on a series of educational productions titled “Voyages of Discovery” exploring the relationships between science and music. Our first co-production was “Darwin and Mendelssohn,” followed by “The Planets” (coordinated with Chicago’s Adler Planetarium) in 2010, then by “Bach on the Brain” in 2011 and “The Majesty of Music and Mathematics” in 2013. The success of these events continues to lead to new opportunities for reaching students of all ages, nationally as well as regionally.

The Santa Fe Symphony and the Santa Fe Institute collaborated to produce “The Majesty of Music & Mathematics: Voyages of Discovery IV,” a unique program that illuminates and explores the intersections of music and mathematics. The original production debuted in 2013, featuring dramatic music by The Symphony and narration by SFI mathematician and computer scientist Cris Moore, all complemented by an expansive overhead multimedia presentation. Due to the presentation’s success and noteworthy educational content, The Symphony and SFI worked with New Mexico PBS to produce of a high-definition edition of the program for distribution to the widest possible audience, which was filmed before a live audience at The Lensic in June 2017, and produced by Miles O’Brien.