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The New Mexico Philharmonic: For the Joy of Music

By David Boegaard

The New Mexico Philharmonic, based in historic Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the major symphony orchestra in the state. With more than 50,000 audience members each year and 74 musicians, the Philharmonic hosts a full season of concerts running from October through May.

A registered non-profit, the New Mexico Philharmonic was founded in 2011 by professional musicians and music supporters to create an exceptional musical experience for concertgoers and musicians alike. With a textured repertoire, each performance typically combines a piece from the classical canon with a more modern piece.

Marian Tanau, Executive Director of the New Mexico Philharmonic, comes to his position from a long career as a violinist. He began playing at the age of four in his native Romania, but his musical talents drove him to travel, finally winding up in the United States as a violinist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Around ten years ago, Tanau began working to organize and manage, from organizing a 19-concert series to serving as Orchestra Committee Chairman for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra to founding and directing the American Romanian Music Festival. In 2010, Tanau served as a primary negotiator in an effort to balance cuts to musician salaries with cuts to executive salaries. In 2011, he was hired as the Executive Director for the New Mexico Philharmonic.

Although Albuquerque is already a region with tremendous natural, historical, and cultural riches, a professional philharmonic "acts like a magnet for individuals and entities looking to relocate to an area with a rich and diverse cultural scene," says Tanau.

The Philharmonic's primary venue is Popejoy Hall, but they hold concerts in venues across Albuquerque, including the National Hispanic Cultural Center and a variety of churches. The Philharmonic works hard to create programs that involve the entire community, from summer music camps for kids to the popular Popejoy Pops series.

The Philharmonic employs 74 professional musicians and frequent guest performers. The focus always stays on the musicians. Few people realize the dedication and expertise required to perform professionally in a symphony. "Orchestra musicians are highly trained professionals that have a calling towards music from a very early age," says Tanau. "Those musicians dedicated their lives to bringing the joy of music to several generations from school age to retirement age." They have trained for hours each day since childhood in order to create beautiful musical moments for their audience, and that is the experience that Tanau wishes to emphasize.

For Tanau, the New Mexico Philharmonic is greater than the sum of its parts. "Music fulfills our need to ponder the meaning of our existence, and it speaks without words to the array of feelings we harbor as human beings." That need exists in all of us, and the New Mexico Philharmonic is working hard to bring an experience of fulfillment to the people of New Mexico, and beyond.

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