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IMPROMPTU A Magazine About the Aspen Music Festival and School

Summer 2017 | FREE

SINGERSONGWRITERTURNED-OPERA COMPOSER

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT IN ASPEN!

Plus THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE FOR WOMEN COMPOSERS GENRE-BENDING BASSIST EDGAR MEYER THE CONCERTO'S ETERNAL APPEAL FROM STAGE TO SCREEN: CLASSICALIMPROMPTU MUSIC AT THE MOVIES SUMMER 2017

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CONTENTS

ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL AND SCHOOL 2017 SEASON JUNE 29–AUGUST 20 This summer, the Aspen Music Festival and School explores the ideas of magic and transformation with a season theme of Enchantment, offering up a schedule overflowing with works inspired by myth, fairy tales, magic spells, love, and the transcendent delights of nature. Music is full of this kind of enchantment, whether it be household objects fantastically coming to life in Ravel’s opera L’enfant et les sortilèges; a mermaid who wishes to become human in Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid; or the spellbinding power of storytelling in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. These and many more await audiences as part of the AMFS’s 69th season. With hundreds of events over eight weeks—including performances by five full orchestras, dozens of chamber music concerts, fully produced operas, and master classes, lectures, and children’s events—the 2017 AMFS season is a musical feast, enjoyable for one perfect evening or for an entire, glorious summer. A full schedule of events is available at www.aspenmusicfestival.com. For an abridged schedule, see pages 3338. For tickets and information, visit www.aspenmusicfestival.com or call the AMFS Box Office at 970-925-9042.

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RUFUS IS BACK!

It’s not every day that a pop star composes an opera, but Rufus Wainwright spends this summer in Aspen working on his second. Find out how this singer-songwriter can conquer two seemingly opposite genres and why he's counting on the mountains to bring him added inspiration.

FEATURES

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Works by women account for only 1.3 percent of all pieces played by major orchestras—but the times are changing. Find out how Aspen's own composition program is helping lead the way toward balanced representation of compositional talent.

The genre-bending bassist has collaborated with everyone from Béla Fleck to Yo-Yo Ma. Find out why he never confined himself to one musical box, and get to know him before his eclectic recital on August 17.

EVENING THE PLAYING FIELD

EDGAR MEYER COMES HOME

ON THE COVER AND ABOVE RUFUS WAINWRIGHT PHOTOS: MATTHEW WELCH

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Celebrated bassist Edgar Meyer, an Aspen alumnus and artist-faculty member, performs an intimate recital in Aspen on August 17.

IMPROMPTU

NOTES

EDITOR IN CHIEF Laura E. Smith MANAGING EDITORS Jessica Cabe and Tamara Vallejos ASSISTANT EDITOR Christina Thomsen GRAPHIC DESIGN BeeSpring Designs CONTRIBUTORS James Inverne and Grace Lichtenstein

FROM THE FESTIVAL

Impromptu is a publication of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

CONTACT Aspen Music Festival and School 225 Music School Road Aspen, CO 81611 info@aspenmusic.org ADMINISTRATION 970-925-3254 BOX OFFICE 970-925-9042

This summer, the Aspen Music Festival and School celebrates one of the most beloved, enduring forms in classical music: the concerto. Find out why audiences still can’t resist this dramatic battle between soloist and orchestra. 28

FROM STAGE TO SCREEN Various guest artists performing at the Aspen Music Festival and School this summer have worked on highprofile movie soundtracks, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Departed. Get a peek behind the scenes.

5 NOTES FROM THE FESTIVAL Jonathan Biss continues his Beethoven cycle; superstar alumni perform in Aspen; ways to save on summer music; Berlioz's epic The Damnation of Faust; and more. 8 ASK THE MUSICIANS AMFS artists share their favorite representation of musicianship in an artform other than music. 33 ABRIDGED EVENTS CALENDAR Explore just some of the hundreds of events taking place this summer. 39 FACULTY FOCUS AMFS artist-faculty on balancing professional performance careers and the demands of teaching. 42 STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Young bassoonist Andrew Genemans explains why being a musician is "literally freedom."

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www.aspenmusicfestival.com

2017 SEASON JUNE 29–AUGUST 20, 2017 Robert Spano Music Director Alan Fletcher President and CEO

ELLE LOGAN

LIFE IS A CONCERTO

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

JIM MCGUIRE

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NOTES FROM THE FESTIVAL

NOTES FROM THE FESTIVAL

Illustrious alumni The Aspen Music Festival and School serves as a training ground for future classical music greats, and no further proof is needed than its remarkable list of alumni, many of whom are returning to Aspen as guest artists this season. Returning alumni include legendary soprano Renée Fleming (July 27 and 30), beloved violinist Sarah Chang (July 14 and 19), masterful cellist Alisa Weilerstein (August 15 and 18), world-renowned guitarist Sharon Isbin (August 5), genre-bending bassist Edgar Meyer (August 17), the Pacifica Quartet (July 26), acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham (July 21 and 27), pianist Wu Han (June 29), violinist Stefan Jackiw (July 12), virtuoso pianist Conrad Tao (July 8 and 10), rising star violinist Simone Porter (June 30), and more.

Students the world over The AMFS welcomes more than 600 students from around the world each year, and for some, it’s quite the journey. MEHRDAD GHOLAMI | His hometown of Tehran, Iran, is more than 7,000 miles from Aspen, but it’s a journey he’s delighted to make. He’ll study with several of the AMFS’s talented flute instructors and play with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Renée Fleming

MANÉ GALOYAN | She’s a soprano and not afraid to take multiple planes across the world from Gyumri, Armenia, to study at the Aspen Opera Center with the AMFS’s own Stephen King.

Biss’s Beethoven cycle continues WAYS TO SAVE The Aspen Music Festival and School believes everyone should be able to experience classical music. Check out these four ways to enjoy music for free or inexpensively: • FREE EVENTS | The AMFS offers a wide variety of free events every day, from orchestra concerts to student recitals and learning opportunities like master classes. Visit www.aspenmusicfestival.com/events/calendar to find all the Festival’s free events.

• DRESS REHEARSALS | Another great way to experience the Aspen Chamber Symphony and Aspen Festival Orchestra, the AMFS’s most prestigious orchestras, is by attending a same-day dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsal tickets are only $20 and a lovely way to spend a summer morning.

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• $  5 CHILDREN’S TICKETS | Tickets to all regular events are only $5 for children ages three to seventeen. Additionally, the AMFS offers a $50 Youth Pass for children ages six to seventeen. For more information, call the AMFS Box Office at 970-925-9042.

RANNVEIG SARC | She’s a twenty-one-yearold violinist studying with Donald Weilerstein and Sylvia Rosenberg here in Aspen—an eleven-hour flight from her hometown of Kópavogur, Iceland.

The David Karetsky Music Lawn is always free and open to the public.

FINAL SUNDAY: The Damnation of Faust

ALEX IRVIN (TENT); ELLE LOGAN (SPANO)

• LAWN SEATING | The AMFS’s orchestra concerts are some of its most beloved events, and the great music of the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra (Wednesdays at 6 pm), Aspen Chamber Symphony (Fridays at 6 pm), and Aspen Festival Orchestra (Sundays at 4 pm) can be experienced for free by bringing a blanket or lawn chair to the David Karetsky Music Lawn, just outside the Benedict Music Tent. Experience great classical music in the heart of Aspen’s natural beauty, absolutely free.

Jonathan Biss

PATRICIA QUINTERO GARCIA | Aspen is a 7,700-foot elevation change from Havana, Cuba, but she’ll deal with some ear popping to be part of the Advanced Quartet Studies program this summer with the Pacifica Quartet.

DECCA/ANDREW ECCLES (FLEMING); BENJAMIN EALOVEGA (BISS)

Pianist and Beethoven master Jonathan Biss returns to Aspen for his second in a three-year cycle of performing all thirty-two Beethoven sonatas. “Playing Beethoven does not feel like a matter of choice,” Biss says of his own strong connection to the composer. Go deeper with Biss’s full course on these sonatas on Coursera (www.coursera.org). Aspen concerts August 1 and 8.

The AMFS always closes out with a bang, and its 2017 season is no exception. Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, a monumental dramatic legend based on Goethe’s Faust, features Robert Spano leading the Aspen Festival Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and world-class soloists Sasha Cooke, Bryan Hymel, John Relyea, and Federico De Michelis. The Damnation of Faust is recognized as a classic of dazzling orchestration, dramatic pacing, harmonic inventiveness, and remarkable melodies. Because of the enormous forces required, complete performances are a rarity, so don’t miss this spectacular event capping off the enchanting 2017 season.

AMFS Music Director Robert Spano

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pended animation? The gestures, the posture, the look—it’s just palpable with motion and music, and this world is successfully depicted.

STEFAN JACKIW VIOLINIST AND AMFS ALUMNUS

Ask the Musicians

“WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DEPICTION OF MUSICIANSHIP IN A DIFFERENT MEDIUM?” ROBERT SPANO AMFS MUSIC DIRECTOR

JONATHAN HAAS AMFS ARTIST-FACULTY MEMBER AND TIMPANIST

Any of the operatic or instrumental works inspired by Orpheus are especially important to me, since he is the Ur-musician: the sorcerer who can enchant the natural world, the shaman who can travel to other worlds, the high-priest who can channel the divine into our world. Could there be any more lofty ancestor to our art?

ALAN FLETCHER AMFS PRESIDENT AND CEO In visual art, I would put Matisse’s The Piano Lesson and Vermeer’s The Music Lesson at the top of my list. Both show concentration, beauty, dedication, a little mystery—all the elements of great teaching. In literature, two massive choices: the treatment of the “little theme” from an imaginary violin and piano sonata by the fictional Vinteuil, taking place over many hundreds of pages, in Proust’s immense A la recherche du temps perdu; and Thomas Mann’s

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The Music Lesson, Johannes Vermeer

imagined portrait of Schoenberg in Doktor Faustus. In both cases, the authors—neither a musician—understand profoundly what musicians think and feel as they make music. There are so many great, and so many silly, portrayals of musicians in movies! Maybe it doesn’t count, but Bergman’s The Magic Flute is a miracle of filmmaking and love for music.

Look closely at the painting Timpani Concert of Georg Roth, Vienna, 29 April 1798, and you will see the timpanist is surrounded by no fewer than sixteen timpani, holding three timpani mallets in each hand! This piece of artwork became the inspiration for my pursuit of a career as a solo timpanist. I wanted to be just like Georg Roth, and in many modern ways, I accomplished that goal. Although Roth was pictured playing sixteen timpani, I ended up playing a total of fourteen timpani (between myself and a timpanist colleague), after having commissioned in 2000 the Philip Glass Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra. Although it seemed farfetched to many that such a concerto could have existed at this period, I was far from dissuaded from creating my own modern solo timpani repertoire— thus joining the ranks of maverick timpanists who had a propensity for the slightly absurd but creative opportunity to showcase timpani in a most un-

disparate elements of ourselves. Music is a balm to fragmentation.

