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Don’t miss Sylvia McNair! Sylvia McNair Sings Gershwin, Sondheim, and More! Monday, August 5 Harris Concert Hall (970) 925-9042

FESTIVAL FOCUS Monday, July 15, 2013

Vol 24, No 5

Alisa Weilerstein Returns to Perform Elgar Weilerstein’s most recent album features Elgar’s Cello Concerto performed Alisa Weilerstein, cello virtuoso and with renowned conductor Daniel Barenalumna of the Aspen Music Festival boim and the Berlin Staatskapelle. Weiand School (AMFS), spent many a lerstein has had numerous professional childhood summer in Aspen while her engagements all over North America parents were on AMFS artist-faculty. since her Cleveland Orchestra début She calls Aspen her “home away from at age 13, but this album marks a new home.” phase of her career. “I grew up going there, every sum“The launch of the CD internationmer of my life until ally heralded the I was 18,” she says. arrival of a major “I made some of new musician on my greatest friendthe world platform,” ships there; I had says Asadour Sansome of the most tourian, AMFS vice insightful master president for artistic classes; I played administration and some of the greatartistic advisor. “The est orchestral repcritical reaction to it ertoire; I had great has been sublime.” experiences in just Perhaps as sigevery way. It was nificant as the rave amazing.” reviews, though, are Weilerstein, now a the recording’s unMacArthur “Genius spoken implications. Asadour Santourian Grant” recipient and Barenboim and his AMFS Vice President for Artistic Administration and Artistic Advisor the first cellist to be wife, the celebrated signed by the prescellist Jacqueline du tigious Decca Classics label in more Pré, made the quintessential recordthan thirty years, will return to Aspen ing of Elgar’s Cello Concerto together this season to play Elgar’s Cello Con- before du Pré’s tragic death from mulcerto in E minor. Leonard Slatkin, also tiple sclerosis in 1987. After her death, an Aspen alumnus and music director Barenboim did not record the piece of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with a female cellist again—until now. will conduct the concert at 4 pm this “That really is a signal that Alisa is a Sunday, July 21, in the Benedict Music Tent. See WEILERSTEIN, Festival Focus page 3 GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

When Alisa takes on a work, she really takes it on and gives it the full attention of her artistic, creative, and imaginative powers.


Cellist Alisa Weilerstein (above) will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at 4 pm this Sunday, July 21, in the Benedict Music Tent.

Dinnerstein, Merritt in ‘Night’ GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

Simone Dinnerstein is a classical pianist from New York famous for her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Tift Merritt is a singer-songwriter from North Carolina who identifies primarily with folk music. Combine Dinnerstein’s touch at the keys with Merritt’s sultry voice and you have something wholly new and creative. Aspen audiences will have a chance to experience it in a concert of works from their album “Night,” released to critical acclaim this year. “Not only did we want to do songs that related to the night, but we also think of the night as being a metaphor for a time that you feel free to explore in the dark, something you might feel frightened to do in the light of day,” Dinnerstein says. “It’s a time when you feel more free, and imaginative, and open to dreams and exploring new terrain.”

Dinnerstein and Merritt will perform works from “Night” as part of the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) at 7:30 pm this Tuesday, July 16, in Harris Hall. The album, which came out in March, is a conglomeration of Merritt’s original songs, selections by Bach and Schubert, and new works commissioned for the duo, including one by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. The result is an indefinable genre, which is exactly what the two musicians intended. “It’s a collaboration that is about getting away from the boxes of genre,” Dinnerstein says. “I wouldn’t call it cross-over because it’s not really that. I think that we are both trying to find what is meaningful and interesting to us in each song that we’re doing and using all of the language that we have available to us to make it speak in the way that makes sense to us.” See NIGHT, Festival Focus page 3


Pianist Simone Dinnerstein (right) and singer-songwriter Tift Merritt (left) have brought their talents together in the album, “Night.”

