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Festival Focus Monday, June 17, 2013
Vol 24, No.1
2013 Season Explores ‘Conscience & Beauty’ verdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea as an example. For thousands of years, people have “For instance, Poppea and Nero; used art as a means to explore and there are a lot of dead bodies in her comment on the human condition. wake on the way to the throne,” he In the 2013 season, with the theme says. “But the opera’s imbued with of “Conscience and Beauty,” the As- such beautiful music. Regardless, it pen Music Festival and School (AMFS) seems, in most cases, of whether it’s focuses on the powerful compositions good conscience or bad conscience, musicians have this genesis has alpenned as social ways resulted in commentary and beautiful work.” to express their AMFS President emotions and their and CEO Alan Fletchpolitics through er says that classical their music. music continues to Asadour Sanplay an important tourian, the AMFS role in society. vice president for “It’s useful today artistic administrato look at the way tion and artistic ‘society,’ if such a advisor, says that thing can be perwhen picking a sonalized, turns to season theme, the music after an event Asadour Santourian Festival looks for like 9/11, or the asAMFS Vice President for Artistic Administration and Artistic Advisor one that is “broad sassination of John enough to encomF. Kennedy, or the pass solo, chamber, 1972 massacre at operatic, and orchestral repertoire and the Munich Olympics,” Fletcher says. tight enough that all tributaries run “In these cases, there seems to be a to it. It pulls all Festival programming formal role for classical music.” Such together.” modern works include John Adams’s Santourian adds that it shouldn’t On the Transmigration of Souls, writbe assumed that all instances of con- ten in response to the 9/11 tragedy, science in the musical works of the and John Corigliano’s Symphony summer are forms of good conscience No. 1, a work generated by the and points to the Aspen Opera Theater Center’s 2013 production of Monte- See 2013, Festival Focus page 3 courtney E. thompson Festival Focus writer
Regardless...of whether it’s good conscience or bad conscience, this genesis has always resulted in beautiful work.
In honor of his centennial, the 2013 AMFS season will feature a retrospective of the works of Benjamin Britten, pictured above, the first recipient of the Aspen Institute’s Robert O. Anderson Aspen Award in the Humanities (1964).
AMFS Launches New Website courtney E. thompson Festival Focus writer
In a year when the Aspen Music Festival and School rebuilt its physical presence in the form of the new Bucksbaum Campus, it also rebuilt its digital presence in the form of a brand new website with additional features previously unavailable to patrons, donors, and students. According to Director of Marketing and Public Relations Laura Smith, the former website was around six years old and is the fourth iteration of the Festival’s web presence. The creation of the new website, which was launched in the spring, was necessary to serve the needs of the AMFS’s various constituencies. “The former site was not as flexible and customizable as we needed it to be,” Smith says. As the Internet continually grew as a main marketing resource, the needs placed upon the former website grew as well. “We couldn’t create new sections or pages related to new
projects. We couldn’t use the tool to properly service our communication needs and the patrons’ needs.” This growing need coincided with two Festival patrons taking an interest in the AMFS’s online presence. It was only through the generous support of AMFS Board member Dana Powell, and her husband Gene Powell that creating the new site was possible. Smith says, “It’s a significant investment for any nonprofit to build a website with the depth and functionality we need as both a presenting and educational institution. The Powells’ support and enthusiasm really made it possible.” The new online experience includes many new functions including the ability to choose your own seats, print tickets at home, participate in virtual post-concert salons where people can share their reactions, listen to See WEBSITE, Festival Focus page 3
Music Festival Vice President and Dean of Students Jennifer Johnston and President and CEO Alan Fletcher greet a student at registration last summer. Registration this year starts Tuesday.
