Photo by C. Whitney-Ward
Greg Heltman, the delightful Founder & General Director of the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, has a deep passion and commitment to music and the Santa Fe community. A New Mexico native, Greg was raised in a musical family - his mother was a vocal teacher and his father a conductor - and by the age of twelve he knew that his life dream was to follow in his parent's musical footsteps.
In college he embraced the trumpet, graduating magna cum laude from the University of the Pacific. He played with the Israel Sinfonietta, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, and in 1984 he founded the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra. For more than a quarter century he has been a champion of orchestral music in Santa Fe and this year he takes on an additional role - President of the Rotary Club of Santa Fe.
Q. If Santa Fe were a symphony, who would have composed it?
Ottorino Respighi. He was a 20th century Italian composer whose music is colorful and free in its use of descriptive melodies and harmonies. But his approach is immediately understandable.
Q. If you hadn't grown up here, what would have drawn you to Santa Fe?
The sense of possibility. Santa Fe allows a person to be entrepreneurial and adventuresome and to express their dreams.
Q. Describe your Santa Fe in three words.
Welcoming. Genuine. Comfortable.
Q. What surprises you most about Santa Fe?
The range of dichotomies that make up every aspect of Santa Fe society.
Q. If you had only one window in your house, what vista would you choose?
Looking west toward the Jemez Mountains...they're expansive. It's always nice to be reminded of the treasures that can be taken for granted.
Q. What do you like best about your job?
It fulfills my belief in the criticality of being actively involved in one's community. I was on the Santa Fe 400th Board or Directors; I conducted the Santa Fe Community Band, first established in the 1860's; and now I'm working with the Rotary Club, an organization committed to service to the community.
Q. If you could invite any historical music figure to Santa Fe, who would it be?
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004). He wrote over 200 film scores - Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, To Kill a Mockingbird. He was an accomplished composer, writing for the concert hall as well as the movies. He championed the value of a full symphony orchestra to accompany film.
Q. Where would you go if you only had an afternoon to spend in Santa Fe?
If there was water in the Santa Fe River, I'd pack up the family and go up river near Patrick Smith Park.
THE SANTA FE SYMPHONY AND CHORUS