TENGKU IRFAN PIANIST AND AMFS STUDENT

Timpani Concert of Georg Roth, Vienna, 29 April 1798

usual musical setting. My mission was accomplished, with more than seventy performances of the Glass concerto performed with leading orchestras throughout the world.

ASADOUR SANTOURIAN AMFS VICE PRESIDENT FOR ARTISTIC ADMINISTRATION AND ARTISTIC ADVISOR I would choose Dancer Ready to Dance by Degas because you can see the gesture is buoyed by music, and she’s launched into the posture with a sense of music (whether there was music or not in the room). I think, not just with that sculpture but with other sculptures and pastels of his, he has managed to capture music in motion even though it’s a snapshot, even though it’s animated suspension, even though it’s frozen in midair. But the sense of the momentum and the whirl of music is very much represented in the motion depicted, and, to me, it’s always beyond surprising and an astonishing double-take I make because I think, How did he manage to do that? How did he manage to capture music in motion in something frozen in sus-

I would probably choose films, for the simple reason that music in its actual form may make up part of the depiction. There are many films where music or musicianship plays a strong part in it, in not only being the soundtrack but also as part of the story. The last film I watched with music as its core subject matter was probably Whiplash. The story about the struggles of an aspiring young musician trying to make it in an institution and the music world in general is interesting.

SIMONE PORTER VIOLINIST AND AMFS ALUMNA Writing about music is immensely difficult, but Karl Ove Knausgaard conveys music’s stunning capabilities with precision and grace in his book My Struggle: “Everything that had happened in the past five years rose like steam from a cup when I played a record, not in the form of thoughts or reasoning, but as moods, openings, space… If my memories were stacked in a heap on the back of my life’s trailer, music was the rope that held them together and kept it, my life, in position.” I was struck by this evocation of music’s ineffable capacities: its function as both a capsule that holds the nebulous sensations and impressions that comprise a remembered identity and as the binding material that maintains the cohesion of the individual. This passage communicates art’s ability to facilitate internal integration, a power that is amplified in live performance. I’ve often thought of making music as an exercise in connectivity, and the conversation it inspires is with other individuals as well as the

For me, one of the most poignant depictions of music in a different medium appears in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Arrow and the Song.” To me, this poem so beautifully describes the power of music to connect people on a deeply emotional level. Sometimes we feel the connection immediately; other times, we only realize the bond “long, long afterward.” While perhaps Longfellow meant that he found the song in the heart of an old friend, I like to think that the kinship was formed by the communion of sharing a musical experience. Also, I think the juxtaposition of the arrow and the song is meaningful. One is a symbol of conflict, violence, even hatred, while the other, equally powerful and enduring, brings love, understanding, and harmony.

THE ARROW AND THE SONG I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight. I breathed a song into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For who has sight so keen and strong, That it can follow the flight of song? Long, long afterward, in an oak I found the arrow, still unbroke; And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend. —HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Reporting by Christina Thomsen and Laura E. Smith

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RUFUS IS BACK NICK HELDERMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

POP LEGEND RUFUS WAINWRIGHT ON ASPEN, OPERA, AND THE CHALLENGES AND JOYS OF GENRE-HOPPING

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Rufus Wainwright is perhaps best known as a pop singer-songwriter, but this prolific artist is currently working on his second opera—and is spending much of this summer in Aspen, where he’ll infuse his composition with the special inspiration only the mountains can provide. Amid his composing, he’ll also present a July 24 recital of his pop songs in new arrangements for string orchestra, proving he will never allow himself to be defined by just one thing. by Ben Finane and adapted with permission from Listen magazine Visit www.listenmusicculture.com

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Rufus Wainwright was born the son of singer-songwriters Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, and quickly followed in the family profession. He began piano at the age of six and joined the family ensemble in his early teens. His eponymous debut album (on DreamWorks) met with critical success, and he has since put out an additional eight studio albums, most recently Prima Donna, an opera, and Take All My Loves, a collection of Shakespeare sonnets (both on Deutsche Grammophon), along with three live albums, including Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall (Geffen), an homage to Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall (Capitol). Wainwright is easy to talk to, with an occasional, endearing stammer and an easy laugh.

"I am convinced that opera is the greatest art form that has ever existed."

I’ve been listening to a lot of Rufus Wainwright. Something I hear across all your various guises is how you use so much voice. I know it’s hard for people to talk about their style, but I guess that’s what I’m asking: how did you come to your style?

MATTHEW WELCH

Well, I grew up in a family of great singers—my dad, my mom, sisters, aunt, and so forth—so it was always around: this idea of interpreting songs. It was something I was familiar with at an early age, as a kind of mountain to tackle. You know there was nothing dilettante-ish about singing as a child in our family. It was always completely viewed with a professional lens. So I had that attitude early on, thanks to my upbringing. Then at around thirteen, fourteen, I discovered opera and became a massive fan. I really listened to opera exclusively for many years—with some exceptions, like Nina Simone, or Sonic Youth, odd sort of droppings from the canon. But in listening to opera singers I think I just instinctively started to imitate them, in terms of long phrases, vibrato, and a sort of dramatic arc that they utilize. I took a few vocal lessons at one point, but dropped out of that because the guy didn’t like my shoes [laughs]—the voice teacher didn’t like the fact that I was wearing clogs—so I decided to not pursue my career as an opera singer. But I constantly referred back to that. It’s interesting, because recently I did a concert with Renée Fleming—the two of us did a show together—and she commented how there’s a lot of things that I do that are somewhat impossible for either a pop singer or an opera singer. And I do credit that to my lack of education [chuckles], mixed with my passion for classical music. I kind of created a hybrid of the two.

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You’re able to just step in and out of genres and orchestrations while still being yourself: always being recognizably Rufus. Is there a set of clothes in which you’re most comfortable? Well no, there isn’t, to be honest. I think that’s why I’ve been so successful in terms of creating my own sound. I think in anything that I try to put forth, whether it’s a good song or a good opera or a good piano arrangement, I’m always reaching toward some impossible

RUFUS ON ASPEN What’s your relationship with Aspen and the Aspen Music Festival and School? I’ve known about the Festival for many, many years, but the town I’ve had several run-ins with. My husband and I come every year during the holiday, whether it’s Christmas or New Year; we’re very close friends with Richard Edwards, who owns the Caribou Club, so we stay with him often, and I usually play the Belly Up. On the classical end I’m not as ubiquitous but, certainly when I wear my pop hat, I’ve had many Aspen evenings. So it’s exciting now because I’m sort of shifting into that other glorious world, which is Aspen in the summertime. I played the Festival once a couple years ago, but now I’ll really be there for the whole month of July working on the opera, so I’m taking over the town, utterly and completely. What are you looking forward to about your time in Aspen? I’m there to really work on the opera; I’m down to the wire here in terms of delivering this behemoth, Hadrian. July is really focused on that task, and being up in the mountains definitely harkens back to an earlier kind of method of, I’d say, probably mostly German composers who go up into the Alps and finish their symphonies. So I’m kind of following in that tradition. Let’s hope the music is somewhere near as good! In addition to the mountains, what makes Aspen a great place to write an opera? I think it’s sort of quid pro quo, you know? I mean, someone at the Festival houses me, one of the kind benefactors. So I stay there, and then I get to use the orchestra occasionally to test things out, and then I get to work with certain singers and workshop scenes and stuff, and I also do a show as a kind of “thank you,” as well. So I think it’s just artists helping each other, really, from both sides of the fence. —Tamara Vallejos


goal on the other end. I’ll try to write a song while thinking of a Mahler symphony, knowing full well that they’ll never meet, in a sense. There’s always this impossible task; in the end, I think the residue is that the listener can hear the artist trying to do something. [Laughs] That’s all it really is—a sound—that’s what a sound really is: some kind of effort. But then, to reverse that, when I’m not writing an opera, I’ll almost go more towards, you know, just a simple song. I should think more in terms of folk melody or a brilliant Beatles tune in terms of what I’m trying to express with a massive orchestra. So I think it’s the never-quite-being-pinned-down that is, if not the secret to my success, the motor that keeps it going [laughs].

How are the challenges different— and this is a naïve question—between writing a song, as a singer-songwriter, versus writing an opera? What’s the difference between the two animals? Well for one thing, they’re completely opposite, in the sense that when I’m writing a song, it very much springs from an extremely personal existence or experience. And it’s something that will hit me occasionally with inspiration, and then I go forth and write it—or if I sit down and try to do it, the muses will appear. But in terms of an opera, you have to finish that opera [laughs], come hell or high water, and when you’re doing

that you can just hook into all of the job that has to be accomplished—whether it’s the orchestration or the drama or the melodies, and you’re just inundated with tasks. So it becomes much more of a Herculean situation.

puters, held my hand along the way as we went on that journey, but I did all the heavy lifting, and I was there the whole time. Now I’m orchestrating my second one. I learned how to do it by doing it! Mostly [laughs]. There’s a way to go.

I imagine you have to break it up into smaller tasks.

What do you think attracted you to opera as a teenager?

Yeah, and I think both methods complement each other, so I am thankful that in working so hard the muse will visit me sometimes when I’m working on the opera or when I go into the studio and cut tracks. And that’s also labor intensive, but I have that work ethic down pat. But one is far more mysterious, while the other is really more mechanical. [Laughs] They complement one another, but they are very different.

First, all experiences aside, I am convinced that opera—when it works—is the greatest art form that has ever existed on the planet. I believe in that, and there are moments when everything comes together: the singers, the orchestra, the stage direction, the actual acoustics of the hall. And when all of that hits a home run, I don’t think anything surpasses it. That’s my core belief. That being said, when the passion arose, it was definitely at an intersection of my life that was kind of screaming out for those dramatic gestures. For one, I knew about my sexuality when I was very young—I accepted my homosexuality when I was thirteen—and right around that time, 1986, ’87, AIDS was decimating the gay male population. So there was this gnarly mix of sexual awakening and also an intimate acquaintance with death. So opera really spoke volumes in both of those departments. For me, it’s akin to what a lot of other people my age got into when they started listening to Nirvana, let’s say, or grunge from the West Coast.

Do you have to bone up on orchestration before tackling the opera? I went to music school for a little bit: I went to McGill in Montreal; I didn’t finish. And later on when I started working with producers on my albums, I started orchestrating a lot for those works. That’s when I first got my toes wet in the field of orchestration. When I wrote Prima Donna—my first opera—I was very insistent on orchestrating it myself. I did have a couple of young assistants from Yale who, with the help of com-

AN EVENING OF CONVERSATION WITH RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright returns to Aspen this summer with a recital on July 24, but the AMFS Salon offers one more way to experience this musical great. Its Salon Signature Event, In Process: Rufus Wainwright and Jim Hodges, Mod-

erated by Richard Edwards, features a conversation between Wainwright and longtime friend and accomplished visual artist Jim Hodges on the synergy between music and art. This is an exclusive event for Salon members. The Salon is an AMFS initiative with the

goal of nurturing the next generation of classical music enthusiasts and concert-goers by providing uniquely curated artistic and cultural events. Visit www.aspenmusicfestival.com/salon to learn more and to become a Salon member.