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Page 2 | Monday, July 15, 2013

FESTIVAL FOCUS: Your Weekly Classical Music Guide

Supplement to The Aspen Times

Percussion Fellow Dreams of a Future in an Orchestra another teacher for classical percussion,” she says. That teacher was Kevin Watkins, an AMFS alumnus Alison Chorn, the 2013 percussion fellow at the As- who often told her about the beauty of Aspen and his pen Music Festival and School (AMFS), did not always own experiences at the Festival. Chorn then chose her college so that she could study with Watkins’s former want to be a percussionist. “It was the weirdest thing. No one played an instru- teacher, Tom Freer. Freer, assistant timpanist and section percussionist ment in my house, and I was this 7-year-old, and I was of the Cleveland Orchestra, is known for his ability to just determined to play piano,” she says. help percussion students get proChorn began taking lessons with fessional jobs. Ukrainian piano teacher Zhenya “I’ve gotten really lucky,” Chorn Devol who “made me fall in love says. “My teacher, he’s just fantaswith classical music,” she says. tic. He looks out for his students Chorn, 21, is from New Brighand makes sure they can get the ton, Minnesota, and will be a seexperience they need.” nior at Cleveland State University Chorn has substituted with the this fall. This is her first summer Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Festival. the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Chorn no longer wants to be a and the West Virginia Symphony pianist, but her love of classical Orchestra, and she holds the prinmusic has stayed consistent. cipal percussionist position in the Now, her dream is to play perAlison Chorn Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. cussion in an orchestra. AMFS Percussion Fellow She often stands out in these proIn fifth grade, Chorn started fessional groups. to play percussion in the school “I’m always the youngest, wherever I go, and there band, but her prior musical training left her bored in class. She started studying privately, and in middle are not many girl percussionists out there,” she says. school, she developed the passion that she has been “But they all know my teacher really well, so they trust his judgment.” pursuing since. At Chorn’s first performance with the Buffalo Philhar“I joined my first youth orchestra, and I was like, ‘This is awesome—I want to do this!’ and that’s when I got monic, she had a glockenspiel solo in Shostakovich’s GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

Making music with other people, and the fact that that can affect someone else’s life, just makes it so worth it. I can’t see myself doing anything else.


Symphony No. 1. She says she was extremely nervous. But at the end of the solo, the entire percussion section shuffled their feet for her, a sign of utmost respect and admiration. Moments such as that one are what keep the young percussionist going. “I’ve always loved performing,” Chorn says. “Making music with other people, and the fact that it can affect someone else’s life makes it so worth it. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

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Supplement to The Aspen Times

FESTIVAL FOCUS: Your Weekly Classical Music Guide

WEILERSTEIN: Several Events this Week Continued from Festival Focus page 1

master of the piece,” Santourian says. “When she takes on a work, she really takes it on and gives it the full attention of her artistic and creative and imaginative powers.” Weilerstein told National Public Radio, “Jacqueline du Pré was—is still—my cello hero ... I think I listened to every bit of footage of Jacqueline du Pré before I was 10.” Weilerstein will be in residence at the Festival all week. Public events include a master class with AMFS cello students on Tuesday, July 16; a “High Notes” discussion with AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher on Wednesday, July 17; and a chamber music concert where she will play Martinů’s String Sextet with AMFS artist-faculty on Saturday, July 20. Also on Sunday’s program is Steven Stucky’s Symphony. Stucky is a member of the AMFS artist-faculty and director of the Festival’s newly revamped composition program. He won the 2005 Pulitzer

Prize for music and holds the longest relationship with an American orchestra on record: twenty-one years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Stucky says Symphony is not programmatic but does depict an emotional journey, from loneliness, to anger, to joy and acceptance.

“There’s not a real story behind that journey, and I think that’s good, actually, because it means that any individual listener, any audience isn’t locked in to my story,” Stucky says. “They have this twenty-minute canvas in which to tell themselves their own stories. That, I think, is the most powerful thing that you can do.”

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Wednesday: World Premiere AMFS Music Director Robert Spano will direct the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra in the world premiere of Adam Schoenberg’s Bounce at 6 pm this Wednesday, July 17, in the Benedict Music Tent. “Adam is one of America’s most dynamic and charismatic young composers,” Spano says. “Bounce was conceived as a dance piece and reflects the kinesthetic energy one would expect in such a work, but it also reveals Adam’s unique voice, wit, and charm.”


Above: Alisa Weilerstein performing with pianist Inon Barnatan in the 2009 Festival.

