Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico presents Awakenings: Music of Diversity


Music written for upper voices performed by the professional singers of Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico under the direction of Maxine Thévenot featuring the world-premiere performance of a new work by award-winning American composer Jenny Olivia Johnson. The commission was generously sponsored by Phyllis and Roderick Kennedy in memory of Rebecca Davis Jennings. The concert will include music by composers Hildegard von Bingen, Sarah Quartel, Mari Esabel Valverde, Dale Trumbore, Joan Szymko and others.

Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico

“Polyphony is a treasure.” – Albuquerque Journal

Under the artistic leadership of Maxine Thévenot, Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico (PVNM) is New Mexico’s first professional choral ensemble comprised solely of highly trained vocal artists who are residents in New Mexico.

Incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2007, PVNM was founded to diversify the musical offerings available to audiences and communities in New Mexico and to further support professional singers and choral art in the state. Polyphony is proud to have a high representation of talented choral music educators as part of the ensemble and is proud to have partnered musically with members of New York Polyphony in past performances.

Grounded in the belief that communal singing provides a deep and meaningful soundscape for artists and audiences alike, PVNM’s artists are passionate about the energy and intimacy of chamber choral music performed at a high caliber. The flexible roster of singers is committed to the highest level of ensemble performance and is guided by the works of ages past and inspired by the composers of today.

“…one can easily become mesmerized in the opulent sonorities.” – Albuquerque Journal

Through performing, recording, and outreach to young musicians and amateur community singers, Polyphony seeks to inspire a new generation and foster a high-level of artistry within our community.

PVNM performs both unaccompanied repertoire and larger-scale choral works, the latter in collaboration with New Mexico’s finest orchestras, including the New Mexico Philharmonic, Performance Santa Fe (formerly Santa Fe Concert Association), Santa Fe Pro Musica, and the PVNM orchestra.

PVNM also collaborates with New Mexico’s most prestigious venues and presenters, such as Las Placitas Artist Series; Music in Corrales; The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John; Loretto Chapel, San Miguel Mission, The Lensic Theatre, and St. Francis Auditorium, Santa Fe.

In 2022 they will give the world premiere performance of a commissioned work by American composer, Jenny Olivia Johnson. New Mexican premieres of large-scale choral works include the first performance in Spanish of Enrique Granados’ Canto de las Estrellas with pianist and Granados scholar Douglas Riva; Donald McCullough’s Holocaust Cantata: Songs from the Camps; the first complete performance of Bach’s St. John Passion in German with the New Mexico Philharmonic; James MacMillan’s Miserere and his Seven Last Words from the Cross; and Henry Mollicone’s Beatitude Mass: Mass for the Homeless.

Artistic Director, Maxine Thevenot
Founding & Artistic Director

The versatile, engaging, and spirited Canadian-American conductor and educator Maxine Thévenot is driven by a passion for vocal music in all its forms and styles. Equally at home with repertoire from the classical canon and more contemporary compositions, Thévenot’s direction invariably shapes the music with illuminating and often profound effect, sculpting each phrase with intelligence and understanding. – Albuquerque Journal

A frequent champion of music of our own time, she has conducted regional, national, and world premieres of works including those by Judith Bingham, Abbie Bettinis, Jake Runestad, Ola Gjeilo, Judith Weir, Cecilia McDowall, Arvo Pärt, Tarik O’ Regan, James MacMillan, Joby Talbot, Philip Moore, Andrew Carter, Stephanie Martin, Andrew Ager, Falko Steinbach, and Levi Brown. In 2021 she will premiere newly-commissioned works by Sarah Quartel and Jenny Olivia Johnson, written especially for her choral ensembles.

Thévenot is acknowledged as one who brings singers of all ages and abilities to artful performance through an understanding of the music and its context in the world around them. Her passionate artistry, combined with a pioneering desire to educate, unites music, art, and community and has led to her resurrecting and mounting large scale choral works, including Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium, and creating the intergenerational, 45-minute performance project, A Children’s Messiah by G. F. Handel. Through her work with so many wonderfully imaginative and creative children, adults, and professional musicians, Maxine has demonstrated that the power of music combined with the goals of education, highlighting the values of diversity and social responsibility, can build up our society. One particular such event raised over $10,000 in a benefit concert for local charity Barrett House.

Dr. Thévenot frequently collaborates with New Mexico’s finest orchestras offering moving and dynamic interpretations of standard large-scale choral repertoire. She has prepared choirs for the New Mexico Philharmonic (Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Holiday Pops); Performance Santa Fe (Beethoven Ninth Symphony); The Figueroa Project (Bach Magnificat); and Santa Fe Pro Musica (Haydn Creation), for conductors Dante Anzolini, Grant Cooper, Joe Illick, Guillermo Figueroa, and Thomas O’Connor.

In New Mexico, she has led the New Mexico Philharmonic, CHATTER orchestra, Friends of Cathedral Music orchestra, and the PVNM orchestra in fresh and inspired interpretations of major choral-orchestral works including Bach’s St. John’s Passion, James MacMillan’s setting of Miserere and Seven Last Words from the Cross, Henry Mollicone’s Beatitude Mass: Mass for the Homeless, the Requiem settings by both Fauré and Duruflé, and Enrique Granados’ Canto de las Estrellas with pianist and Granados scholar Douglas Riva.

Internationally, Maxine has led her exceptional choirs in concerts and liturgical services in prestigious venues including Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London; Washington National Cathedral; and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC. Her career as a concert organist has afforded her the opportunity to perform throughout North America, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Austria, and in 2021 she will make her début recital performance at the Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Thévenot received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music from the renowned Manhattan School of Music, NYC in organ performance, and was twice awarded the Bronson Ragan Award for most outstanding organ performance. While at MSM she was founding director of Concentus women’s choir. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education (with distinction) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Maxine is an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto. She was made an Honorary Fellow of the National College of Music, London, UK in 2006 for her ‘services to music’.

Recordings of choirs conducted by Maxine Thévenot may be heard on the RavenCD label. www.maxinethevenot.com.

Jenny Olivia Johnson
Commissioned Composer

Jenny Olivia Johnson (b. 1978 in Santa Monica, CA) is a composer, sound artist, music scholar, and Associate Professor of Music at Wellesley College.  Her work ranges from electroacoustic chamber songs and contemplative solo works to short amplified operas and interactive sound installations with lighting.  Her music has been performed by ensembles such as ICE, Alarm Will Sound, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, New York City Opera’s VOX Program, Wild Up, The Industry, and the Asko Schoenberg Ensemble, and her sound art has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (in collaboration with artist Daniela Rivera), and at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Her first two albums, “Don’t Look Back” and “Sylvia Songs,” were released on Innova Recordings in 2015 and 2018, and she is currently finishing her third album, “The After Time,” a double-disc electroacoustic opera about grief and queer desire. Her recent exhibition “DIVE (Lucy’s Last Dance),” a full-scale recreation of a dive bar, is an interactive installation based on “The After Time” that was exhibited at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College in early 2020.

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