There had to be something deeper, something darker and more intense than, say, Huey Lewis and the News [laughs heartily]. Nothing against Huey Lewis, of course, but I think the world took this kind of shift. Most people went to Kurt Cobain, and I went to Verdi and Wagner—similar, in a sense.

With the opera, the Shakespeare project, the Judy Garland project, I see a pattern forming of a postmodern artist appropriating past tropes and working with them. Is that a fair assertion? Yeah, the way that I like to define it at the moment—and I think that you could even say that with Prima Donna and quite possibly with Hadrian, my next opera—is that I’m not an iconoclast. If anything, I’m an icono-doctor [laughs]. And I think that falls very much in line with the world in general right now. Yes, if I had been born in 1895, I would’ve been very much in line with history— that one would want to smash the idols and start again. But in this era, it’s really about saving whatever’s left before it’s all completely ruined! It’s very much like the environment, or education, or health. We need to be more delicate with what’s available to us and restore some of our dignity. Because at this point if we just keep smashing things, it’s over.

Years ago, I was taking composition lessons and wrote a song cycle in French. My composition teacher warned me that people want Americans to write in their native, rube tongue. Prima Donna is also in French, it has recitative, it looks backward, and you’ve gotten some pushback for that, but I think it’s fair to say that those were conscious decisions. Yeah, I took a bullet in terms of that

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whole situation. Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, had commissioned Prima Donna initially. I was born in the United States, but raised in Montreal, so I speak fluent French. The opera took place in Paris, and the main character is from Montreal, so I just started writing in French because it seemed natural. Plus, for the very Romantic style I used, it just fit a lot better. The music started coming out of the words. But I kept telling Peter Gelb that eventually I would switch it into English, but the longer I went, the more I became convinced there was no real reason to do it in English, especially since it was the Met, which has surtitles. And finally he gave me an ultimatum: he said, "Either it’s in English, or we’re not doing it." And I said, "Well, it’s in French," and I walked away from the Metropolitan Opera. It was hard at the time, but I feel for any artist, as important as knowing your craft, being aware of what’s viable and not, just as important is being completely brutal in terms of what you want to do in the world and making those difficult choices.

Not to dwell on this, but it’s almost a Hollywood stance: to have a movie set in France with characters who don’t speak French, but speak English weez a-euh Fransh acksont—as opposed to an art film where people speak their native language. I hadn’t orchestrated an opera before, and my main concern was to focus on the task. That’s where I needed to concentrate, as opposed to the language. In my opinion, English does work in opera sometimes, and sometimes it really doesn’t, whereas French doesn’t generally have that problem. My new opera Hadrian is in English, and I’m enjoying that process. And it’s appropriate for me to do that now, because I am confident in my orchestrations, and I can really focus on setting in the English lan-

guage. But when I wrote Prima Donna, I was more interested in my orchestration prowess.

Does Hadrian occupy the same musical language and landscape as Prima Donna? The music is still very melodic, very Romantic. It’s a little more…brutal, a little more angular. In illustrating the Roman Empire, you can be pretty up to a certain extent [laughs]. Then you have to illustrate the reality—that it was a pretty awful place to live [laughs].

You mentioned how songwriting is a more mysterious process than writing an opera. Is there a ritual for you, or a ritualized process when you’re writing a song? In most cases, no. It either hits me or it doesn’t, and I’ll often find myself writing one without even knowing it. One thing that is for certain is that I can pretty much gauge that if I have a day off and I’m in a beautiful or interesting city—whether it’s Vienna or Minneapolis—and I have some time and I can walk across the town, by the end of that walk I’ll have a song. There’s something about walking and songwriting for me that works.

Do lyrics or music come first, or does it depend? Well, there will usually be a lyric and melody that pop up at the beginning, either the chorus, the opening, or some kind of bridge, but then the melody usually fulfills itself and I have to trail behind with the words a bit; the words come a little bit later. The music is like the blood and the lyrics are the bones.

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Evening the Playing Field Works by women composers account for just 1.3 percent of pieces performed by major orchestras. Among living composers’ works performed, those by women still only account for 10.3 percent of all pieces. But there are a few big signs that show the tides are changing, including within Aspen’s very own composition program.

ALINA NADOLU

By Jessica Cabe

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It seems there has never been a better time than now to be a female composer. Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin was programmed for the Metropolitan Opera’s 2016-17 season, the only opera this season by a living composer, and Du Yun won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music, beating out two other female finalists, Ashley Fure and Aspen Music Festival and School alumna Kate Soper, for the coveted award. Though there is still a long way to go before music by women receives equal representation as music by men, change that is usually slow seems to be ramping up, and one more example of this is coming directly from the Aspen Music Festival and School. This summer, the AMFS’s Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies will consist of five men and five women, marking the first time in the program’s decades-long history that the balance between male and female will be fifty-fifty. “There was no affirmative action whatsoever in the process,” says AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher, a composer himself. “I know absolutely every application was treated the same way, and so no one started out by saying, ‘Let’s really try to have more women.’ It just turned out that they rose to the top.” Fletcher says achieving a better gender balance in works programmed by major music institutions begins with achieving a better gender balance in composers’ educational programs, from high schools to universities to world-renowned summer training programs like Aspen’s. Fletcher says he is seeing more and more women studying composition, which is promising for the future of the field. “When I was at Juilliard [as a student, 1978-83], there were probably twenty-five composition students, and one was a woman,” Fletcher says. “You went to the composer’s forum every week, and all the faculty were men, and essentially all the students were men.”

In 1975, just before Fletcher began his studies at Juilliard, Ellen Zwilich was the first woman to earn a doctorate in music at the prestigious school, and, in 1983, was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, which she was awarded for her First Symphony. The progress since then has been immense, Fletcher says. “I was teaching a few weeks ago at a major school of music’s composition program, where I teach every year, and it has edged up to about a quarter women, but it started probably a tenth just even ten years ago.” Fletcher says he is encouraged by what he’s seeing in composition edu-

"I believe we need to reflect our community. I want our industry to look like a subway car in New York." — VIOLINIST JENNIFER KOH

cation, but it’s still an uneven picture. “I am certain it is true that, even at some great music schools and some great programs for high school-aged people, a young woman who says, ‘I want to be a composer,’ may actually have a mentor who says, ‘No,’” Fletcher says. “I hope that will be going away very soon, but I think that really still happens. I think there is a structural bias within our industry, still. I think it goes back to the early training, and it goes back to figuring out, ‘Who are these people who are being discouraging, and can we do something about that?’ I think to change that climate would be a specific form of encouragement.” Aspen is doing its part to create a

climate that does not tolerate intolerance. This year, in addition to having an equal number of male and female students, visiting composers will include AMFS alumna Augusta Read Thomas, Yuko Uebayashi, AMFS alumna Hannah Lash, and Judith Shatin, who has not only crafted a successful career as a composer, but has also served on the board of the International Alliance for Women in Music and as president of American Women Composers, Inc. When Shatin was beginning to get serious in her composition studies in the 1960s and ’70s, she said women in higher education programs were a real rarity. At this point in her career, though, as a successful composer and professor at the University of Virginia, where she founded the Virginia Center for Computer Music, she doesn’t really face sexism anymore. “I’m not really personally dealing with that,” Shatin says. “I’m certainly treated very well here and elsewhere. Has the situation for women in music changed? Yes. I have no doubt it’s improved, and I’ve no doubt there’s still a distance to be traveled.” The five female composition fellows set to study in Aspen this summer expressed similar sentiments. Obviously, if they’re studying in Aspen, they’ve been able to earn opportunities to hone their craft. But if the question is whether their experiences in composition are identical to the experiences of their male peers, the answer is still no. Twenty-seven-year-old Loren Loiacono says when she sets texts, like poems or novels, audience members often approach her asking what the autobiographical relevance of the music is because they expect works by women to be more personal than works by men. Twenty-four-year-old Kimberly Osberg says a teacher once told her, “What I love most about your music is you don’t try to write like a man.” “I think a lot of my colleagues have their horror stories,” Osberg says. “Sometimes, the comments aren’t even

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maybe the last few years how much it probably matters that the first living, breathing composer I met was a woman. I'm sure that affected my sense of, 'This is normal.'" —2017 AMFS COMPOSITION FELLOW SARAH GIBSON

stead, I just convinced myself that my gender would adjust to accommodate my choice of career.” Conversely, 2017 composition fellow Sarah Gibson says meeting Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Hig-

Composer Kaija Saariaho with flutist and AMFS alumna Camilla Hoitenga, AMFS Music Director Robert Spano, and baritone Matthew Worth at a 2016 Aspen Chamber Symphony concert; composer Judith Shatin sets up a robot arm to play a tabla for her piece Sic Transit (hear Shatin's piece Gregor's Dream on the July 24 Chamber Music program); composer Kaija Saariaho leads a composition class at the AMFS in 2016.

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HEAR THEIR VOICES

don at a young age provided inspiration and encouragement she wasn’t even entirely conscious of until recently. “I didn’t realize until maybe the last few years how much it probably matters that the first living, breathing composer I met was a woman,” Gibson says. “I’m sure that affected my sense of, ‘This is normal.’” Though the landscape for women composers today is much more promising than it was when Shatin was in college, the mere fact that questions about gender are still being posed is proof there is still work to be done. Violinist Jennifer Koh, who last year performed works in Aspen by Saariaho and who this year will play Anna Clyne's violin concerto The Seamstress with the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra on July 19, has had decades as a professional musician to grapple with the conversation surrounding gender in the industry. “I think for a long time, women felt like we couldn’t talk about any gender issues because we were trying to function in a world that was so dominat-

The Aspen Music Festival and School offers a variety of opportunities to hear great works by women composers this summer. • J  ULY 6 | A Recital by Marina Piccinini flute and Anneleen Lenaerts harp, featuring Yuko Uebayashi’s New Work (World Premiere) at 8 pm in Harris Concert Hall • J  ULY 19 | Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra with George Manahan conductor and Jennifer Koh violin, featuring Anna Clyne’s The Seamstress at 6 pm in the Benedict Music Tent • J  ULY 24 | Chamber Music featuring Judith Shatin’s Gregor’s Dream at 6 pm in the Benedict Music Tent • A  UGUST 7 | Percussion Ensemble featuring Augusta Read Thomas’s Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals) at 6 pm in Harris Concert Hall Violinist Jennifer Koh will perform Anny Clyne's violin concerto The Seamstress on July 19.

