Chris Mohr

Host - Classical Music from Aspen

Chris Mohr began composing a major oratorio at the age of 12, and his music drama From the Realm of the Shadow has been released on Naxos Records and performed in 2013 in New York at the Riverside Church Theatre. He has been a classical radio announcer since 1978. Along with his wife Karen he published On The Air Magazine, a fourteen-city classical radio magazine, from the late eighties to the late nineties. His two-CD set, The Classical Music Start-Up Kit with extensive liner notes, has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. He is composing a 53-note-to-the-octave oratorio, Melodies of the Shoreless Sea, setting  ancient poems to geographically-matched ancient scales in their pure original tunings. He is also working on a book called The Grand Unified Theory of Ancient Music, which demonstrates how 53-eq tuning offers a single musical system to play hundreds of ancient scales in tune. He has hiked up most of Colorado's fourteeners, has spent every summer since 1980 with his wife Karen enjoying the Aspen Music Festival,  volunteers for the Met Opera Auditions, has twenty years experience volunteering in prisons, and enjoys scuba diving, meditating, bicycling and his cat Pamina. Bonus story: Thirty four years ago, a friend with a private pilot's license invited to fly me anywhere in Colorado for the cost of gas. Wanting to impress a woman I was intensely interested in, I asked if she'd like to be flown from Denver to Aspen in a small plane to hear Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The plane got 100 feet into the air and ended up crashing into a field just beyond the runway. The plane was damaged but we were unhurt, so I raced us over Independence Pass at race-car speeds. By the time we arrived, the concert was about to begin and there were no tickets to be had. We sat out on the lawn, looking at dark brooding clouds throughout the first movement. During the violent Scherzo, lightning bolts were crashing onto the mountaintops all around us. During the quieter third movement, there was an incredibly gentle mist. As the chorus began to sing the Ode to Joy, the sun burst out! I should have proposed to her on the spot, but we did marry three years later... and we haven't missed a summer in Aspen together since!

Ways to Connect

  Tunes and Tales, a free program for children 4-9 accompanied by an adult, takes place this morning at 10:30 at the Basalt Regional Library. Listen to enchanting stories along with classical favorites performed by Aspen Music Festival and School students.

  Today and every Monday throughout the Festival at 10:15, the Festival offers a free guided tour of the Bucksbaum Campus. If you haven’t yet toured the newer buildings there, here’s your chance. Meet at the Administration Building.

  A weekly interview program with host Chris Mohr. This week we chat with Aspen Opera Theater director Ed Berkeley about the entire season, as well as 16 year old Malaysian composer and pianist Tengku Irfan .

  The Aspen Chamber Symphony conducted by Larry Rachleff performs at 6 today in the Benedict Music Tent. 

  Pianist Arie Vardi teaches a master class today at 10 in Harris Concert Hall.

Today at noon at Christ Episcopal Church, pianist Orli Shaham joins Alan Fletcher, President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School in a conversation about new works and the Mackey piano concerto Stumble to Grace. These thoughtful and stimulating discussions known as High Notes continue every Wednesday at noon and are free.

  Kids 2-7 with an adult accompanying them are invited to Gotta Move!, a free and fun program where they’ll discover the basics of beat, tune and rhythm through stories, movement and a short performance. That’s this morning at 10:30 on the Bucksbaum Campus. A competition for Low Strings players begins today at 5 at Edlis Neeson Hall on the Bucksbaum Campus. The winner will play with the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra on July 21st.

Aspen Public Radio's Chris Mohr wraps up a season of interviews with renowned musicians and composers with a "debriefing" interview with Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher. We talk about the pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises of the season, and then Alan "tips his hand" and talks a little about next year's theme. And yes, Verdi's Aida will be performed on the big stage at the Tent! 

Those iconic structures you've been visiting all summer-- The Tent, Harris Hall, the Bucksbaum Campus, even the student lodging-- were all designed by architect Harry Teague.  We caught up with him to talk about some of the concepts behind the buildings we've all visited so many times.

Thanks to all the listeners who have told me how much they enjoy hearing great classical music every weekday on Aspen Public Radio, the AMFS for helping me find great interviewees for this show, and all the musicians and administrators who keep the music alive in Aspen!

Today is Friday, August 15th.

Lots of great events during this final weekend of the Aspen Music Festival’s 65th season.

The Aspen Chamber Symphony performs tonight at 6pm in the Benedict Music Tent conducted by Jun Markl. Works by Saint-Saens and Richard Strauss, along with the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto with Vladimir Feltsman

At 10am tomorrow in the Wheeler Opera House, it’s the summer’s final opera scenes master class with the up and coming stars of the Aspen Opera Theater Center.

At 1pm tomorrow in the Benedict Music Tent, a dress rehearsal of Sunday’s Aspen Festival Orchestra concert.

A 4:30pm chamber music concert tomorrow in Harris Hall includes the E-flat Piano Quartet by Dvorak and Grazioso! by Mark-Anthony Turnage.

