History

Performance Santa Fe’s Illustrious History and Exciting Future!

Today—when performances by international artists are immediately available through the Internet, telephones, television, radio, and myriad other sources—it is hard to appreciate just what an exceptional and treasured experience a 1937 live performance by a world-famous artist could be for Santa Fe residents.

Performance Santa Fe’s history began on October 20, 1937 when the first concert by the then Santa Fe Community Concert Association (SFCCA) took place. The Santa Fe New Mexican estimated the audience at 775 people—roughly the size of a full-house audience today at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

Performance Santa Fe was a presenter for Columbia Artists Management’s famed Community Concerts program, and now as one of the premier presenters in the Southwest, our performances represent a veritable who’s who list of renowned national and international artists.

  • Pianists:  Dalies Frantz to Vitva Vronsky and Victor Babin, Jorge Bolet, and Eugene List, Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu, Lang Lang, and Yuja Wang
  • Violinists:  Yehudi Menuhin,Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, and Hilary Hahn
  • Vocalists:  The Trapp Family Singers, Kathleen Ferrier, Fyodor Chaliapin, George London, Robert Shaw Chorale, Deborah Voigt, Helen Jepson, Patti LuPone, Chanticleer, Anonymous 4, The King’s Singers, Joyce DiDonato
  • Guitarists: Julian Bream, David Russell, and Ana Vidovic
  • Ensembles: Russian Imperial Singers, Academy of Ancient Music, Emerson, Cleveland and Kronos string quartets, Beaux Arts Trio, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Octet, Setzer/Finkel/Han, Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center
  • Dance: Paris Ballet, Ballet Folklórico de México, Ballet Argentino, Russian National Ballet, Moscow Festival Ballet, Stars of American Ballet
  • Family Opera: Amahl and the Night Visitors, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Magic Flute, and The Barber of Seville, The Pirates of Penzance
  • Theater: Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Cirque Chinois, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in King Lear

Before rebranding to Performance Santa Fe, the SFCCA was considered the only viable cultural organization in the city. Funds raised through annual membership/subscription drives would determine how many artists the organization could afford to bring in. For many years admission was on a season subscription, membership-only basis, and single tickets were not available. SFCCA became an independent, tax-exempt organization known as the Santa Fe Concert Association (SFCA) in 1973. In April 2014, the organization rebranded as Performance Santa Fe.

In addition to presenting concerts for adult audiences, as early as 1968 the group recognized the importance of introducing music to young people and children. In 1974 the Utah Symphony Orchestra presented a program of light classics and patriotic music for an audience of 3,000 young people at the Sweeney Center. “A show of hands at the concert indicated that about 90 percent of the students had never heard a symphony,” commented the March 17, 1974 issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican.  From this point on, youth concerts became an integral part of the organization’s programing.

Over the years, Performance Santa Fe has received funding through subscriptions, ticket sales, and benefits; grants from the New Mexico Arts Division, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission, and the 1% Lodgers Tax; private and corporate contributions; and advertising revenue.

Much has changed since 1937, but Performance Santa Fe continues its mission to present and produce the best in performing arts, and to enliven the hearts, minds, and spirits of the community through artistic excellence. Join us as we begin our 80th season of sharing the joy and excitement of live performances of world-class music, dance, and theater.