JUERGEN FRANK

"I didn't realize until

ELLE LOGAN (SAARIAHO); SARAH CRAMER SHIELDS (SHATIN); ELLE LOGAN (SAARIAHO)

made by a man.” In addition to offhand comments by members of the industry and audiences, popular culture has a role in the gender expectations still present in the field. For example, try to think of the last time you saw a composer in a movie or television show who was female. Representation is such a big issue in composition that Hannah Lash, a 2010 AMFS alumna and successful composer who now teaches at Yale University, says when she was five years old and just beginning to compose, she imagined she would become a man later in life to accommodate her career choice. “I just envisioned myself as a man when I imagined what I'd be like as an adult composer,” Lash says. “I'm sure this is because I had no female composition role models at that point. I just had no other framework and no other way of contextualizing myself. This gradually changed for me, but I think it was probably a way in which I subconsciously protected myself from feeling that, because I was female, composition could not be an option for me. In-

ed by men, and we didn’t want to be seen as ‘other,’” Koh says. “I don’t think we want to be defined by our sex at all, but it’s hard. How does one change the field if we don’t speak about this? If I don’t talk about it now, it’s going to be on the backs of people twenty years younger than me.” Koh, who has earned a reputation as a great champion of new music and works by living composers, says she does believe conscious efforts need to be made by the industry to seek out voices that have been historically underrepresented in classical music. In addition to seeking out women composers from whom to commission works, she’s interested in composers of color and young composers. “I believe very strongly that you have to invest in the future of the artform,” Koh says. “I believe we need to reflect—on stage, in music, in the voices being expressed—we need to reflect our community. And we need to make the effort to give opportunity to people who haven’t had it in the past. I kind of want our industry to look like a subway car in New York. So, what I always seek is a unique voice.” As for Aspen’s composition program, Fletcher only hopes the trend continues with a diverse group of fellows. “In addition to our students, we’ve had increasingly more woman guest composers, and then the students­­—if they’re a male student, here is their mentor being a female composer. And if they’re a female student, then they can observe, ‘Oh, not every single guest is a man.’ And that is significant.”

• A  UGUST 12 | Chamber Music featuring Hannah Lash’s Moth Sketches at 4:30 pm in Harris Concert Hall And don’t miss these free opportunities to hear compositions by the talented students of the Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies: • J  ULY 16 | Composition Program Readings at 9 am in Harris Concert Hall • J  ULY 20 | Composition Program Readings at 9 am in Harris Concert Hall • J  ULY 28 | First Glimpse: Composition Program Recital I at 8:30 pm in Harris Concert Hall • A  UGUST 3 | First Glimpse: Composition Program Recital II at 2:30 pm in Harris Concert Hall • A  UGUST 12 | Composer Showcase at 9 am in Harris Concert Hall

IMPROMPTU SUMMER 2017


EDGAR MEYER A GENRE-BENDING MASTER It’s not every bassist who can play bluegrass soulfully and meticulously with Béla Fleck and then turn around and perform his own double concerto composition alongside world-renowned classical violinist Joshua Bell. But Edgar Meyer, one of the Aspen Music Festival and School’s accomplished alumni, is not like other bassists. By Jessica Cabe

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ALEX IRVIN

JIM MCGUIRE

Banjoist Béla Fleck, bassist Edgar Meyer, and tabla player Zakir Hussain perform in Aspen in 2010.

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scribed in different ways,” Meyer says. “One component is that writing can be the direct result of musical curiosity. Many pieces I’ve written were simply an exploration of musical issues that I wanted to know more about. In retrospect, many of my favorite pieces were ones that I learned the most writing. Another angle is simply an innate urge to try to create something, in particular something beautiful.”

And he’s just a hell of a guy, he’s great to be around, and that’s what really makes it fun.” Classical violinist Joshua Bell, who has known Meyer since they were both music students, who commissioned and premiered Meyers’s double concerto in 2012, and who has collaborated with the bassist many other times, said working with Meyer changed him as a musician.

"Working alongside Edgar Meyer, I feel like Rocky, to an extent—I gotta get in shape. I really do feel that he's one

Violinist Joshua Bell rehearses in the Benedict Music Tent with Meyer in 2012 (left); Meyer and bassist Christian McBride perform at the Aspen Art Museum in 2016 in a concert presented by the AMFS and Jazz Aspen Snowmass (right) .

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of his existence, and to be around him would cause anyone to become enthusiastic about music.” This enthusiasm, passed from Meyer’s father to him, manifested in many ways; Meyer was not content to simply learn other people’s works. He wanted to compose, and he wanted to improvise, from a very early age. This desire was only amplified when, at around ten years old, his grandmother’s piano came into his life. “Sometime in my first ten years, we had my grandmother’s piano moved into our house,” Meyer says. “There was never a more exciting day for me. I had been playing bass for a while, but the piano offered possibilities of chords and simultaneous lines that took my breath away. From the time I got that piano onward, writing was a main component of my musical exploration.” In those early days, composition felt a lot like play. Meyer jokes that one of his earliest compositions was Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” with three or four notes changed. Now, Meyer’s compositions are still characterized by play and a childlike curiosity about music and his instrument. “My desire to write can be de-

—BASSIST CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE

CONNIE HEARD

fortlessly blend genres sets him apart from even the best bassists in either the classical or bluegrass realm, and it’s proven by the prolific musicians with whom he collaborates. Just this year, Meyer released an album of reconceived Bach trios with superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma and one of the hottest names in bluegrass, mandolinist Chris Thile. Perhaps more than any other recording, this one presents the most complete picture of Meyer as a musician. Its content comes from Bach, whom Meyer credits as his biggest inspiration as a composer. And what the trio has done with this source material through improvisation and reconception fits beautifully into Meyer’s bluegrass aesthetic. Meyer says studying multiple genres was a natural path for him as a budding musician because he enjoyed listening to everything as a kid. This appetite for variety in music came first and most strongly from his father, who was also a bassist and Meyer’s first teacher. “My father's enthusiasm for music defined my early existence,” Meyer says. “I wanted to learn as much as possible about anything that could mean so much to him. My father loved music in a wonderful way. It was the center

ALEX IRVIN (BELL, MEYER); STEVE MUNDINGER (MEYER, MCBRIDE)

Edgar Meyer is known for conquering multiple genres in a way many musicians are only ever able to conquer one. He has garnered praise from critics, audiences, and fellow musicians alike for his expert interpretations of classical, bluegrass, folk music, and more. Aspen audiences will have the chance to hear this acclaimed bassist in recital in Harris Concert Hall on August 17. The performance will be special both because of its intimacy—the Hall seats just 500—and because of Meyer’s relationship to the Music Festival, where he studied as a student, met his wife, and now watches his own son participate as a student and returns as a guest artist regularly. “Aspen is home for me,” Meyer says. “I met my wife Connie [Heard] in 1982 in Aspen, and our son George has grown up here. Many of our closest friends are here, and a lot of our history.” Connie is a longtime member of the AMFS artist faculty, teaching and playing violin in Aspen every summer; she is also on faculty at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and is a member of the Blair String Quartet with her own performing career. Hearing Meyer live is an experience unlike any other. His ability to ef-

of the greatest titans to ever play the instrument."

This love of creation is also evident in Meyer’s improvisation and collaboration with other musicians. And he is a master collaborator. Fellow renowned bassist Christian McBride says he first learned of Edgar Meyer in the early 1990s from his mentor and musical hero Ray Brown, who raved about Meyer and showed McBride videos of his playing. McBride and Meyer met for the first time years later, in 2000 at Victor Wooten’s bass camp in Tennessee. The two have been collaborating ever since. “Working alongside Edgar Meyer, I feel like Rocky, to an extent—I gotta get in shape,” McBride says with a laugh. “I really do feel that he’s one of the greatest titans to ever play the instrument. I’m not generally that nervous playing next to somebody, but oh boy, standing next to Edgar, I’ve got to get ready for him. I can’t describe that level of musicianship—someone who has a combination of great ideas, great musicianship, who’s empathetic and just great at playing the instrument. And he’s just so utterly creative. I think it’s rare, that level of creativity in any kind of musician.

“I learned so much from him and his friends,” Bell says. “I became a better musician because of it.” Meyer is a master collaborator who brings out the best of the musicians playing with him, but hearing him featured as a soloist is a treat in its own right. This summer in Aspen, audiences will have the opportunity to hear Meyer perform Bottesini’s Second Bass Concerto, among other works. “Bottesini was clearly an excellent bass player and my favorite of composers who wrote solo pieces for the bass,” Meyer says. “There is a way that his pieces fit on the instrument that seems necessarily informed by his virtuosity. My first performance of this piece that I can remember was in Aspen in 1982 or 1983. [Late AMFS artist-faculty member] Stuart Sankey helped me write a couple of cadenzas that I still play today. They have a youthful point of view that is fun for me to inhabit thirty-five years later.” Meyer’s relationship with Aspen is a deep one; he came here as a student, found love, found friends, found creative partners, and continues to return

Meyer and now-wife Connie Heard in Aspen as students in 1983 (top); Meyer and his son, George, who is now grown and an AMFS student (bottom).

to perform, give master classes, and be with family and friends. Given Meyer’s love of Aspen, it’s always a thrill to perform for the Festival community and to be able to bring them his genre-bending take on great music. Meyer says his perspective as a musician feeds into all aspects of his life, and his belief in the value of an open mind very well may come from his openness to music. “One of the most interesting parts of being involved in a wider spectrum of musical style is the exposure to many more people and their perspectives,” Meyer says. “It seems to me that many decisions that people make, both musical and otherwise, might often come out differently with access to more and broader points of view.”

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As the Aspen Music Festival and School announces “The Year of the Concerto,” Alan Fletcher, Inon Barnatan, and Nicholas McGegan tell former editor of Gramophone James Inverne why the age-old musical form continues to tantalize us.

The openings of concertos are very special moments. And—this is overly-simplistic—but I’ve always thought of them, of those openings, as falling into two groups. You have the, usually classical-period, concertos where the orchestra formally establishes a mood, a theme, or two, rounds back on itself, and in comes the soloist—Mozart does

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a lot of that. And then you have what has become the archetype of the form. Think Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, or the Sibelius or Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. An orchestral pulse, a gentle ebb and flow, really, little more, inviting and somehow daring the soloist to bring the melody. There’s a mystery there, an unknown—is the orchestra

friend or foe, is it going to use the massive resources still carefully husbanded to lift or crush this guest who has the temerity to stand and preach a solo line? The Aspen Music Festival and School has declared its 2017 concerto offerings as a major programming strand—"The Year of the Concerto." It is, in effect, a large-scale exploration of

ALEX IRVIN

By James Inverne

COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, PHOTO BY TODD ROSENBERG (CLYNE, KOH)

Life is a CONCERTO

the concerto form—of why it remains so very popular, although it appears to have changed its structure little over the centuries. This season, there will be presentations of several new concertos, including a piano concerto by AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher, played by Inon Barnatan under AMFS Music Director Robert Spano. Fletcher has a particularly intense perspective on all of this just now, as he readily admits. He has recently completed the piano concerto for Barnatan (which will later be performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), as well as a violin concerto for Daniel Hope and his Zurich Chamber Orchestra. First and foremost, he says, the form brings pressures. “Sitting down with a blank piece of paper to write a piece for a quite large orchestra and a soloist of Inon Barnatan’s gifts, one has to think, ‘This had better be good!’” says Fletcher. “Because if an audience comes in to hear a big orchestra and a great artist in concerto, they expect something on a very large scale, and worthy of all of those great musicians.” In the past, he and I have discussed the idea that a concerto is like a well-constructed (usually) three-act play, and, if anything, he feels that even more having just been immersed in the form. “The piece needs a dramatic arc,” he says, “and in the case of my piano concerto, the first movement is roughly half the piece’s length and was to set up tremendous conflict, seemingly unanswerable conflict, and then each of the remaining movements do provide a possible answer. So that is a theatrical-feeling structure, and indeed I have used the theatrically expressive device of including song melodies in each movement. And part of that feeling of theater is also because you have an ensemble and you have a soloist, and that demands that you think about their rhetoric. Is the soloist challenging the ensemble, vice versa? Is the soloist instead leading the ensemble, coaxing them? Does the ensemble begin, does the soloist? Each of those choices has a different

Composer Anna Clyne and violinist Jennifer Koh at the world premiere of Clyne's concerto The Seamstress with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2015. The piece was commissioned by the CSO while Clyne was a composer in residence, and it will be performed by Koh with the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra on July 19 (top). AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher and pianist Inon Barnatan meet to look together for the first time at Fletcher's Piano Concerto, dedicated to Barnatan. The work will receive its world premiere in Aspen on July 30 (bottom).

