Donor Story

Learning to Play Well with Others

New Mexico Chamber Music Festival Challenges Students to Excel

By Hilary Mayall Jetty

Posted September 15, 2017

You may refer to Pamela Viktoria Pyle as a pianist, but please don’t call her an accompanist. “I specialize in collaborative piano,” she explained. “The old idea of accompany is to ‘go with,’ as though you’re following in a lesser way. But there is always a give and take, each voice having the limelight for a time. I tell my students, the way they play—their articulations, dynamics and intention—shapes how others perform.”

UNM Associate Professor of Piano Pamela Viktoria Pyle accompanies student musicians during the 2016 New Mexico Chamber Music Festival. Photo: Mark Forte

An award-winning soloist and chamber music recitalist, Pyle is associate professor of Piano and director of the Collaborative Piano Program at the UNM College of Fine Arts. A graduate of The Juilliard School, her concentration in piano and string repertoires led to longtime associations with Dorothy DeLay, one of the world’s most famous teachers of the violin, and Itzhak Perlman, who was himself a student of Miss DeLay.

Pyle has performed in prestigious venues and summer institutes around the world with prominent musicians. As founder and artistic director of the New Mexico Chamber Music Festival, she brings advanced students of violin, viola, cello and piano together at UNM each summer for a week of intensive practice, mentorship and performances. “The beauty of the campus and the mountains offer an inspired setting for students to learn,” she noted.

For the past four years, internationally diverse students from various U.S. music schools and conservatories joined with UNM students to receive instruction and feedback from renowned faculty, including members of the American String Quartet.

UNM graduate student Gabriel Longuinhos, who studies collaborative and solo piano, participated in this year’s festival. “This was a priceless opportunity,” he said. “The repertoire is difficult, but it is a collaboration between students and faculty. It was inspiring to see that much dedication.”

Participants stay on campus, and there is no fee for the program; generous support from the community helps to defray costs. Free public performances include an Old Town concert, performances at UNM’s Keller Hall plus a recital in Albuquerque’s historic KiMo Theater, showcasing students’ accomplishments.

“These young musicians play with such heart and passion,” said Pyle. “It’s amazing how that energy and desire catapults them to a new level in just a week. We’re giving them the gift of learning and listening to their pieces at a deeper level.”

Pyle’s love for teaching and belief in the value of students striving to attain artistic mastery drives her ambitious vision for continuing the festival. “I played at the Aspen Music Festival for 17 summers,” she stated. “That’s where the idea came from. It would be spectacular for our festival to become a destination for lovers of great music, and a center for inspiring music students.”

Learn more about the New Mexico Chamber Music Festival, and support the success of its fifth year, at

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