Event Description


Our 34th season kicks off this weekend with Van Cliburn gold medalist, Yekwon Sunwoo, performing on The Lensic stage with our full Symphony Orchestra. Sunwoo, who has shared stages with Perlman and Marin Alsop, comes to Santa Fe fresh from his Van Cliburn victory to perform Brahms’s four-movement epic, the Piano Concerto No. 2. This will be one of the medalist’s first appearances after the June 10, 2017, competition. The afternoon’s performance concludes with Elgar’s intimate and complex Enigma Variations, a Romanticist tribute to the composer’s friends and family.
BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B-flat Major, op.83, featuring  YEKWON SUNWOO, Piano
ELGAR Enigma Variations, op.36
FREE preview talk one hour before the concert. Tickets from $22. Subscription packages available by calling The Symphony Box Office at 505.983.1414 during M – F Business Hours from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. NO CHILDREN UNDER 6 YEARS OF AGE.
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Concert Notes

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Opus 83
Born May 7, 1833, Hamburg
Died April 3, 1897, Vienna

Brahms’s’ First Piano Concerto was a disaster for the young composer. Unsure of himself, he worked on it for four years before he was willing to play it in public in 1859 and then ran into icy audiences and venomous reviews. The 25-year-old composer pretended not to care, but the experience was devastating. So devastating, in fact, that Brahms essentially stopped composing for the piano. After completing the Handel Variations and Paganini Variations, he gave the instrument a fifteen-year rest while he composed in other forms. In the summer of 1878, Brahms returned from a vacation in Italy—which in every way had been a delight—and took summer lodgings in Pörtschach on the Wörthersee. Music seemed to flow out of him that summer, and now he began to compose again for the piano; a set of eight pieces, Opus 76, was soon complete, and he made sketches for a new piano concerto. However, he set these aside for several years while composing the Violin Concerto, First Violin Sonata, and Academic Festival and Tragic Overtures. After a second vacation trip to Italy in the spring of 1881 (which was evidently just as enjoyable as the first) Brahms returned to his plans for the new piano concerto and completed the score on July 7 of that year, two months to the day after his 48th birthday.

Enigma Variations, Opus 36
Born June 2, 1857, Broadheath
Died February 23, 1934, Worcester

One evening in 1898, Edward Elgar was improvising for his wife at the piano and just for fun tried varying a theme to suggest the personality of a different friend in each variation. Suddenly a musical project occurred to him, and what had begun “in a spirit of humour . . . continued in deep seriousness.” The result wasan orchestral theme and fourteen variations, each a portrait of a friend or family member, headed in the score by their initials or some other clue to their identity. The score attracted the attention of conductor Hans Richter, who led the first performance in London on June 19, 1899, and the Enigma Variations quickly became Elgar’s most popular work—Gustav Mahler conducted this music (then only a few years old) during his brief tenure as conductor of the New York hilharmonic. Elgar dedicated the variations “To my friends pictured within,” and the subject of each musical portrait was soon identified, but mystery surrounded the theme itself, a six-bar melody full of the rises and falls that make it an ideal candidate for variation. Elgar himself fed that mystery, naming the theme “Enigma” and saying: “the ‘Enigma’ I will not explain—its ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed . . . further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes,’ but it is not played.” Despite many attempts to identify this “larger” theme (including theories that it is Auld Lang Syne or God Save the Queen), the “enigma” remains just as mysterious now as it did when the music was written over a century ago.

Yekwon Sunwoo 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist

Born in Anyang, South Korea, Mr. Sunwoo began learning piano at age 8. He gave both his recital and orchestra debuts in 2004 in Seoul before moving to the United States in 2005 to study with Seymour Lipkin at the Curtis Institute of Music. He earned his bachelor’s degree there, his master’s at The Juilliard School with Robert McDonald, and his artist diploma at the Mannes School of Music with Richard Goode. He currently studies under Bernd Goetzke in Hannover. Mr. Sunwoo credits each for their guidance in his artistic development and approach, and honored the late Mr. Lipkin by performing his cadenza during his Semifinal Round performance of the Mozart Piano Concerto in C Major, K. 467.  Learn more …

Guillermo Figueroa Principal Conductor

Maestro leads us into our thirty-fourth year of bringing great music to Santa Fe in his first full season as Principal Conductor for The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. One of the most versatile and respected musical artists of his generation—renowned as conductor, violinist, violist, and concertmaster—Guillermo Figueroa is the Principal Conductor of The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. He also serves as the Music Director of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado, Music Director of the Lynn Philharmonia in Florida, and is the founder of the highly acclaimed Figueroa Music and Arts Project in Albuquerque. Additionally, he was the Music Director of both the New Mexico Symphony and the Puerto Rico Symphony. With this last orchestra, he performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall in 2003, the Kennedy Center in 2004, and Spain in 2005. Learn more …

& Musicians


The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra

Principal Conductor

Guillermo Figueroa



Meet The Composers

Alexi kenney

The Symphony welcomes virtuosic violinist Alexi Kenney to The Lensic stage once more. Showing his incredible technical range, Kenney will perform not only Haydn’s heroic Violin Concerto in C Major but also Dvorák’s Romance in F Minor, a brief work that ranges from delicate to passionate.  Learn more …

Berlioz, Haydn, Dvořák & Shostakovich Virtuoso violinist and recipient of a prestigious 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, ALEXI KENNEY, returns to Santa Fe to show his incredible technical range performing not only Haydn’s heroic Concerto for Violin but also Dvořák’s delicate and passionate Romance. Kenney has been named "a talent to watch" by The New York Times, which also noted his "architect's eye for structure and space and a tone that ranges from the achingly fragile to full-bodied robustness.” His win at the 2013 Concert Artists Guild Competition at the age of nineteen led to a critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut recital at Weill Hall. One week later, Alexi Kenney takes center stage for a special performance with critically acclaimed pianist Renana Gutman at our first Concert Recital of the new year taking place on Sunday, October 22, at 4:00 pm.