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Lecture Pays Homage To Music And Rosalie Heller

on September 16, 2019 - 3:51pm
Rosalie Heller
Los Alamos Daily Post

Rosalie Heller was pivotal in developing the arts and culture community in Los Alamos. In fact, she helped found several local arts organizations, including the Los Alamos Arts Council.

So, it seems fitting that the Los Alamos Arts Council establish a memorial lecture series to pay tribute to one of its creators.

The Rosalie Heller Annual Memorial Lecture held its inaugural event last year with NPR’s Bill McGlaughlin speaking on the life and achievements of Leonard Bernstein. This year, the lecture series will feature writer, lecturer and curator James Keller at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 in Fuller Lodge.

Keller’s talk is titled, “Living Within Our Music.”

Leon Heller, Rosalie’s husband, said he found the talk’s subject intriguing.

Music, he explained, can really resonate with people.

For instance, he recalled that Rosalie would go to the local nursing home to play the piano for the residents. At one performance, a gentleman sat hunched with his head hanging down. Once Rosalie started playing, the man perked right up.

“Music creates such a response in people,” Leon said.

This seems particularly true in Los Alamos.

“There are so many people in Los Alamos who enjoy listening to music,” Leon said. “People who enjoy listening to classical music-they’re always anxious to learn more about music.”

The upcoming lecture should help satisfy that interest. According to a Los Alamos Arts Council press release, Keller is in his 25th season with the New York Philharmonic, where he occupies an endowed chair as its Program Annotator. He is also the Program Annotator of the San Francisco Symphony, a position he has held since 2000. His book Chamber Music: A Listener’s Guide, was spotlighted as “book of the month” and a “five stars book choice” by BBC Music Magazine. In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for his feature writing in Chamber Music magazine.

From 2010 to 2019, Keller was a staff writer and critic-at-large at Pasatiempo, the weekly arts and culture magazine of The Santa Fe New Mexican.

“We have a very interesting speaker this year,” Los Alamos Arts Council Executive Director Chris Monteith said.

She added Keller is very knowledgeable and the arts council is excited for him to share his knowledge with the community.

Leon said Los Alamos Concert Association Artistic Director Ann McLaughlin has helped with choosing and identifying speakers for the lecture series.

“Ann has been very good at suggesting names,” he said.

He added he has really enjoyed working with Monteith on this year’s lecture.

“I love working with Chris,” Leon said. “She is an absolute gem and she is on top of everything.”

While the lectures strive to educate its audience about different facets of music, its other purpose is to honor Rosalie.

In addition to helping found the arts council and serving on its first board, Rosalie also helped establish the Los Alamos Living Treasures. Rosalie was named a Santa Fe Living Treasure and felt Los Alamos should have its own Living Treasure program. She also served as Artistic Director for the Los Alamos Concert Association and would host a lot of interesting pre-concert discussions with the performers.

Music was also something Rosalie was heavily involved in and made significant contributions to the local classical music scene.

“She did so many things,” Leon said.

According to the arts council press release, Rosalie taught and inspired more than 300 pupils from age 5 to 95. She was a gifted pianist herself and performed at more than 100 chamber music concerts in Northern New Mexico. Additionally, she gave a series of eight well attended evening lectures on classical music in Fuller Lodge, served as a radio host for more than 10 years and created a variety of programs.

Monteith said, “I think this (the lecture series) is a beautiful way to remember Rosalie. She was an amazing woman and one of the nicest persons I’ve met. This is such a beautiful tribute to her.”

Admission is free to the lecture and it is open to anyone age 12 and older. Tickets are being distributed for the lecture and can be picked up at CB FOX.

The Los Alamos Arts Council, a 501c3 non-profit corporation and public charity that, for 50 years, has been supporting creative arts activities in Los Alamos.

For more information, visit or call 505.663.0477.