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This season there will be new concertos, recent concertos, a major reconstruction of a centuries-old concerto, and, of course, the many often-performed favorites one would expect and hope for, with a pick of the world’s top soloists. And there will also be a free public discussion panel, “The Concerto: Why is it so Irresistible?” featuring Alan Fletcher, Robert Spano, Anders Hillborg, Stephen Hartke, Andrew Norman, and Christopher Theofanidis. • J  ULY 7 | The Aspen Chamber Symphony, conductor Nicholas McGegan, violinist Robert Chen, and pianist Robert Levin perform Levin’s reconstructed interpretation of Mozart’s Concerto for Violin and Piano at 6 pm in the Benedict Music Tent • J  ULY 19 | The Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor George Manahan, and violinist Jennifer Koh perform Anna Clyne’s The Seamstress at 6 pm in the Benedict Music Tent. • J  ULY 20 | AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher and Music Director Robert Spano, both composers themselves, are joined by a panel of composers to answer the question: “The Concerto: Why is it so Irresistible?” at 1 pm in Paepcke Auditorium. Free. • J  ULY 21 | The Aspen Chamber Symphony, conductor Robert Spano, and violinist Gil Shaham perform Jonathan Leshnoff’s Chamber Concerto for Violin and Orchestra at 6 pm in the Benedict Music Tent. • J  ULY 30 | The Aspen Festival Orchestra, conductor Robert Spano, and pianist Inon Barnatan perform the world premiere of Alan Fletcher’s Piano Concerto at 4 pm in the Benedict Music Tent. • A  UGUST 5 | Guitarist Sharon Isbin performs Chris Brubeck’s Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra at 8 pm in Harris Concert Hall. • A  UGUST 9 | The Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Robert Spano, and pianist Tengku Irfan perform the world premiere of Matthew Ricketts’s Melodia, for Piano and Orchestra.

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rhetorical meaning.” He points out that the sound of a string instrument like the violin is much more suited to weaving in and out of the orchestral fabric than, say, a piano. Hence, for his Daniel Hope piece, he thought much more of the soloist as “first among equals,” having every violinist on stage (there will be ten) doing their own unique things–“sometimes even responding to the soloist with a solo line of their own…I’m going crazy trying to work out all the timings!” If that is a different kind of theatricality, Fletcher attributes it to the nature of his lead actor. “I do think every minute about the actual person who’s going to be playing a concerto, and Daniel is such a great citizen in the world of music, I didn’t think he would even want something where he was on display and everyone else merely accompanying him.” For Inon Barnatan, as a pianist, almost his only interactions with a full orchestra are through concertos–there are precious few other choices. I wonder whether he finds that confining. “Not really,” he laughs. “It is true that, musically, composers tend to view concertos as public in nature, and so it’s not where they tend to experiment. Beethoven, for instance, really pushed the envelope in his sonatas and symphonies but not in the concertos, and that is why concertos are usually very grateful pieces for performers to play and for audiences to hear. But I almost always treat them as large-scale chamber music and try to get away from that idea of soloist with accompanying orchestra, and if you think that way it is freeing.” In recording recently all the Beethoven piano concertos, he muses, he initially had an idea to pair the concertos with other works somehow related. He couldn’t do it, couldn’t find an opening or a musical lead-in. Because, I wonder, in being theatrical, are concertos also somehow presentational, like the guy who stands on a crate in the park corner, delivers his speech, and has said all he has to say? “Maybe it’s that,” he says, “that concertos are statements for that moment. They’re certainly less experimental musically, but they experiment with other things. With the relationship between the public and private, or between a solo instrument and the orchestra, there are those juxtapositions, but it doesn’t leave the same amount of room that the other forms, even the symphony, does for experimentation.” Conductor Nicholas McGegan spends much of his working life in the early and classical repertoire, and the view from there is somewhat different. For him, concertos in that period went through enormous changes. “In Vivaldi and Bach and right up to Mozart and at least early Beethoven, the soloist would play along in the tuttis so that you didn’t get that sense of an orchestra up against the soloist,” McGegan says. “Robert Levin, who constructed this Mozart double concerto that we’re playing at Aspen, does this. Whereas if you’re doing the Brahms First Piano Concerto or something, the pianist is sitting there for ten minutes wringing his hands before coming in, so the earlier concertos are more collaborative than combative, shall we say?”

Of course, the combative element is sometimes a big pull for audiences eager for the gladiatorial aspect of the concerto art, but for McGegan, some of the things that came with these changes are actually musical ruptures. “When Mozart played the piano, his back was to the wind instruments, and the pointed end of his piano faced out to the audience so that he could really collaborate with the wind players,” McGegan says. “Now you get the pianist sitting out front and the piano lid open, which effectively prevents the wind players who are trying to play with the pianist from hearing the piano! Therefore, the conductor is necessary to keep the wind players in time with the pianist whom they cannot hear so well.” If later composers embraced the concerto-as-star vehicle, McGegan

says that’s because that’s exactly what they were—for the composers themselves. “The majority of the famous concertos are written by the composer who also performed them,” he says. “They didn’t make money on royalties by publishing the music, they made it by performing. So Liszt would go around Europe playing his latest concerto everywhere, with pick-up bands, and would want to show off his skills to sell out and get good fees.” While some purists might say there is something repetitive or even numbing about the idea of soloist and orchestra set in opposition, audiences clearly disagree. Fletcher observes that the most popular concertos are reliable seat-fillers. Yet go to enough concerto concerts, enough really great

ones, and a subtle truth emerges. It becomes clear why audiences come back and back again. For it is never as simple as a gladiatorial contest. Instead, the concerto provides an ever-shifting arena, where soloist and orchestra may well be in opposition one moment, but cleaved together in unity of purpose, of romantic gesture, of humanistic cry, the next. It shifts, it changes, as do we and our own relationships. We humans are all ego one moment, family unit in another, we are loving, we are excluding, we embrace, we push away. And in that, in all of that, concertos are us. James Inverne is a writer, editor, and music consultant who is an adviser to the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Violinist Simone Porter performs Bruch's First Violin Concerto with conductor Nicholas McGegan and the Aspen Chamber Symphony in 2016.

ELLE LOGAN

2017 CONCERTO HIGHLIGHTS

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FROM STAGE TO SCREEN

From the very beginning of movie-making, music has complemented, and completed, the drama. The blend looks effortless, with the music sweeping and booming and plucking— sometimes literally—our heartstrings at just the right moments.

CLASSICAL MUSIC AT THE MOVIES

But creating this synergy is anything but effortless and involves exacting playing and recording methods. Many artists who perform at the Aspen Music Festival and School regularly record the movie soundtracks of Hollywood’s most high-profile projects. Writer Grace Lichtenstein spoke with a few to learn more about this niche of music-making. By Grace Lichtenstein

Aspen artist-faculty member and Los Angeles Philharmonic principal French hornist Andrew Bain plays on the soundtrack to the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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"When you find the right mood, when the music clicks with the story and the images, suddenly something happens—they blend; they're locked together. It's phenomenal." — PIANIST JEAN-YVES THIBAUDET

The work involved in recording soundtracks is remarkably different from playing either live concerts or recording pieces for studio albums. The process can be long and intense. Yet many musicians say they relish the challenge. The marriage of classical music and movies goes back to the silent era, when entire orchestras might have been hired to play during the showing of a film. Since the advent of talkies, the music of composers from Prokofiev and Shosta-

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kovich to Philip Glass (an AMFS alumnus) and John Corigliano, among many others, has been heard on film. Two of Aspen's anchor artist-faculty, violinist Bing Wang and hornist Andrew Bain, record soundtracks frequently when they aren't working with their home orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where they sit associate concertmaster and principal hornist, respectively. (See them in Aspen in the Aspen Festival Orchestra.) Longtime

artist-faculty guitarist Sharon Isbin also is a film music veteran—at her August 5 Aspen recital she plans to reprise Howard Shore’s “Billy’s Theme” from Martin Scorsese’s award-winning The Departed. And frequent guest artist pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (performing in Aspen this summer on July 23) has recorded tracks for Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, and many other motion pictures. They all use words like “challenging,”

© LUCASFILM LTD. & TM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (BAIN); DAVID FOX (ISBIN)

Aspen artist-faculty member and Los Angeles Philharmonic principal French hornist Andrew Bain in the recording session for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (top); Aspen artist-faculty member and Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, second from left, with editor Thelma Schoonmaker, director Martin Scorsese, and composer Howard Shore of The Departed (bottom).

“exciting,” “fun,” and “rewarding” to describe the work involved. As Thibaudet says, “It’s really a very different exercise, and that’s what I like about it. A Chopin score I can interpret the way I want, but with film music, suddenly you have to be totally at the service of the movie.” Typically musicians brought together for a movie will rehearse and then play only snippets of a soundtrack because each portion must be synchronized to what’s happening on screen. According to Bain and Wang, the process is similar on most assignments. The conductor watches the film unspool on a monitor in front of him. The players (and sometimes the conductor) wear headphones on which they hear a “click track,” or metronomic series of “tick-tocks.” These allow the conductor to lead them by providing precise gestures cued to the action on screen. Often, after each tiny rehearsal, they record the same segment (ranging typically from thirty seconds to three minutes) several times. The conductor may consult with the director and the composer on each result before moving on to the next. An entire score can take up to a week of full days in the studio. Some conductors such as John Williams, who has conducted his own compositions for Star Wars, may choose not to use click tracks wherever possible, preferring the “freedom of phrasing and the liveliness without us rigidly bound to the click,” according to Wang. Naturally, this means the players themselves must be even more

focused on the conductor’s gestures. As long and intense as the work may be, musicians themselves say they now better appreciate how much effort is involved and enjoy the collaboration. Says Bain, “It’s amazing to see [Williams] work and to work with him. His ability to capture what’s going on in the film in music is quite incredible.” Indeed, as a youngster in Australia, Bain found that seeing the first three Star Wars movies back in the 1970s was a big factor in choosing the French horn. “I remember when I was in college buying the soundtracks and listening to them endlessly,” he says. Now it is he whose tones are heard in the stirring theme of The Force in The Force Awakens and the upcoming The Last Jedi. Wang's first film work ever was on Williams’s score for the 1998 film Angela’s Ashes. Since then she has played on many Williams soundtracks and has appeared under his baton for twenty years as soloist and concertmaster on his Hollywood Bowl and other conducting assignments. Williams is such a perfectionist in the studio, Wang says, that out of one six-hour session, as little as twenty minutes of music may actually be used on the final soundtrack. Her favorite score is the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List, on which she had a solo. For Bain, most soundtracks are a treat to hear completed because “when you’re recording, you’re hearing what’s going on closely around you. But what [the engineers and conductors] can do once

they patch the whole orchestra and they’ve balanced it all out always amazes me.” For Isbin, The Departed was her first experience with soundtracks. She was in an isolation booth while the orchestra was in a separate room. Everyone wore headphones. The click track was “a little odd at first, but then you get used to it right away because you have no choice.” What made the project so fascinating to her? “After seeing the film it was that the imagery accompanying this music is very violent because the Leonardo DiCaprio character is having flashbacks to one murder after another, but this music is very serene and haunting and ethereal, sensuous and beautiful, which gives a real window into his soul.” Like numerous musicians, Isbin’s notion of film music has changed. “I have a different perspective now than I did before,” she said. “I really find that the soundtrack is a very important part of the drama and what it communicates to listeners and viewers.” For Wang, film music “not only is such a vital part of every film, but film music right now is becoming more and more part of the concert stage. I’m very excited when I get to be part of it.” As Thibaudet sums up the experience, “When you find the right mood, when the music clicks with the story and the images, we all go back to the monitor, and suddenly something happens—they blend; they’re locked together. It’s phenomenal.”