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Page 2 | Monday, June 17, 2013
Festival Focus: Your Weekly Classical Music Guide
Supplement to The Aspen Times
Concertmaster David Halen Lives Musical Dream Courtney E. Thompson Festival Focus writer
David Halen, the concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony and artist-faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS), is “living the life,” he says. “It’s a demanding yet satisfying life that I think many people dream of having.” Halen, who performs as concertmaster with the AMFS’s Aspen Festival Orchestra, Aspen Chamber Symphony, and the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra, realized his calling at the age of 16, while in the middle of performing a violin concerto. “I became suddenly aware that that’s what I love most in life,” he says. Halen came from a musical background. His father was a violin professor with Central Missouri State University and his mother was a violinist with the Kansas City Symphony. Though born in Bellevue, Ohio, Halen was raised in Warrensburg, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. Like many kids with musical parents, Halen began studying at a young age and was performing in a community orchestra at the age of 10. Even still, he says his parents never pushed the idea of a professional career, letting him come to it naturally. “I saw them doing it for a living and saw them get a lot of satisfaction in the arts field,” Halen says. “They both enjoyed their work. My mother, in particular, had a lot of fun. [Becoming a professional musician] just seemed like a natural extension of the training I’d had.” Soon after that fateful concert, Halen applied for a
Fulbright scholarship and soon moved to Germany to he says, is like teaching in Aspen. “I enjoy working with students at Aspen because of the study at the Freiburg Hochschule für Musik. After that, he returned to the U.S. to earn his master’s at the Uni- atmosphere,” he says. “I feel like I can really get a lot of versity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He then took a work done, seeing the students so regularly.” Halen says the concert atmosphere around the Beneyear to play professionally with a string quartet before joining the Houston Symphony as assistant concert- dict Music Tent is almost like a carnival. “There are really interesting people and families,” he master. Then, after moving back to Missouri to join the St. Louis Symphony, he was named the symphony’s con- says. “The air is clear and clean. The music is beautiful. certmaster by the orchestra and with the endorsement The weather is perfect. It’s a real celebration of summerof the then music directors Leonard Slatkin and Hans time, of life.” Vonk. It’s the position he still holds today. Says Halen of his position, “I am challenged every week in some new way, and it’s very, very interesting and unique and satisfying. It’s where you can be inspired by so many people at any given moment.” In addition to St. Louis, Halen also teaches around the country. He is a faculty member at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University as well as at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. But no other experience, David Halen, left, playing side-by-side with a student during the 2012 Festival season.
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Festival Focus: Your Weekly Classical Music Guide
Supplement to The Aspen Times
2013: Season Theme “Conscience & Beauty” Continued from Festival Focus page 1
frustration and anger the composer felt at losing friends and colleagues to the AIDS epidemic. Fletcher continues, “I’ll never forget the Munich Philharmonic’s performance of the Funeral March from Beethoven’s Eroica during the 1972 Olympics; it was a genuine expression of grief and dignity. One of our own brilliant alumni, Conrad Tao, has been commissioned to write a piece for the Dallas Symphony on the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Somehow it is classical music that can answer a general need for a heartfelt response.” The composers range from the Romanticism of Beethoven to contemporary works of Philip Glass and include giants such as Shostakovich, Mahler, Debussy, Bernstein, John Adams, and more. For a selected list of 2013 season theme works, see the sidebar, right.
In addition to thematic works, the season includes a retrospective focusing on the music of Benjamin Britten, highlighting some twenty works, including a semistaged performance of Peter Grimes in the Benedict Music Tent (July 27). Programming will also include the Piano Concerto, op. 13 with pianist and artist-faculty member Wu Han (July 12); the Violin Concerto performed by guest artist Daniel Hope (July 14); The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (July 16); the Cello Symphony, op. 68 played by cellist and artist-faculty member David Finckel (July 28); Les illuminations (August 2) conducted by AMFS alumnus James Gaffigan; and artist-faculty member Joaquin Valdepeñas playing Movements for a Clarinet Concerto (August 4). A favorite of many musicians, Britten received the Aspen Institute’s first Robert O. Anderson Aspen Award in the Humanities in 1964, created to honor “the individual anywhere in the world judged to have made the greatest contribution to the
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advancement of the humanities.” “Elevated yet heartfelt,” says Fletcher of Britten. “His music has the deep structure and accomplishment one hopes for in the finest classical music. It seamlessly incorporates knowledge of the whole history of musical style with the emotional power and immediacy of folk music. It addresses, with constant seriousness of purpose, the social concerns of Britten’s time and place and also enters into dialogue with the past on key social issues.” Other exciting events in the 2013 season include a Special Event celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Harris Concert Hall (August 13), the first Aspen concert of the newly re-formed Emerson String Quartet (August 8), an extended recital by Festival favorite Gil Shaham, who will perform J. S. Bach’s complete Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Violin (July 24), and a multimedia opening concert, Icarus at the Edge of Time, featuring music by AMFS alumus Philip Glass (June 27).
