Throughout the fall and spring, the historic Lensic, Santa Fe’s Performing Arts Center, hosts the majority of The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus ‘s season concerts. From 20th-century triumphs like Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony to long-loved spectacles like our annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, experience it all right from downtown—steps away from the dining and shopping surrounding the Santa Fe Plaza.
Built in 1931, The Lensic is more than a theater to the people of Santa Fe. For most of the 20th century, The Lensic was a place for a first kiss in the balcony, a grand silver screen in the midst of the Depression, a vaudeville venue where the community could see the singers, actors, dancers, and comedians of the day. It was a place where magic happened. By the late 1990s, however, the theater had fallen into disrepair.
Despite one-of-a-kind architecture and seating for more than 800 people, The Lensic was in danger of becoming an empty house when in 1999 a vision for a world-class performing arts center was born. It was time for a new chapter in the venerated theater’s life. Thanks to a group of dedicated individuals who saw the potential for the venue and the future benefit for Santa Fe, the renovation and refurbishing of the old theater began in 2000 with gifts from individuals, local businesses, the city, and foundations. In April 2001, the Lensic Theater once again opened its doors to the people of Santa Fe, now as the nonprofit Lensic Performing Arts Center. It’s a place where magic still happens, more than 200 nights a year.
On June 24, 1931, the Lensic Theater celebrated its grand opening. Soon the Lensic became a hub of Santa Fe social life. Movies proved to be the great tonic of the Depression years and the war years that followed. The marquee changed four times a week—three shows daily, with ticket prices from 25 cents to 75 cents. Through the 1950s the Lensic thrived. However, as the city grew, other entertainment options became available. The technical requirements of modern performance continued to surpass those offered by the old Lensic. In the 1990s, while managed by United Artists, the theater stopped hosting live events, and in 1999 it closed its doors altogether.
Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, members of a distinguished real estate family in New York, moved to Santa Fe in the 1980s and were among the first to understand the potential of the Lensic as a performing arts center. Determined to provide the city with such a venue, they returned to Salmon’s vision of a dramatic showplace. Working with eight Santa Fe performing arts groups, the city government, individuals, and business leaders, they raised $9 million from the community, recruited a respected board of directors, and incorporated the theater as a nonprofit.
The new Lensic Performing Arts Center was designed to expand the possibilities of the venue for all uses. It would be a catalyst for the growth of Santa Fe’s existing companies and the emergence of new artists, art forms, and audiences for generations to come.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe and the home to our annual FREE Carols & Choruses performances, Choral Masterworks, and this year our highly anticipated subscription concert “Celebrating Stravinsky.”
The Cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, La Parroquia (built in 1714–1717), the cathedral was influenced by the French-born Archbishop Lamy and in dramatic contrast to the surrounding adobe structures, Saint Francis Cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. As such, the cathedral features characteristic round arches separated by Corinthian columns and truncated square towers.
The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi was officially elevated to a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI on October 4, 2005, when it was named the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Built in 1917, the New Mexico Museum of Art is admired for its New Mexico Pueblo Revival style architecture and is listed as a national historic landmark. Located inside the museum. for generations, St. Francis Auditorium has been a centerpiece of Santa Fe’s cultural and social life as a community space.
The Saint Francis Auditorium serves as one of Santa Fe’s premier performance halls and is the home to The Symphony’s annual SFS Strata chamber performances. The McNary pipe organ stands majestically amid the series of murals depicting Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Santa Fe. Wooden, church-like pews complement this historic hall.