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ABRIDGED CALENDAR 2017 ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL AND SCHOOL SEASON JUNE 29–AUGUST 20

The AMFS offers up to fifteen events a day—many free!—including concerts, operas, lectures, family events, public master classes, guided tours, and more. For a full listing of events, visit www.aspenmusicfestival.com, or pick up a weekly printed schedule available at hotels and visitor centers around Aspen.

2018 WINTER MUSIC January–March

The Aspen Music Festival and School and YourClassical have teamed up to bring the AMFS to you anywhere on a dedicated online radio stream—available to listen for free, with no sign-up required. It features some of Aspen's special musical moments of recent years: hear them for the first time, or enjoy a beautiful memory! Listen at www.yourclassical.org/aspen.

Join us in beautiful Harris Concert Hall for our 2018 Winter Music Recital Series. Plus, don’t miss The Met: Live in HD at the Wheeler Opera House!

Wednesday, February 28 INON BARNATAN piano Saturday, March 10 WILLIAM HAGEN violin Thursday, March 15 PACIFICA QUARTET

LISTEN TO THE AMFS ANYWHERE

ON SALE NOW Early Bird Special is just $120 for all three concerts!*

*Early Bird Special is on sale through IMPROMPTU SUMMER 2017 32 November 1, 2017.

Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $82 Robert Spano conductor, Garrick Ohlsson piano MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K. 271, “Jeunehomme” MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D major MONDAY, JULY 3

THURSDAY, JUNE 29

A Recital by Arnaud Sussmann violin, David Finckel cello, and Wu Han piano Harris Concert Hall 7 pm, $60 Featuring works by Brahms, Dvořák, and Mendelssohn. FRIDAY, JUNE 30

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80 Ludovic Morlot conductor, Simone Porter violin R. STRAUSS: from Tanzsuite nach Klavierstücken von François Couperin, TrV 245 (Dance Suite after Couperin) MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216, "Strassburg" STRAVINSKY: Monumentum pro Gesualdo di Venosa (ad CD annum) BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93 SATURDAY, JULY 1

970 925 9042 www.aspenmusicfestival.com

by talented AMFS students during an in-store event with part of the proceeds benefitting the AMFS.

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director

Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. Special Event: Ella at 100, Direct from the Apollo featuring the Count Basie Orchestra, Patti Austin, Lizz Wright, and Andra Day Benedict Music Tent 8:30 pm, $375 with on-site dinner, $85, $55 Presented in association with Jazz Aspen Snowmass SUNDAY, JULY 2

Aspen Festival Orchestra Dress Rehearsal Benedict Music Tent 9:30 am Volunteer Sunday: Free admission for volunteers of nonprofits of the Roaring Fork Valley Nina McLemore Shopping Benefit Nina McLemore Boutique 11 am Enjoy refreshments and music

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Featuring works by Verdi, William Kraft, and Brahms. Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 7 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artist-faculty. TUESDAY, JULY 4

Fourth of July Concert Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Lawrence Isaacson conductor The annual free Fourth of July celebration brings the AMFS band to the Tent stage with stirring patriotic favorites. WEDNESDAY, JULY 5

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 am, $25 Robert Levin

High Notes Panel Discussion Paepcke Auditorium 12 pm, free Pianist and composer Robert Levin and conductor Nicholas McGegan join AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast! House Musics (Opera) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $100 Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $25 Federico Cortese conductor, Zeynep Alpan violin A Recital by the Takács Quartet Harris Concert Hall 8:30 pm, $60 James Dunham viola Featuring works by Haydn, Ravel and Dvořák. THURSDAY, JULY 6

A Recital by Marina Piccinini flute and Anneleen Lenaerts harp Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Darrett Adkins cello Featuring works by J.S. Bach, Yuko Uebayashi, Ravel/Salzedo, Jongen, and Bartók/Arma. FRIDAY, JULY 7

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80 Nicholas McGegan conductor, Robert Chen violin, Robert Levin piano MOZART: Overture to Die

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TUESDAY, JULY 11

Tunes and Tales Basalt Regional Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult Harris Concert Hall Master Class Harris Concert Hall 1 pm, $25 David Kim violin

The Benedict Music Tent has the acoustics of a concert hall and the open-air feel of a summer day.

Zauberflöte, K. 620 MOZART/ROBERT LEVIN: Concerto for Violin and Piano in D major, K. 315f (K. Anh. 56) MOZART: Rondo in D major, K. 382 SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, “The Great” SATURDAY, JULY 8

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director Music on the Mountain Top of Aspen Mountain (gondola ticket or hike up mountain required) 1 pm, free Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. A Recital by Conrad Tao piano Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Featuring works by Felipe Lara, Mozart, Boulez, Philip Glass, and Liszt. SUNDAY, JULY 9

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4 pm, $90 Michael Stern conductor Yefim Bronfman piano BRITTEN: Sinfonia da Requiem, op. 20 RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2 BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, op. 83 Salon Signature Event: Sing for Your Life—A Story of Race, Music, and Family Paepcke Auditorium 6 pm, $75 (free to AMFS Salon and Aspen Institute Society of Fellows members) Bass-baritone and subject of The New York Times’s Daniel Bergner’s biography Sing For Your Life, Ryan Speedo Green, talks with Margo Drakos, founder of ArtistYear, and the Aspen Institute's Executive Vice President Eric Motley. MONDAY, JULY 10

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free Gotta Move! Meadows Hospitality Tent 10:30 am, free, for ages 2-7 with an adult

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Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Featuring works by Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, and Stravinsky/ Jonathan McPhee Music with a View Aspen Art Museum 6 pm, free A Recital by Anna Polonsky piano and Orion Weiss piano Harris Concert Hall 7:30 pm, $55 Featuring works by Fauré, Brahms, Barber, and Saint-Saëns. WEDNESDAY JULY 12

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 am, $25 Hung-Kuan Chen High Notes Panel Discussion Christ Episcopal Church 12 pm, free Conductor Patrick Summers and violinist Sarah Chang join AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast! House Musics (Chamber) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $65 Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent

6 pm, $25 Ludovic Morlot conductor, Marc-André Hamelin piano A Recital by Stefan Jackiw violin Harris Concert Hall 8:30 pm, $55 Anna Polonsky piano Featuring three of Brahms’s violin sonatas. THURSDAY, JULY 13

Verdi’s La traviata Wheeler Opera House 7 pm, $75, $25 obstructed George Manahan conductor Edward Berkeley director

Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Featuring works by Berlioz.

A Recital by Hung-Kuan Chen piano Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Featuring works by Schumann, Skryabin, and Rachmaninoff.

Aspen Music Festival and School at Buccellati Buccellati 4 pm This in-store benefit event features stunning jewelry, a special raffle with giveaway, live music by talented AMFS students, and refreshments.

SUNDAY, JULY 16

Tunes and Tales Pitkin County Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult

Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $82 Larry Rachleff conductor, Nikolai Lugansky piano DEBUSSY: Prélude à l’après midi d’un faune LUTOSŁAWSKI: Concerto for Orchestra BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, op. 73, “Emperor”

A Baroque Evening with Nicholas McGegan Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $65 Nicholas McGegan conductor, William Hagen violin, Alexander Kerr violin, Nadine Asin flute, Anton Nel piano Featuring works by Leclair, J.S. Bach, Handel, and Purcell.

MONDAY, JULY 17

FRIDAY JULY 14

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $85 Patrick Summers conductor, Sarah Chang violin STEPHEN HARTKE: Pacific Rim VITALI/CHARLIER: Chaconne in G minor RAVEL: Tzigane WAGNER: Prelude to Act I from Lohengrin PROKOFIEV: Symphonic Suite from The Love for Three Oranges, op. 33bis

Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 6 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artist-faculty. Verdi’s La traviata Wheeler Opera House $1,000 benefit evening Concert-only: 8 pm, $75, $25 obstructed George Manahan conductor Edward Berkeley director For more information on the benefit or to purchase benefit tickets, contact Jenny McDonough at 970 205 5063.

SATURDAY, JULY 15

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director

TUESDAY, JULY 18

Music on the Mountain Top of Aspen Mountain (gondola ticket or hike up mountain required) 1 pm, free

Tunes and Tales Basalt Regional Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult

Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artist-faculty.

Harris Concert Hall Master Class Harris Concert Hall 1 pm, $25 Anneleen Lenaerts harp

ALEX IRVIN

Chamber Music Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty.

