In addition to providing the Taos community and region a regular offering of high-level chamber music concerts, Taos Soundscapes has been deeply involved in community outreach in schools and health-care institutions ever since our founding. Every Christmas Eve we bring live music, solo and chamber, to the Taos Living Center, the Taos Retirement Village, and the Holy Cross Hospital. And every winter and spring, we work with the Taos Artists-in-Schools program to teach and produce the music for an elementary school performance presented at the Taos Arts Center in May.
For example, in 2017-18, our Artists-in-Schools project was “Shakespeare in Enos”, in which the students acted out adapted excerpts from Henry V, The Tempest, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet to the accompaniment of Elizabethan era songs with harpsichord and cello.
In the 2018-19 school year, our Artists-in-Schools project was a bilingual, multicultural musical play entitled ‘Memorias de mi abuelita” (“Memories of my grandmother”). The script and dance choreography are by Cassandra Romero of Taos Youth Ballet, and the songs are chosen, taught and arranged by Claire Detels and performed by Claire and Rebecca Caron, along with the children of Gwendolyn Countryman's 4th grade class at Ranchos Elementary. “Memorias de mi abuelita” tells the story of children who explore part of the history of Taos when they discover pictures and costumes in their grandmother’s trunk in the attic. In the play, the grandmother comes to life and takes the children through dances, songs, and activities of her past, including a fictional teaching collaboration with celebrated New Mexico musician and composer Jenny Vincent, who fought to keep Spanish alive in the public schools by promoting bilingual music instruction, and who later collected and who continued to collect and perform Hispanic folk music of New Mexico until her death in 2017 at the age of 103. The play ends with the children singing “De Colores” in Spanish and English, and sharing what they remember most about their own grandmothers.
The success of “Memorias de mi abuelita” in its main performance on May 3, 2018 at the Taos Arts Center, led us to expand its multiculturalism in the 2018-19 school year to include a scene at the Taos Pueblo, and was performed on May 2, 2019, at the Taos Arts Center.