Local church kicks off new concert series

Mike Easterling
Cathy Pope, left, the Rev. Glenn Perica and Mick Hesse talk on Oct. 30 about the new 'Showcase on Dustin' concert series at First Presbyterian Church in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – Despite its iconic Western surroundings and blue-collar sensibilities, the Farmington area has never been a stranger to what is widely referred to as classical music, Mick Hesse says.

The veteran local musician was one of the organizers of the now-defunct Showcase Concert Series, which ran from 1994 through 2005 and featured monthly performances of primarily classical music. The San Juan Symphony has performed shows in Farmington, as well as Durango, Colo., for many years, and Hesse said there was a successful opera series that ran in Farmington approximately 25 years ago.

So anyone who thinks that a new series that is based largely on classical music won’t find an audience here is likely to be mistaken, Hesse believes.

Hesse – along with Cathy Pope and Glenn Perica, the minister at the First Presbyterian Church – is putting together a new series that begins this weekend at Perica’s church. The “Showcase on Dustin" series will be staged quarterly, and each concert will serve as a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization in the community.

The first recipient will be People Assisting the Homeless, a Farmington group that temporarily provide for the basic needs of homeless individuals, families and others in need, as well as supplying information, guidance and support services designed to help residents regain productive, self-supportive lifestyles.

“This will be less ambitious in numbers (than the Showcase Concert Series), but more likely to continue,” Hesse said, explaining that the considerable amount of work required to keep the former series going each month contributed to its demise. “We’re planning on four (shows) a year.”

He said he had no reservations about mounting another local concert series 10 years after its predecessor ceased operations.

“Oh, no, not at all,” he said. “For one thing, my love of classical music is deep enough that any chance to present that in Farmington is a challenge, but it’s an exciting and thrilling thing to do.”

Hesse quickly acknowledged that classical music doesn’t have anywhere near the following here that other forms of music do, particularly country and western. But he and the other organizers believe there are enough music fans in the area to make the new series a success. Perica loosely compared the new series to the St. Mark’s Recital Series offered by 3rd Ave. Arts in Durango.

“The 3rd Ave. Arts series is mostly classical, and we wanted to offer something a little more diverse than that,” he said, explaining that the second concert in the “Showcase on Dustin” series, tentatively scheduled for April, will feature the renowned local jazz group the Delbert Anderson Trio. “We wanted to put on a first-class kind of presentation for our community. There is an excellent caliber of musicians in this community who would be excited to come and participate in this.”

Perica said the group has been working to get the series off the ground for six months, and he credited Pope with doing much of the legwork to recruit the musicians. The Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation and other private sponsors are helping to present the series, and the musicians who perform will be compensated for their efforts.

The Rev. Glenn Perica, left, Cathy Pope and Mick Hesse are the organizers of the new 'Showcase on Dustin' concert series at the First Presbyterian Church in Farmington.

“We want to pay the musicians what they truly are worth for this,” Perica said. “We’re trying to make this a professional event across the board.”

The opening concert will feature an 11-piece orchestra performing a number of songs that Hesse described as some of the more popular and well known in the classical genre. Among them are “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik” by Mozart, “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” Concerto for Trumpet and Strings in D major by Georg Philipp Telemann and “The Seasons – September, October and November” by Tchaikovsky. Hesse, a trumpet player, will serve as one of the soloists, along with Levi Brown on piano and Brent Williams on violin. Vocalist Gemma Kavanagh will perform several songs, including Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim.”

Hesse said the pieces chosen for the opener are intended to have a high degree of familiarity for audience members, even if listeners don’t know their names. He pointed to the Vivaldi piece as an example.

“A lot of people don’t know they know that, but they hear it when they step on elevators or into Dillard’s,” he said. “A lot of commercials use it.”

The same goes for Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik,” he said.

“We’ve chosen music like that, hopefully, to entice people to go,” he said. “It’s cool to hear that live in Farmington.”

Hesse is excited about the presence of Kavanagh on the program, describing her as a top-notch opera singer who has extensive experience performing in Europe and San Francisco.

“She’s dynamite,” Hesse said.

Perica said a short introduction will be presented for each piece before it is performed in an effort to provide some sort of historical context for the work. The show also will feature a number of desserts for sale by Madison’s Sweets in downtown Farmington, and Perica said audience members are encouraged to enjoy those while mingling with the musicians.

He also hopes the series will bring some awareness – and much-needed supplemental funding – to the nonprofit organizations that will benefit from it. Perica would like to see the first installment in the series raise $1,000 for PATH.

“There’s no shortage of groups that could use the encouragement and support for their issues,” he said.

Hesse is optimistic the series will be well received. While the classical music market here is not exactly under served, he said, it has been under attended, but he thinks that could be about to change.

“I think it’s going to do well in part because it hasn’t happened in a while,” Hesse said.

Even though the series will be held in his church, Perica emphasized the secular nature of the series.

“This is not an outreach of our ministry as much as it is a gift to our community,” he said.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: Opening of the “Showcase on Dustin” concert series

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7

Where: The First Presbyterian Church, 865 N. Dustin Ave. in Farmington

Admission: $5

For more information: Call 505-327-5231