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Renowned pianist Doug Montgomery and violinist Elizabeth Young to perform
By Christina Stock
Two of Santa Fe’s most popular artists, pianist Doug Montgomery and violinist Elizabeth Young, will perform at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art (AMoCA). The concert benefits the Roswell Symphony Orchestra and takes place on November 4 at 6 p.m.
The two performers call Santa Fe their home and can be heard regularly at Vanessie’s, Santa Fe’s only piano salon.
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Young graduated from the Manhattan School of Music and worked for over 10 years as a full-time musician in New York City. She has performed in the United States, Canada, Europe and Oman. Living in Santa Fe, she has performed with the Santa Fe Opera, the New Mexico Philharmonic, and the Santa Fe Symphony, among others.
In a phone interview, Montgomery spoke about the upcoming event and his long career as a pianist. He said he played Roswell in the early 90s.
When asked if he was familiar with the museum’s Bösendorfer concert grand piano, he said being able to play it was one of his greatest pleasures.
“I love this piano. I think it’s one of the gems of the Southwest, ”Montgomery said.
This time, Montgomery is not coming solo, he said.
“I’m bringing a fantastic violinist by the name of Elizabeth Young, and we’ll have an amazing show. But I’ll also play between some of our selections (and) my own selections. We have treats that people love – beautiful classical pieces, then improvisations. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a piece that a lot of people will know, and we have a country violin tune, not to mention some nice Broadway standards that we would love to play for you. I don’t think you will ever be bored; we will have a lot of variety. Something for everyone.
When asked if he remembered his first time on stage, Montgomery said, “I fell in love with music when I was very young, but I was only lucky enough to have good lessons only at the age of 10. I think I was on stage when I was 11. And I can play by ear, but my teacher warned me then. They very quickly discovered that it could be a bad habit to hear something from Bach and then try to play it by ear instead of the way Bach had written it.
His biography indicates that Montgomery attended Northwestern University, where he obtained his BA in 1976. In 1978, he studied with Martin Canin and John Browning at the famous Juilliard School of Music. After obtaining his Masters, he received the prestigious Joseph Lhevinne Fellowship in Piano and returned to teach at Juilliard for a year. He gained national attention as the winner of the first prize (1977) at the famous Robert Casadesus Piano Competition. In 1976, he also won first prize at the Musical Arts Competition in Chicago, sponsored by the Society of American Musicians.
With all of these accolades, it was still difficult for Montgomery to make a living, and at this time classically trained musicians did not perform other styles of music. For a while, Montgomery stopped performing altogether, and after a hiatus, where he was able to pay off his debts, an evening at a piano bar with friends changed his life. He will indeed use his classical training to perform popular arrangements. Another change came with a visit to Santa Fe; where he moved and performed since 1983.
When asked if, after all these performances, he was still nervous about going on stage, Montgomery replied that it would only happen when he performed a piece he was unfamiliar with.
“When I improvise, there is nothing to worry about, because I don’t know what I’m going to play anyway until the microsecond before actually performing the note,” he said with a laugh. .
As is the case with many artists, Montgomery was unable to go on tour during the pandemic; and, although he had some savings, the money was tight. Support came from his fan base, who watched him train on his website and then sent him money. His home port, where he performed when he was in town, Vanessie’s piano lounge, had been closed due to the lockdown. Only the adjoining hostel remained open. Montgomery always maintained the piano in the living room, making sure the humidifier was full. And, of course, he would practice. In no time, some of his fans found out and – social distancing in mind – started showing up to listen and tip. “They didn’t have to do it,” Montgomery said. “I wasn’t asking for it, but they left tips. It helped a lot because we only needed money for food.
In addition to ticket sales, funds for the symphony will be raised by allowing the public to request songs in exchange for donations. This will happen after the main performances.
According to the organizers, there are only a few tickets left. For more information, visit roswellsymphony.org or call 575-623-5882.