The Aspen Opera Theater Center present’s Bizet’s Carmen at 7pm tonight in the Wheeler Opera House, and that performance will be broadcast live here on Aspen Public Radio.

Pianist Conrad Tao plays an eclectic recital tonight at 8pm in Harris Concert Hall. The program includes Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Tomorrow at 4pm will be the final concert of the season. The Aspen Festival Orchestra will be conducted by Robert Spano and joined by an illustrious lineup of soloists and the Colorado Symphony Chorus conducted by Duain Wolfe. Arvo Part’s Fratres opens the program, followed by the Monologue and Coronation Scene from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov.

Today is Wednesday, August 13th.

Today’s High Notes at noon in Paepcke Auditorium features a discussion of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in anticipation of Sunday’s Aspen Festival Orchestra performance. Admission is free.

At 3pm today, top student talent perform a diverse program in a free Spotlight Recital in Harris Concert Hall.

The Aspen Philharmonic gives its final concert of the season at 6pm tonight in the Benedict Music Tent. Jane Glover conducts and violinist Fabiola Kim will be featured in The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini will be performed by the Piano Competition Winner, and Mendelssohn’s 3rd Symphony, “Scottish,” concludes the program.

Metropolitan Opera favorites soprano Susanna Phillips and bass-baritone Eric Owens will give a recital tonight at 8:30pm in Harris Concert Hall with Aspen Music Festival Music Director Robert Spano at the piano.

The last week of the Aspen Music Festival always seems packed especially tightly with great musical artists, and this year in no exception.  Today host Chris Mohr chats with soprano Susanna Phillips in anticipation of her joint recital with bass-baritone Eric Owens. We also catch up with her former professor and composer Philip Lasser, whose recently released CD Colors of Feelings features Susanna's expressive and beautiful voice. We also talk with Aspen Percussion Ensemble director Jonathan Haas and hear from some of his students. We end the show with a visit to a rehearsal of the Aspen Jewish Congregation's vocal tribute to Jewish Stories and American Songs, "Standing Out, Fitting In" at the Aspen District Theatre.

Today is Tuesday, August 12th.

A free Spotlight Recital takes place today at noon in the beautiful Aspen Chapel.

At 1pm in Harris Concert Hall, Donald Weilerstein, father of cellist Alisa Weilerstein, gives a violin master class.

At 4pm today in the Benedict Music Tent, the season’s final free concert by the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra presents top conducting students in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, sometimes called the “Turkish” Concerto. The soloist will be the AACA Violin Competition Winner. Also on the program, Mahler’s 5th Symphony which includes the exquisite Adagietto.

Nikolai Lugansky plays a piano recital of works by Franck, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff tonight at 7:30pm in Harris Concert Hall.

Today is Monday, August 11th.

Today at 10:15am is your last chance this season to take a free guided tour of the Bucksbaum Campus. Meet at the Administration Building.

The summer’s last free guided backstage tour of Benedict Music Tent and Harris Concert Hall takes place today at noon. Meet on Tent Plaza in front of the Tent.

At 6pm today, an illustrious lineup of Aspen Music School faculty members team up for the rarely heard Quintet in D major for Clarinet, Horn, Violin Cello and Piano by Vaughan Williams, the Bloch First Piano Quintet, and a chamber music work by a student in the composition program.

Today is Friday, August 8th.

A noon Spotlight Recital takes place at the Aspen Community Church featuring some of this summer’s most talented students. Admission is free.

At 2pm today in the Aspen Chapel, top piano students offer a free recital.

The Aspen Chamber Symphony gives a concert at 6pm today, with Jane Glover (GLUV-er) conducting. Alisa Weilerstein will play Haydn’s D major Cello Concerto and soprano Susanna Phillips will sing selections from Richard Strauss’s Brentano Lieder. Beethoven’s buoyant 8th Symphony concludes the program.

Tomorrow at 10am, the Aspen Opera Theater Center will perform staged opera scenes as part of a master class in the Wheeler Opera House.

At 8pm tomorrow, conductor Harry Bicket will be joined by star soloists for a Baroque Evening featuring works by Rameau and JS Bach.

Sunday morning at 9pm in Harris Concert Hall, the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra will perform works by composition students which will then be discussed by a distinguished panel. The event is free.

James Feddeck conducts the Aspen Festival Orchestra on Sunday at 4pm in the Benedict Music Tent in Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto with Nikolai Lugansky, Dvorak’s Carnival Overture and Scriabin’s sensuous Poem of  Ecstasy.

Bizet’s opera Carmen will be performed Sunday at 7pm at the Wheeler Opera House with additional performances on August 12th, 14th and 16th.

Today is Thursday, August 7th.

Pianist Inon Barnatan gives a master class this morning at 10am in Harris Concert Hall and then returns there this evening at 8:30pm for the Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in d minor, BWV 903, Schubert’s G major sonata, D. 894, Franck’s prelude, choral and fugue, the US premiere of Pintscher’s whirling tissue of light, and the Barber sonata.

