Music of the Season
The Loretto Chapel was built as an hommage to Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, and though it fails to equal the colossal stained-glass magnificence of the latter, it's quite a fine space in its own right.
The choir loft features a Miraculous Staircase which, depending on who you talk to, was built either by St. Joseph, the putative parent of Jesus, or by someone else. A couple decades ago I climbed this cantilevered spiral stair, which swayed alarmingly beneath me. Now, in our more corrupt age, we are not allowed to set foot on it.
The chapel has been desanctified and is now used mainly for weddings, with occasional concerts thrown in.
The concert was by Santa Fe Pro Musica. They opened with selections from The Fairy Queen by Purcell, worthy but dull, followed by J.S. Bach's air from the Orchestral Suite No. 3, better known as "Air On a G String." Though of course I'd heard this music all my life, this was the first time I'd heard it performed live. The performance was sensitive and lovely. I think I would like to adopt the first violinist.
There followed the Four Seasons--- not that of Vivaldi, but that of Boismortier, a name that had escaped me to that point. The soprano Kathryn Mueller began to sing and the whole damn place lit up, musically speaking. The acoustics for the instruments weren't bad, but Loretto Chapel was made for a soprano. I just sat there in bright astonishment and listened. (The lyrics, by the way, have nothing to do with Christmas, being an invocation of one pagan god after another.)
After this was Telemann's Concerto for Recorder, Flute, and Strings--- much fun watching and listening to the duel between a recorder and a proper German flute (authentic to the period, without keys). Our friend Scott, a particular fan of Telemann, was transported. After which Ms. Mueller returned for a selection of baroque carols, and the place lit up all over again.
After much applause we went next door to the Inn at Loretto for warm drinks. Then was a walk to the car over crunchy snow, and through Santa Fe's smoke-laden air, a feature of the season which nonetheless aggravated Kathy's asthma.
I think it highly probable that Louis IX, and possibly not even Archbishop Lamy, ever heard music this good.