Music with a View Aspen Art Museum 6 pm, free Verdi’s La traviata Wheeler Opera House 7 pm, $75, $25 obstructed George Manahan conductor, Edward Berkeley director A Recital by Nikolai Lugansky piano Harris Concert Hall 7:30 pm, $65 Featuring works by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. WEDNESDAY, JULY 19

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 am, $25 Arie Vardi High Notes Panel Discussion Christ Episcopal Church 12 pm, free The Pacifica Quartet joins AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast! House Musics (Opera) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $100 Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $25 George Manahan conductor, Jennifer Koh violin Intimate Artist Dinner with Nikolai Lugansky Private Residence 6 pm, $500

Special Event: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with Sarah Chang violin 8:30 pm, $75 Mahan Esfahani harpsichord Featuring works by J.S. Bach and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. THURSDAY, JULY 20

Tunes and Tales Pitkin County Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult The Concerto: Why is it so Irresistible? Paepcke Auditorium 1 pm, free AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher chairs a panel including composers Stephen Hartke, Anders Hillborg, Jonathan Leshnoff, Andrew Norman, Christopher Theofanidis, and AMFS Music Director Robert Spano. Family Concert I Harris Concert Hall 5 pm, free, for all ages Ingmar Beck conductor This short concert introduces kids to the world of classical music and features Bernard Rogers’s Musicians of Bremen, the story of an old donkey who decides to run away to Brementown where he will earn his living as a musician. A Recital by the American Brass Quintet Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Program to include works by ed. Louis Hanzlik, Ewald, Anders Hillborg, Jay Greenberg, Steven Franklin, and G. Gabrieli/ Raymond Mase. FRIDAY, JULY 21

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80 Robert Spano conductor, Gil Shaham violin, Aspen Opera Center Singers, Edward Berkeley director RAVEL: Mother Goose Suite JONATHAN LESHNOFF: Chamber Concerto for Violin and Orchestra RAVEL: L’enfant et les sortilèges

SATURDAY, JULY 22

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director Music on the Mountain Top of Aspen Mountain (gondola ticket or hike up mountain required) 1 pm, free Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. A Recital by Daniel Hope violin Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Anton Nel piano Featuring works by Enescu, Elgar, Ravel, and Franck. SUNDAY, JULY 23

Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $82 Andrey Boreyko conductor, Jean-Yves Thibaudet piano ANDERS HILLBORG: Cold Heat LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major, LW H6 ZEMLINSKY: Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid), Symphonic Fantasy after Hans Christian Andersen MONDAY, JULY 24

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free Gotta Move! Meadows Hospitality Tent 10:30 am, free, for ages 2-7 with an adult Chamber Music Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. Special Event: An Evening with Rufus Wainwright Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $75 The inimitable singer-songwriter

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TUESDAY, JULY 25

Tunes and Tales Basalt Regional Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult Harris Concert Hall Master Class Harris Concert Hall 1 pm, $25 James Dunham viola Music with a View Aspen Art Museum 6 pm, free A Recital by Michelle DeYoung mezzo-soprano Harris Concert Hall 7:30 pm, $55 William Billingham piano, Altius Quartet, Gloucester String Quartet Featuring works by Timothy Collins, Prokofiev, Duparc, and Mahler. WEDNESDAY, JULY 26

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 am, $25 Yoheved Kaplinsky High Notes Panel Discussion Paepcke Auditorium 12 pm, free Composers Christopher Theofanidis and Daniel Kellogg join AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast! House Musics (Chamber) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $65 Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $25 Ingmar Beck conductor A Recital by the Pacifica Quartet Harris Concert Hall

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8:30 pm, $55 Esther Heideman soprano Featuring works by Haydn, Schoenberg, and Beethoven.

8 pm, $55 Featuring works by Berg and Beethoven and Schubert's Schwanengesang.

THURSDAY, JULY 27

SUNDAY, JULY 30

Special Event: Master Class with Renée Fleming soprano Harris Concert Hall 10 pm, $40

A Recital by Adele Anthony violin and Gil Shaham violin Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $65 Featuring works by Leclair, Bartók, Moszkowski, Brahms/ Ricci, Wieniawski, Prokofiev, and Julian Milone.

Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $90 Robert Spano conductor, Inon Barnatan piano, Renée Fleming soprano CHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS: Dreamtime Ancestors ALAN FLETCHER: Piano Concerto (World Premiere) MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: Selections from Poems of Emily Dickinson BJÖRK/HANS EK: Selected Songs STRAVINSKY: The Firebird Suite (1919)

FRIDAY, JULY 28

MONDAY, JULY 31

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80 Markus Stenz conductor, Paul Lewis piano, Andrè Schuen baritone BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, op. 15 MAHLER: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 4 in D minor, op. 120

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free

Tunes and Tales Pitkin County Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult

SATURDAY, JULY 29

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director Music on the Mountain Top of Aspen Mountain (gondola ticket or hike up mountain required) 1 pm, free Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. A Recital by Andrè Schuen baritone and Andreas Haefliger piano Harris Concert Hall

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Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 6 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. TUESDAY, AUGUST 1

Tunes and Tales Basalt Regional Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult Harris Concert Hall Master Class Harris Concert Hall 1 pm, $25 Robert McDuffie violin Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Featuring works by Copland and Beethoven. A Recital: Jonathan Biss plays Beethoven Sonatas I Harris Concert Hall 7:30 pm, $65 Part of a complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas series.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2

trumpet, Jonathan Haas timpani, Joyce Yang piano MARTIN: Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments and Timpani LISZT/BUSONI: Rhapsodie espagnole, LW A195 BRAHMS: Symphony No. 3 in F major, op. 90

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 am, $25 Jonathan Biss High Notes Panel Discussion Paepcke Auditorium 12 pm, free Pianists Joyce Yang, Jonathan Biss, and Inon Barnatan join AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director Music on the Mountain Top of Aspen Mountain (gondola ticket or hike up mountain required) 1 pm, free

House Musics (Opera) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $100

Luke Bedford’s Seven Angels Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $25 Yves Abel conductor, Aspen Opera Center Singers, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble Text by Glyn Maxwell Concert performance

Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $25 Christian Arming conductor, Kirill Gerstein piano A Recital by Inon Barnatan piano Harris Concert Hall 8:30 pm, $65 Featuring works by J.S. Bach, Handel, Rameau, Couperin, Ravel, Thomas Adès, Ligeti, Barber, and Brahms.

Special Event: A Recital by Sharon Isbin guitar Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $75 Featuring works by Howard Shore, Chris Brubeck, and Rodrigo.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 3

Tunes and Tales Pitkin County Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult A Recital by Robert McDuffie violin Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $65 Elizabeth Pridgen piano, Kevin Rivard horn Featuring works by Philip Glass, George Tsontakis, and Brahms.

Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $82 Joshua Weilerstein conductor, Augustin Hadelich violin BEETHOVEN: Overture to Egmont, op. 84 CHRISTOPHER ROUSE: Symphony No. 5 BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77

GEORGE CRUMB: Winds of Destiny (American Songbook IV) Season Benefit: An Enchanted Feast of Music Hurst Hall, Bucksbaum Campus 6 pm, $2000 Exceptional performances are paired with gourmet delicacies courtesy of Hotel Jerome, in a special evening honoring Robert J. Hurst. Call 970-205-5063.

MONDAY, AUGUST 7

TUESDAY, AUGUST 8

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free

Harris Concert Hall Master Class Harris Concert Hall 1 pm, $25 Donald Weilerstein violin

Gotta Move! Meadows Hospitality Tent 10:30 am, free, for ages 2-7 with an adult Percussion Ensemble Harris Concert Hall 6 pm, $25 Jonathan Haas conductor, Richard Narroway cello, Vera Quartet TAN DUN: Elegy: Snow in June STEVE REICH: Mallet Quartet AUGUSTA READ THOMAS: Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals) Composition TBA: played by winner of solo percussion competition

Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Featuring works by Messiaen and Bartók. Music with a View Aspen Art Museum 6 pm, free A Recital: Jonathan Biss plays Beethoven Sonatas II Harris Concert Hall 7:30 pm, $65 Part of a complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas series.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 am, $25 Ann Schein High Notes Panel Discussion Paepcke Auditorium 12 pm, free Violinist Augustin Hadelich, cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, and pianist Martin Helmchen join AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast! Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $25 Robert Spano conductor, Tengku Irfan piano A Recital by Augustin Hadelich violin, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker cello, and Martin Helmchen piano Harris Concert Hall 8:30 pm, $65 Featuring works by Haydn, Kodály, Takemitsu, and Brahms. THURSDAY, AUGUST 10

Tunes and Tales Pitkin County Library 10:30 am, free, for ages 3-9 with an adult A Recital by the American String Quartet Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Featuring works by Haydn, Robert Sirota, and Beethoven. FRIDAY, AUGUST 11

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80 Johannes Debus conductor, Nadine Asin flute, Elaine Douvas oboe, Michael Rusinek clarinet, Nancy Goeres bassoon, John Zirbel horn, Kevin Cobb

SUNDAY, AUGUST 6

Aspen Opera Center Director Edward Berkeley leads an Opera Scenes Master Class. Every Saturday at 10 am, these master classes feature emerging talents workshopping the acting and singing that brings opera to life.

ALEX IRVIN

and composer Rufus Wainwright returns for an intimate concert showcasing his music in new arrangements for string orchestra.

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80 Hans Graf conductor, Martin Helmchen piano BEETHOVEN: Coriolan Overture, op. 62 BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, op. 58 BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 6 in F major, op. 68, “Pastoral”

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Composer Showcase Harris Concert Hall 9 am, free An illustrious panel hears and live critiques works by the Festival’s student composers. Panel includes: Alan Fletcher President and CEO, Robert Spano Music Director, Christopher Theofanidis composer-inresidence, Christopher Rouse composer, Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director Music on the Mountain Top of Aspen Mountain (gondola ticket or hike up mountain required) 1 pm, free Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber Music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. A Recital by Denis Kozhukhin piano Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Featuring works by Handel, Brahms, Albéniz, and Boulez’s Second Piano Sonata. SUNDAY, AUGUST 13

Ice Cream Social David Karetsky Music Lawn 2:30 pm, free Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $82 Rafael Payare conductor, Sergey Khachatryan violin, Bing Wang violin BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61 R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), op. 40 MONDAY, AUGUST 14

Guided Tour of Bucksbaum Campus Bucksbaum Campus 10:15 am, free

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Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 6 pm, $45 Chamber music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. Special Event: Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home “Love and Comedy” Show Benedict Music Tent 7 pm, $85, $45 Presented in association with Belly Up Aspen Note: AMFS passes are not valid for this co-presentation. TUESDAY, AUGUST 15

Harris Concert Hall Master Class Harris Concert Hall 1 pm, $25 Alisa Weilerstein cello Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, free Featuring works by Liadov, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky. Music with a View Aspen Art Museum 6 pm, free Intimate Artist Dinner with Alisa Weilerstein Private Residence 6 pm, $500 Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito Wheeler Opera House 7 pm, $50, $25 obstructed Jane Glover conductor, Edward Berkeley director Open to passholders. A Recital by a 2017 Van Cliburn Competition Winner Harris Concert Hall 7:30 pm, $55 Program details will be available shortly before the performance. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16

Piano Master Class Harris Concert Hall 10 pm, $25 Julian Martin High Notes Panel Discussion Christ Episcopal Church 12 pm, free

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The winner of the Van Cliburn competition, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and the cast of Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust join AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in conversation. Also listen to High Notes on Aspen Public Radio on Thursdays at 2 pm, or listen as part of the AMFS’s new podcast!. House Musics (Opera) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $100 Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $25 Hugh Wolff conductor A Recital by Veronika Eberle violin Harris Concert Hall 8:30 pm, $55 Brinton Smith cello, David Kadouch piano, Timothy Weiss conductor Featuring works by Schoenberg and Berg. THURSDAY, AUGUST 17

Family Concert II Harris Concert Hall 5 pm, free, for all ages Ingmar Beck conductor This short concert introduces kids to the world of classical music and features Benjamin Wallfisch’s Dirty Beasts for narrator and orchestra, based on the Roald Dahl collection of poems about mischievous and mysterious animals. Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito Wheeler Opera House 7 pm, $50, $25 obstructed Jane Glover conductor, Edward Berkeley director Open to passholders. A Recital by Edgar Meyer bass Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $55 Featuring work by Bottesini.