Monday, June 17, 2013 | Page 3
Selected Thematic Works: • June 27 Philip Glass: Icarus at the Edge of Time • June 28 Beethoven: Egmont, op. 84, Overture and Complete Incidental Music • June 30 Esa-Pekka Salonen: Violin Concerto; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 74, “Pathétique” • July 1 Weill: Four Walt Whitman Songs • July 17 R. Strauss: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), op. 24 • July 28 Shostakovich: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 54 • August 10 John Corigliano: Of Rage and Remembrance • August 13 Joan Tower: Fifth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman • August 14 Musorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition
Harris Concert Hall: 9 am through the intermission of the evening concert, daily. Wheeler Opera House: 9 am–5 pm daily.
Students, Artist-Faculty Arrive courtney e. thompson
Website: New Site in 2013 Continued from Festival Focus page 1
Festival Focus writer
What signifies the start of the Aspen summer to you? The last snowmelt? The Farmers’ Market? For many, it’s the arrival this week of more than seven hundred classical musicians who make up the core of the internationally-renowned Aspen Music Festival and School. Students spend eight weeks studying as well as playing more than a hundred concerts during the Festival. These musicians come from more than forty states and forty countries and all share a love of bringing beauty into the world through classical music. With this influx, the quiet town of Aspen bursts into an array of multicultural musicians. The students enjoy hiking and biking on the numerous area trails as well as busking on the downtown malls. Their presence transforms the area and, in turn, being in Aspen transforms them. Says Lillian Green, a 26-year-old violist returning for her third summer, “Some of the best times of my life have been here at the Festival. So many things make Aspen a unique experience—the playing opportunities, the performances, the mountains, and of course the amazing teachers. Everything about the experience—the people, the places, the music —is inspiring.” The artist-faculty, many of whom attended the AMFS as students, also feel a special affinity for the town. AMFS Vice President and Dean of Students Jennifer Johnston says, “I think the faculty would say it holds a lot of memories for them. Many of them are former students of the School and they wish to share with their students the nourishment of the mind, body, and spirit that the Aspen experience offers.” However, one major experience in 2013 that will be new for artist-faculty and students is the completion of Phase I of the new Matthew and Carolyn Bucksbaum Campus. Built in fewer than the nine months since the close of last summer’s Festival, the 38-acre site located one mile up Castle Creek Road opens two new rehearsal halls, sixty-eight practice rooms, and a percussion center, all set in a beautifully re-conceived site. The new facilities will host rehearsals for all the AMFS orchestras over the course of the summer. “It’s the first year, in a number of years, that the majority of our orchestral rehearsals will take place on Campus,” Johnston says. “One centralized location housing all of our educational activities promises a wonderful coming together of faculty and students.” For a full tour of the new Campus, come to the Opening Celebration and Dedication Ceremony on July 8 at 10:15 am. Free and open to the public. See www.aspenmusicfestival.com for details.
recordings of programmed works, and more. “The redesigned website offers our patrons a higher level of service and convenience,” Smith says. She adds, “There is also state-of-the-art security for the online ordering process as well as a greater degree of control for the AMFS in the ability to update the content so that it can be as accurate and current as possible.” Because the AMFS is a presenting organization as well as a top learning institution for aspiring musicians, the needs of the website are more complicated than an organization that is either one or the other. “The Festival is a complex organization and needs a highly robust website,” Smith says. “Students have needs; patrons have other needs; donors have additional needs altogether. Our other site was too small a container, if you will. We needed the capacity to grow into a site that can serve all our constituencies well. This site provides a foundation with all the basic functions fulfilled and also a foundation upon which we can grow. It provides an excellent starting point from which we can add on things that will enhance the experience for the patrons.” The new website, Smith says, “is increasingly the predominant interface between institutions and the public. It’s where people turn to do their business with our institution, to connect with other people, to learn about us. The website has the opportunity, and the obligation, to facilitate that interaction beautifully.”
A screenshot of the new AMFS website, launched in Spring 2013.