Aspen Music Festival and School Box Office Hours

Harris Concert Hall: 9 am through the intermission of the evening concert, daily Wheeler Opera House: 9 am–5 pm daily

Free Family Concert this Week, July 16 NIGHT: New Album The piece is a theme and variations that features the instrument families one at time, making it ideal Audiences at the American Academy of for young ones to learn about the orchestra. The Conducting at Aspen (AACA) Orchestra concert kids will be shown each instrument beforehand and this Tuesday will see something they have never therefore be better able to understand what they seen before in the Benedict Music Tent: a parade are hearing. Barnekow, who used to teach general music at of eager kids marching in at intermission, ready to the elementary school level, says that food and hear the orchestra play the second half. “We’ve done family concerts before but not games make this event fun, but music in itself is like this,” says Deborah Barnekow, director of enticing to young children. “Kids of all ages really do like classical music,” community and education programming for the she says. Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS). When Barnekow used to present Musorgsky’s During the first half of the event, kids will be in the Hospitality Tent near the Benedict Music Tent for Pictures at an Exhibition to her classes, kids were an hour of music-related fun called “Kids’ Notes.” “hooked on the piece,” she says. One student came back to visit There will be snacks such as hot after he had gone to college and dogs, mac-and-cheese, veggies, The performance is for had worn out the recording she and dessert, and educational people of all ages, from 1 gave him. As he said, classical activities such as musical bingo about the instrument families month old to 99 years old. music gave him something new to listen for every time. and coloring. In the second half Coincidentally, Pictures at an of the event, families will go in Whatever your age may be, Exhibition is the work that kids to the Tent and hear Britten’s it’s a great experience. will explore in this summer’s The Young Person’s Guide to the second Kids’ Notes and free Orchestra. Kathryn Sansone family concert event, which The event takes place at 4 pm AMFS Associate Dean will be at 5 pm on Wednesday, this Tuesday, July 16, and is free August 14. for the public. Both events are free for Kids’ Notes participants. The goal of Kids’ Notes is not only to reach youth No tickets are required for July 16. For August 14, in the valley, but also their parents. “The program is focused on kids, but it’s for families can reserve free tickets ahead of time by families,” says Kathryn Sansone, associate dean of contacting Emily Morley ( the AMFS. “When you have young kids, going to an or 970-205-5079), or at the door of the event at the orchestra concert just isn’t always in the cards, so Hospitality Tent. There is no age requirement to attend either this is a way to help them experience live music in concert. a way that works for their family.” “Bring your youngest, bring your oldest,” Sansone “A lot of children in this valley have never seen or heard an orchestra, and the fact that we’re doing says. “The performance is for people of all ages, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra couldn’t from 1 month old to 99 years old. Whatever your age may be, it’s a great experience.” be more perfect,” Barnekow says. GRACE LYDEN

Continued from Festival Focus page 1

Festival Focus writer

Merritt and Dinnerstein met in 2008 when Gramophone, the world’s premier classical music magazine, was doing a profile on Dinnerstein. Gramophone wanted a musician from a different genre to interview her, and Merritt, who has a public radio show in which she interviews fellow artists, was chosen for the job. “We had already been listening to each other’s music, and when we were talking about the artistic process, life on the road, being a woman musician, and different values that we have for our life and our work, we realized we had quite a lot in common,” Dinnerstein says. Although Merritt and Dinnerstein come from different musical backgrounds, both of their musical worlds have strict sets of practices, Dinnerstein says. “Night,” in contrast, has been an experiment in escaping rules entirely and “getting away from any constraints that don’t allow a song to develop completely freely.” For Merritt, that meant learning to be herself with classical music, by bringing it “into her own sphere,” Dinnerstein says. For Dinnerstein, it meant learning how to improvise, which was not a part of her classical education at the Manhattan School of Music or the Juilliard School. “Simone Dinnerstein has proven that she is an artist with imagination and possesses absolutely a great curiosity about music outside of our realm,” says Asadour Santourian, AMFS vice president for artistic administration and artistic advisor. During the tours for “Night,” the music has received positive reviews from publications such as the Washington Post and the Chicago Reader, which wrote, “Stunning…the album feels like two good friends in a parlor session.” National Public Radio says of the album, “The songs…are of the introspective, after-dark variety, perhaps best heard alone by candlelight.” Although the duo has been performing “Night” all over the globe, Dinnerstein says the music is suited to Aspen. “It’s such an incredibly beautiful place to both play music and listen to music,” she says. “The scenery there is so inspiring. It’s kind of limitless, and I think that should translate to a feeling of limitless possibilities in the music.”


Read all about the upcoming week at the Aspen Music Festival and School.