John Nelson conductor, Alisa Weilerstein cello VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 2 in G major, op. 126 ROUSSEL: Symphonic Fragments from Le festin de l’araignée (The Spider’s Feast), op. 17 KODÁLY: Dances of Galánta

FACULTY FOCUS

SATURDAY, AUGUST 19

Opera Scenes Master Class Wheeler Opera House 10 am, $40 Edward Berkeley director

IN DEMAND ON STAGE AND IN THE THE STUDIO

House Musics (Opera) presented by Mountain Living Private Residence 3:30 pm, $100

The daily schedule of a professional musician performing at a top orchestra is filled with practice, travel, instrument maintenance, rehearsals, performances, and a dozen other details that are all part of staying in shape for the highest levels of music-making. And for some artists, there's one more major demand: teaching a studio of dedicated music students. Where do these professionals find the time, and how can they balance working at the peak levels of excellence in both performance and teaching? Writer Christina Thomsen spoke to two artist-faculty members at the Aspen Music Festival and School to find out. By Christina Thomsen

Chamber Music Harris Concert Hall 4:30 pm, $45 Chamber Music gems played by the AMFS’s brilliant artistfaculty. Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito Wheeler Opera House 7 pm, $50, $25 obstructed Jane Glover conductor, Edward Berkeley director Open to passholders. A Recital by Vladimir Feltsman piano Harris Concert Hall 8 pm, $65 Featuring works by Schubert and Brahms. SUNDAY, AUGUST 20

Aspen Festival Orchestra Benedict Music Tent 4 pm, $90 Robert Spano conductor, Sasha Cooke mezzo-soprano, Bryan Hymel tenor, John Relyea bassbaritone, Federico De Michelis bass, Duain Wolfe chorus director, Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus BERLIOZ: The Damnation of Faust, op. 24

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18

Aspen Chamber Symphony Benedict Music Tent 6 pm, $80

ALEX IRVIN

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12

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how important their students’ musical education is to them, and that, often, creative teaching methods are key. While in Dallas, Kerr teleconferences with his students online. He’s set up a Google calendar with his available times, and students pick when they can video in and have a lesson. In any other field, this might be seen as a disadvantage, but Kerr explains why it’s not. “My students see what I do, they hear me play, they know what I do as a concertmaster, so in a way, it gives them something to aspire to,” he says. “I think they appreciate the fact that I’m out in the real world, basically practicing what I preach.” Douvas, despite already having a full schedule that includes several classes, hourly lessons, and considerable time spent reed-making, makes time to be accessible to her students. She’s available outside of class to write recommendation letters and give advice on recital programs, reed-making, graduate schools, and summer festivals. As programs grow and she takes on more

AMFS artist-faculty member Alexander Kerr sits as concertmaster with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as well as with the Aspen Festival Orchestra (left). AMFS artist-faculty member Elaine Douvas is principal oboist at the Metropolitan Opera and chair of the woodwind department at Juilliard, and here she performs with the Aspen Chamber Symphony (right).

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at some point, I just say to myself, my job is to help other people.” She admits that the downside is she’s had less time for her favorite hobby, figure skating, but is confident she’ll get back into it when she has a spare moment. Musical ability aside, the skillsets of performer and instructor differ quite a bit. However, the combination only seems to benefit each role, at least for these two. As performers, teaching takes these musicians back to the basics. Kerr says he loves the fresh perspective his students offer him. “My students, when I teach them, I learn immeasurable amounts from them,” he says, adding that having to articulate and demonstrate techniques to his students helps him understand different perspectives and interpretations. “Things that I’ve never thought about in that depth, [teaching] forces me to think about it in that depth and be able to verbalize it succinctly for someone to understand and take home with them.” Both Douvas and Kerr emphasize

students as his kids and excitedly talks about having a “spider web of an extended family” all over the world, his motivation is simple. “I love it,” he says. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it, and I can’t live without either.” The end of the school year promises the end of classes and lessons, but not for these musicians. Each summer, among other commitments, Douvas and Kerr find time to come perform and teach students from around the world here in Aspen. “Aspen has the perfect mix of performing the symphonic repertoire and teaching—and skating!” Douvas says with a laugh. Kerr is grateful for the relationships he’s formed in Aspen over the years with colleagues and students who keep returning every summer. He says, “I come back because it’s an incredible experience, an incredible environment, and I’ve developed relationships with people that I’ll cherish forever.”

AMFS artist-faculty member Elaine Douvas (left), principal oboist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, leads a master class in Aspen.

ALEX IRVIN

Elaine Douvas is another musician who has mastered the balance. She has been principal oboist at the Metropolitan Opera for more than thirty years, is chair of the woodwind department at Juilliard, and is on faculty at the AMFS. Having recently taken on the Juilliard pre-college program, she now teaches in four different places, including Mannes College and Bard College Conservatory, in addition to a multitude of seminars and festivals throughout the year. On top of that, Douvas is a member of a mixed ensemble quartet with two fellow AMFS artist-faculty members, flutist Nadine Asin and cellist Darrett Adkins, and harpsichordist/pianist Steven Beck called “Pleasure is the Law!” It’s a lot to keep track of, Douvas says. “The teaching has grown over the years, and I keep thinking I can squeeze in just a little more, just a little more, and I never like to say no to anybody.” But busy schedules don’t seem to bother either musician. “I like being busy,” Douvas says. “And

ALEX IRVIN (KERR); ELLE LOGAN (DOUVAS)

“It takes a lot of energy,” says Alexander Kerr, the current concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a faculty member at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and an Aspen Music Festival and School artist-faculty member. Luckily, energy is something of which Kerr has a lot. While teaching eighteen violin students in Indiana where he lives with his family, Kerr also spends about four months every year as concertmaster at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, flying between the two states for rehearsals and performances. This is in addition to playing chamber music and solo concerts, participating in fundraising activities, and spending time with his family. But Kerr has a way to balance his various responsibilities. “Whenever I do something, I’m completely, at that point in time, completely focused on what I’m doing,” he says. “So whether I’m teaching or performing or going on tours, whatever it is, I’m sort of myopically focused on that.”

students, Douvas says it’s a big job, but necessary. “I don’t want any of them to feel that I don’t have time for extra attention when they need it,” she says. “Everybody goes through rough patches with their oboe reeds or their planning of repertoire or just emotional rough patches.” She says that, even with seventeen students, she finds time for some of them to have as many as ten extra lessons during the year. To take on the dual role of professional performer and educator promises a hectic schedule for even the most experienced multitasker. But to Kerr and Douvas, it’s always worth it. The relationships, Douvas says, are what she enjoys most about teaching and playing in an orchestra. “It’s wonderful to go into work and look forward to seeing your neighbors, and it’s the same with teaching,” she says. “I think a good teacher-student relationship will eventually turn into a nice friendship.” For Kerr, who fondly refers to his

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Each year, more than six hundred elite young musicians make their way to Aspen for an unparalleled summer of music education and performance. Get to know bassoonist and contrabassoonist Andrew Genemans, one of this season’s exceptional talents, before seeing him take the Benedict Music Tent stage this summer. By Jessica Cabe

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eral professional orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Although his career in music is off to a fruitful start, his path to this profession wasn’t always clear. “When I was in high school, I was told by certain people that there is no career path for me because there are no jobs in music,” he says. So for the first two years of his undergraduate career, Genemans studied music therapy. But after witnessing a particularly moving Cleveland Orchestra concert during his sophomore year, he knew he had to pursue a career as a professional musician. “Ever since then, there are moments when it’s reaffirmed,” he says. “I think the most recent one was when I got to play with the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. I sat there—there were five hundred people on stage—with one of the greatest orchestras in the world, and I was like, ‘I made the right choice.’ “What I love about being a musician is that I feel like my job is literally freedom,” he continues. “You get to explore your emotions in a most profound way with an audience watching, and you get to share that moment with them. Music is freedom to me.”

DON’T MISS

SPECTACULAR OPERA THIS SUMMER!

FULLY STAGED OPERAS

CONCERT PERFORMANCE

Verdi’s La traviata

Luke Bedford’s Seven Angels*

JULY 15, 17, 18 | WHEELER OPERA HOUSE Opera Benefit with performance on July 17

With the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble

Overflowing with stunning music and tragic passion, this Verdi masterpiece features one of opera's greatest heroines, who sacrifices everything for love.

Inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost, this chamber opera examines the urgency of climate change through the journey of a group of angels. Text by Glyn Maxwell.

AUGUST 5 | HARRIS CONCERT HALL

Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito* ELLE LOGAN

trabassoon fellow on a Harry and Effie Lerner Trust Scholarship as well as a Maestro’s Circle Scholarship, and he’s especially looking forward to his time playing in the Aspen Festival Orchestra. Ironically, Genemans says when he first started out on bassoon, he wasn’t thinking of playing in orchestra; he was just taking his time discovering his new instrument. “At that point, my parents wanted me to fall into the instrument, to fall in love with it on my own,” he says. But over time, playing in orchestra became one of his favorite aspects of being a musician. “In AFO, the level of musicianship is just top notch. It’s hard to believe it’s not a professional orchestra because it is so high quality. We did Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony [last summer], which is just the darkest thing you could possibly imagine, and I felt like we were really able to do a difficult piece like that justice. And the amount of camaraderie in the group is also very high.” Genemans earned his master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015, where he studied with AMFS artist-faculty member Nancy Goeres, and he just finished an advanced music studies program there last year. Now, he freelances and substitutes with sev-

ELLE LOGAN

Growing up with band directors for parents, twenty-six-year-old Andrew Genemans tried out a variety of different instruments at a young age: trumpet, euphonium, French horn, cello, double bass, saxophone—you name it. But in middle school—the quintessential time for finding one’s true self—he stumbled upon the instrument that finally felt just right: bassoon. “It was really unique, and at that point in your life, in seventh grade, you’re feeling a lot of feelings,” says the Akron, Ohio, native. “You’re starting to change quite a lot, and I felt really connected to this instrument that was very strange, very weird, maybe not fitting into the social norms all the time. I was really drawn to it.” In fact, it was love at first sight. Genemans says he was initially intrigued by the instrument because “it looks like a bazooka,” a natural draw for a twelveyear-old boy. But the sound of the instrument is what has kept him hooked for all these years. “I loved the uniqueness of the sound; there’s no instrument that sounds similar to it at all,” he says. Now, Genemans is spending his fourth summer at the AMFS playing both bassoon and contrabassoon and studying with AMFS artist-faculty member Per Hannevold. He’s a con-

AUGUST 15, 17, 19 | WHEELER OPERA HOUSE Political intrigue, divided loyalties, and a treacherous assassination plot take center stage in this dramatically complex work. ABOVE THE ASPEN OPERA CENTER'S 2016 PRODUCTION OF WILLIAM BOLCOM'S A WEDDING.

*Open to passholders FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE THE ABRIDGED CALENDAR ON PG. 33, OR VISIT WWW.ASPENMUSICFESTIVAL.COM. IMPROMPTU SUMMER 2017

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ALEX IRVIN

www.aspenmusicfestival.com • 970 925 9042

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2017 Impromptu magazine