High Desert Art

Spending a week in Santa Fe for opera and chamber music feeds my soul. I have been doing this off and on for forty years. I took Colleen to Santa Fe for the first time in 2003 and next week will be our sixth trip to New Mexico and the fifth time in the summer for music. This year we are slated to see four operas and two chamber music concerts. All the operas are new productions and that is truly amazing! We will see Arabella, King Roger, Pearl Fishers, and Tosca. I am especially looking forward to seeing the rarely-produced King Roger. In chamber music, there will be Beethoven, Brahms, and a lot of Schoenberg and even some Johann Strauss – arranged by Schoenberg!

We will also do some day trips to favorite places including Ojo Caliente and Ghost Ranch and this year we will take the twisting trek to Christ in the Desert Monastery for four days of sung prayer and soaking up the beauty of the Chama Canyon and Mesa Vieja. Certainly we will eat a lot of green chile, drink some fine tequila, eat enchiladas at the Shed, hike Canyon Road perusing art, and browse the portal of the Palace of the Governors looking for jewelry and art. And if my opera junkie companions can stand it, I might get to sing a few cabaret tunes with Doug Montgomery at Vanessie, too.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like had my parents not taken me to Santa Fe as a child. I discovered music and opera and art in that rugged landscape and I was exposed to ideas that eventually led me beyond my small-town upbringing in Texas. In those blessed high deserts of New Mexico, I was literally born again as a musician and artist.

In InterPlay we always say, “if you want to change your life, change your practice.” When I was at Christ in the Desert in March 2011, I also began what has become an extended season of internal and external changes. That pivotal week-long retreat helped me to finally let go of many years of grief and anger so I could begin to imagine what the next part of my life might become. In that primitive Benedictine monastery, singing is the primary form of prayer and the canyon became my cathedral/concert hall as I sang my heart out to the cows lounging across the river. Singing chant again and singing just for myself is now the primary spiritual practice I count on every day.

I am open to the leading of the Spirit as to what is next in my life. But in the meantime, I will dream of the high desert and sing.


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