Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Day on the Plaza

At the heart of downtown Santa Fe, NM, is the Plaza. This plot of green is an attractive center for exchanging ideas, relaxing, and people watching.

But it has also been the commercial, social, and political center of Santa Fe for hundreds of years.

On the day of our recent walk around the Plaza, we were part of the commercial and social functions.

"The Plaza is surrounded by structures in the Pueblo, Spanish and Territorial styles that reflect its diverse history. These buildings include the city's original palacio, the Palace of the Governors (below), built between 1610 and 1612" (

It is on the sidewalk in front of the Palace of Governors that one form of commerce takes place, centering around the works of Native American craftsmen and women. The works included pottery and woven products, but the majority of the items for sale were types of jewelry.

During six weeks in the summer, the Plaza's activities emphasize the sense of community and the social life through its free summer music festival--the popular Summer Bandstand music series. This features extremely talented musicians and dancers from the Santa Fe area, many of whom have reputations that spread far beyond the Santa Fe city limits.

The first of two performances featured Martha Reich. Performing publicly since the summer of ʻ94 at "The Rockport Acoustic Festival,” Rockport, MA, Martha's voice and feeling "is often compared to Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.

"Marthaʼs exceptional beautiful voice, unique melodies, and guitar execution, will affect you in a deep and soulful way, taking you on a hypnotic and soothing journey" (

Michael Kott, called "a 'trans-galactic electro-cellist,' is an accomplished musician who has been playing the cello since the age of nine" (dalailamacenter. org). He had found his place in the sun on the steps of the stage while accompanying Martha.

The second performer was Suzanne Teng with the World Music Ensemble. As the group's name implies, the repertoire of the group covered music from around the world. Suzanne herself plays over 100 different instruments from around the world. Here she is playing the bamboo flute.

The instrument on the left is just one of the many that I did not recognize.

For the group's final selection, they played "Topanga Dreams." Here Suzanne played the bass flute which had a haunting sound. We could have listened to this selection for hours.

Known for creating heartfelt and healing music, Al Martinez of the Los Angeles Times claims “Suzanne Teng plays music for the soul.”
Genentech, Inc. has distributed 30,000 copies of the CD "Healing Sounds" created by Suzanne and Gilbert Levy, to breast cancer patients to aid in their healing process and an additional 20,000 copies to participants of the Avon Walks for Breast Cancer held nationwide.

The deep tones of the flute moved a couple of people in the audience (note the gentleman with his cane) to break into a spontaneous dance. Their "Tai Chi-like move-ments" actually fit the mood and tempo of the music perfectly.

And these were just two of the six dozen or so excellent groups and individuals from the Santa Fe area that performed at this bandstand this summer.

And it was free.

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