At 10:30am this morning at the Pitkin County Library, it’s Tunes and Tales, a free program for ages 4-9 with an adult. Listen to enchanting stories along with classical favorites performed by AMFS students.

Lots of other free events today: at noon, it’s a Spotlight Recital at the Aspen Community Church, with a diverse program featuring top student talent. At 2pm in Harris Concert Hall, two ensembles from the Advanced Quartet program, the Ariadne and Zora String Quartets, give a recital in Harris Concert Hall. Chapel Chamber Music takes place at 4:15pm in the Aspen Chapel, and at 5:15pm the Basalt Regional Library is the site of a recital. A String Showcase at 8:30pm tonight will be offered in Edlis Neeson Hall on the Bucksbaum Campus.

Today is Wednesday, August 6th.

Join Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation with pianist Inon Barnatan and violinist Stefan Jackiw today at noon in Paepcke Auditorium. These High Notes programs are always free, and offer fascinating insights about the music and musicians you’re enjoying this summer.

Harris Concert Hall is the place to be at 3 today when top students showcase their talents in a free Spotlight Recital.

At 6, James Feddeck leads the Aspen Philharmonic in John Adams’s high-energy Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Stefan Jackiw joins the orchestra for Prokofiev’s challenging Second Violin Concerto, and the concert concludes with the majestic First Symphony by Brahms.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein will give a solo recital tonight at 8:30 in Harris Concert Hall. Along with the 3rd Bach Cello Suite, she’ll play works by Benjamin Britten, Osvaldo Golijov and Zoltan Kodaly.

Classical Music from Aspen host Chris Mohr chats with Opera Director Ed Berkeley about this weekend's opening night performance of Carmen. Then we talk about the nine Ballades of three composers performed by Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen in this evening's piano recital at Harris Hall at 7:30 pm. Festival Showcase ends with a conversation with star mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard about her career, aspirations, and challenges as a single mother.

Today is Tuesday, August 5th.

A free Spotlight Recital today at noon at the beautiful Aspen Chapel showcases top student talent.

At 1 today in Harris Concert Hall, cellist Alisa Weilerstein gives a master class. Her solo recital will be tomorrow at 8:30pm in Harris.

At 4pm today, the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra gives a free concert featuring this summer’s conducting students. The winner of the brass/percussion competition will play a concerto, and the tragic and beautiful 6th Symphony of Tchaikovsky concludes the program.

Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen plays Ballades of Grieg and Brahms and all four of the Chopin Ballades tonight at 7:30pm in Harris Concert Hall.

Today is Monday, August 4th.

Today’s the last Gotta Move! program of the season for kids 2-7 accompanied by an adult. Meet at 10:30am at the Bucksbaum Campus Administration Building and watch your children discover the basics of beat, tune and rhythm through stories, movement, and a short performance by AFMS students. Admission is free.

Hear this summer’s finest harp students as they compete today at 5pm in Castle Creek I on the Bucksbaum Campus. These competitions are always free and you can attend all or part of the event.

Jonathan Haas conducts the Aspen Percussion Ensemble today at 6pm in Harris Concert Hall. The program includes Peter Schickele’s Percussion Sonata No. 1, subtitled “Aspen.”

Today is Friday, August 1st.

One of the Aspen Music School’s most illustrious alumni, Sarah Chang, returns to the Festival tonight at 6pm for the Dvorak Violin Concerto. Hugh Wolff conducts the Aspen Chamber Symphony in a program that also includes Ligeti’s Roumanian Concerto, the gorgeous Prelude from Capriccio by Richard Strauss, and one of the most beloved American classics, Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

Tomorrow at 10am at the Wheeler Opera House, the up and coming stars of the Aspen Opera Theater Center will be joined by the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra for staged opera scenes complete with supertitles.

Head up to the top of Aspen Mountain by gondola (or if you’re a strong hiker, by foot) to enjoy the view and the free 1:00pm Music on the Mountain concert.

At 4:30pm tomorrow, it’s Chamber Music in Harris Concert Hall, featuring the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble conducted by Sydney Hodkinson and a performance of Schumann’s melodious Piano Quintet, opus 44.

A free piano competition takes place tomorrow at 6pm in Edlis Neeson Hall on the Bucksbaum Campus.

At 8pm tomorrow in Harris Concert Hall, don’t miss a rare chance to see a duo recital by superstars mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and guitarist Sharon Isbin in an all-Spanish and Latin-American program. Then on Sunday at 6:30pm in Paepcke Auditorium, there will be a screening of Sharon Isbin: Troubadour, a documentary about this extraordinary artist.

Leonard Slatkin returns to conduct the Aspen Festival Orchestra on Sunday at 4pm in the Benedict Music Tent, joined by Garrick Ohlssohn for the Chopin Second Piano Concerto. Fandangos by Roberto Sierra and the Richard Strauss Alpine Symphony also on that program.

Christopher O’Riley’s popular radio show From the Top comes to Harris Concert Hall this Sunday at 8pm.  Be part of the audience during this live taping featuring top AMFS students.

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