Festival Notes

A daily walk through of Aspen Music Festival and School events. Featuring a daily schedule and interesting background information on the Festival's artists, students and featured composers, Festival Notes prepares audiences for their day's musical journey.

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.

Today is Thursday, July 31st. A busy day at the Aspen Music Festival and School with a variety of events, many of them free.

Pianist Julian Martin will give a master class at 10am this morning in Harris Concert Hall.

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

Today at noon at the Aspen Community Church, there’s a free Spotlight Recital showcasing top students.

Chapel Chamber Music takes place today at 4:15pm at the Aspen Chapel with a diverse program played by talented ensembles. Admission is free.

At 5pm at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, guitar students of Sharon Isbin will offer a free recital.

The Basalt Regional Library hosts a free recital today at 5:15pm.

Pianist Andreas Haefliger performs works of Beethoven, Berio and Schumann tonight at 8pm in Harris Concert Hall.

The weekly free String Showcase with some of this summer’s finest string students will be offered tonight at 8:30pm in Edlis Neeson Hall on the Bucksbaum campus.

Today is Wednesday, July 30th.

Singer-songwriter-composer Rufus Wainwright shares insights on his music today during a free High Notes conversation in Paepcke Auditorium today at noon. At 8:30pm tonight in Harris Concert Hall, scenes from Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna will be performed by members of the Aspen Opera Theater Singers and Metropolitan Opera soprano Deborah Voigt. That recital, called “The Beautiful Voice” also includes scenes from Strauss’s comic masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier.

First Glimpse, a free recital of works by this summer’s composition students, takes place at 3pm today in Harris Concert Hall.

The Aspen Philharmonic conducted by Hannu Lintu will give a concert at 6pm in the Benedict Music Tent. Two works by Sibelius: the nationalistic Finlandia, and the exquisite and virtuosic Violin Concerto with solists Augustin Hadelich, followed by the Fifth Symphony of Prokofiev. Fourteen years had passed since Prokofiev's last symphony, and World War II was still raging during the symphony's gestation. Prokofiev composed it in a safe haven run by the Soviet Union. He intended the symphony as "a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit.” He added "I cannot say that I deliberately chose this theme. It was born in me and clamoured for expression. The music matured within me. It filled my soul."

Today is Tuesday, July 29th.

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

At 1pm, longtime Aspen Music School faculty member Paul Kantor gives a violin master class in Harris Concert Hall.

The American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra gives a free concert today at 4pm in the Benedict Music Tent, featuring this summer’s conducting students in Beethoven’s Second Symphony and Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration. The Orchestra will also be joined by this summer’s Low Strings Competition winner.

At 7:30pm tonight, the American String Quartet returns to Aspen for a performance of the late Beethoven Quartet in E flat major, op. 127 and the lyrical Piano Quintet in A  by Dvorak with Anton Nel at the piano.

Today is Monday, July 28th.

Restless children of all ages are invited to Gotta Move!, a free program exploring the basics of beat, tune and rhythm through stories, movement and a short performance by AMFS students. It’s for ages 2-7 accompanied by an adult and takes place this morning at 10:30am on the Bucksbaum Campus. Meet at the Administration Building.

At 6pm this evening in Harris Concert Hall, members of the Aspen Music School faculty have chamber music for your enjoyment. They’ll be playing the Suite liturgique by Andre Jolivet and the Grand Septet by Franz Berwald, a Swedish Romantic composer who was generally ignored during his lifetime and who made his living as an orthopedic surgeon and later as the manager of a saw mill and glass factory.

Today is Friday, July 25th.

Jeremy Denk gives a piano master class today at 10am in Harris Concert Hall.

Two free programs today, a Spotlight Recital at noon in the Aspen Community Church and a 2pm piano recital in the Aspen Chapel.

Christian Arming conducts the Aspen Chamber Symphony in Debussy’s Six epigraphes antiques in an arrangement by Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher tonight at 6pm in the Benedict Music Tent. Lynn Harrell will join the orchestra for the 3rd Cello Concerto of Augusta Read Thomas, “Legend of the Phoenix.” Also on the program, Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen and the Catfish Row Suite from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

The American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra teams up with the Aspen Opera Theater Center for an Opera Scenes Master Class tomorrow at 10am in the Wheeler Opera House.

