As the founder, director and flutist for the Taos Chamber Music Group, Nancy’s reputation and regard among world-renowned musicians, have elevated the TCMG far beyond what one expects of a small town, classical music ensemble.
Nancy’s dedication to her artistry and the TCMG have helped to put Taos on the musical map. Nancy moved to Taos in 1979, after attending Vassar College, where initially she thought she would study archaeology. Classes in music history, theory and composition, along with an encouraging flute teacher altered her direction. A summer participating in the Aspen Music Festival further fueled her passion for music and began her love affair with the West.
Nancy received a Masters in Flute Performance at Boston University. Soon after, she attended the Tanglewood Music Festival where she played under the batons of Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. A position was offered to her by the Orquestra Sinfonica de Sao Paulo in Brazil, but it fell through at the last minute and Nancy found herself accepting an invitation to participate in the New Mexico Music Festival in the summer of 1979.
Taos encouraged her to broaden her creative horizons. New opportunities such as composing, playing in jazz groups, being part of community musicals and dance production moved her far beyond her classical roots. A lifelong nature lover, she spent much of her spare time hiking the mesas and canyons of the Sangre de Cristos and indulging her other passion; skiing.
In 1993, she decided to concentrate her efforts to making classical music a year-round presence in Taos. Her intention for the Taos Chamber Music Group was to provide concerts from September through May, at a time when no chamber music had ever been presented in Taos.
When I visited Nancy recently at the beautiful home she shares with her husband, builder extraordinaire and Master Gardener, Vishu Magee, she greeted me at the door, leaning on the cane she now uses to support the leg muscles that are weakened by MS. She recently and very courageously came out publicly about having the disease, which must be an incredibly difficult challenge for someone as physically active as she once was.
The couple have one son together, now grown and out of the house, but Nancy considers Vishu’s two sons from a previous marriage her own as well, and they are frequently visited by grandchildren and surrounded by a tight-knit group of family and friends here in Taos.
No trace of bitterness regarding her condition shows in her lovely face or gracious manner, and she still looks a good decade younger than her actual age. There’s an almost Zen-like acceptance in her demeanor. She invited me into the beautiful sitting room, where she spends a great deal of her time practicing and planning recitals and other creative endeavors.
“I’ve hiked all these mountains,” she smiles looking out the window, “it’s not like I don’t know them.”
“I’m so grateful for that.” She adds softly.
Not even MS can slow this remarkable woman down and this Fall she’s excited about participating in the Paseo event with light artist Sasha Van Dorp, a collaboration that promises to be exquisitely nuanced and transcendent.
The upcoming Mozart & Mendelssohn (M&M’s) at the Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art, will open TCMG’s 23rd season, featuring Russian virtuoso pianist Gleb Ivanov, David Felberg on violin, Sally Guenther on cello and Nancy on flute.
Nancy’s considerable musical experience, along with her deep sense of connection to Taos, continues to inform her own creative passage and the uniqueness of TCMG’s programming. New Mexico’s finest musicians as well as guest artists from around the world continue to play with TCMG, and it has collaborated with writers, dancers, artists, filmmakers and photographers over the years. TCMG’s commitment to music education has also brought programs to hundreds of Taos County school children.
I left Nancy and Vishu’s oasis in the Canyon with a bag full of peaches that practically weighed down the branches of a tree, visible through the window, where she sat as we talked. They were sweet and sun-warmed just like the flute music that followed me out the door.
For much more on Nancy Laupheimer and the TCMG, please visit their site linked below this post, and if you plan to be in Taos this Fall, do try to catch one of their sublime performances, but book your tickets early as they sell out fast!
Photographs of Nancy Laupheimer and details of her sitting room and garden by Lynne Robinson