At 7pm tomorrow at the Wheeler, it’s the second and final performance of Lowell Liebermann’s opera The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Mahler’s mammoth 3rd Symphony is the single work on Sunday’s 4:00pm Aspen Festival Orchestra concert. Robert Spano conducts and will be joined by Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, the Colorado Children’s Chorale and the Women’s Voices of the Aspen Opera Theater Center.

Today is Thursday, July 24th.

Got kids 4-9 years old? Then head to the Pitkin County Library at 10:30am this morning for Tunes and Tales, a free program which will enchant you and your children with stories and classical favorites performed by AMFS students.

The Aspen Community Church is the site for today’s free noon Spotlight Recital, with talented students playing a diverse program.

First Glimpse, a performance of works by this summer’s composition program students, takes place today at 4:15pm at the Aspen Chapel. The program is free.

The Basalt Regional Library hosts a free recital today at 5:15pm.

Lowell Liebermann’s opera The Picture of Dorian Gray will be performed tonight and Saturday at 7pm in the Wheeler Opera House, presented by the Aspen Opera Theater Center and conducted by Colorado favorite Michael Christie. This rich tonal setting of Oscar Wilde’s novel explores art, hedonism, and the outer boundaries of morality.

Soprano Deborah Voigt joins acclaimed singer-songwriter-composer Rufus Wainwright for a special event tonight at 8pm in Harris Concert Hall. Wainwright is known for his brilliant originality in pop, jazz, classical and theater works.

Top string players perform tonight at 8:30pm in a free String Showcase in Edlis Neeson Hall on the Bucksbaum Campus.

Today is Wednesday, July 23rd.

Lowell Liebermann’s opera The Picture of Dorian Gray, a rich tonal setting of Oscar Wilde’s novel, will be performed tomorrow and Saturday at 7pm at the Wheeler Opera House. Today at noon in Paepcke Auditorium, the composer will join Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher to discuss the work. Also on this free High Notes program, pianist Jeremy Denk, who plays a recital this evening at 8:30pm in Harris Concert Hall featuring Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Ives’s Second Piano Sonata.

A free Spotlight recital today at 3pm in Harris Concert Hall showcases top students in an eclectic program.

The Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Aspen Music Festival Music Director Robert Spano performs today at 6pm in the Benedict Music Tent. A world premiere of a work by Luke Carlson opens the program, and then Dejan Lazic will play his own Piano Concerto in the Istrian Style, also a world premiere. Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra concludes this adventurous program.

Today is Tuesday, July 22nd.

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

Hear some of the season’s top student talent today at noon in a free Spotlight Recital at the Aspen Chapel.

See an opera diva share tricks of the trade when superstar soprano Deborah Voigt teaches a master class for students of the Aspen Opera Theater Center today at 1pm in Harris Concert Hall.

At 7:30pm tonight, Robert Spano will be at the piano in Harris Concert Hall when he and mezzo-soprano Monica Groop present a recital. Schoenberg’s evocative early work, Verklaerte Nacht opens the program, and then you’ll have a rare chance to hear Frank Martin’s powerful setting of Rilke’s narrative cycle of prose poems Der Cornet.

Today is Monday, July 21st.

Today and every Monday throughout the Festival at 10:15am, 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.

You can also take a free guided backstage tour of the Benedict Music Tent and Harris Concert Hall, today and every Monday through August 11th at noon. Meet on the Tent Plaza.

Composition Number 2, “Dies Irae” by Ustvolskaya and the Cesar Franck Piano Quintet will be played at 6pm today in the Benedict Music Tent.

The film “The Great Flood,” about the Mississippi River flood of 1927, will be shown tonight at 8pm in Harris Concert Hall with the score performed live by Bill Frisell, electric guitar, Ron Miles, trumpet, Tony Scherr, bass and guitar, and Kenny Wollesen, drums and vibraphone.

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