Page 1


FESTIVAL FOCUS Supplement to The Aspen Times

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vol 23, No. 9

Final Concert: Mahler's 'Symphony of a Thousand' The symphony is a work in two parts. “The first movement is this overwhelming experience Mahler's Symphony No. 8, a work of incredible depth of sound,” says AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher. and proportion, was written in a sudden burst of inspi- “I’ve often said it’s like bodysurfing off the north coast of ration in the summer of 1906. The composer offered Hawaii. You are swept up, and the force of nature is so the piece to renounce the pessimism of his earlier much bigger than yourself, it almost feels dangerous.” works and portray his confidence in the human spirit. Spano says he is looking forward to conducting the The Aspen Festival Orchestra (AFO) will perform the eighty-minute work not only for its excitement, but also “Symphony of a Thousand,” as it is often called, at for its beauty. 4 pm this Sunday, August 19, “There are moments in this in the Benedict Music Tent. piece that are gargantuan Robert Spano, music director and epic in their scope and of of the Aspen Music Festival course, the piece has that qualand School (AMFS), will conity on the whole, but to me, duct the orchestra in its final one of the extraordinary things concert of the 2012 season. about the Eighth Symphony The symphony’s nickname and Mahler in general is the comes from Mahler's decision amount of chamber music that to employ expanded orchestral he writes within that context,” forces and three choruses. Spano says. “When we hear the opening Mahler’s second movements Alan Fletcher chord of this work, the mamare often lyrical and soloistic, AMFS President and CEO moth, monolithic size of the Spano says. gesture signals that we’re in “There’s actually incredible for an incredible, transformative musical journey,” says variety within the journey,” Spano says. “It’s like a kaleiAsadour Santourian, AMFS vice president for artistic doscopic turning of colors and possibilities.” administration and artistic advisor. "It’s very exciting to Toward the end of the symphony, the climax apsee the choruses arrayed beyond the choir loft, onto proaches with a gradual crescendo and a return of the the stage, and the orchestral forces onstage filling every off-stage brass, in what Fletcher calls Mahler’s attempt crevice and corner of the space." to “encompass the human experience of the universe.” The Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Kantorei, The Symphony No. 8 has been performed at the and the Colorado Children’s Chorale will join the AFO AMFS before, but not since the remodeling of the Muon Sunday and have been preparing for a year. Vocal sic Tent in 2000. soloists will include AMFS alumni Sasha Cooke, mezzo“It’s just one of those pieces that must be experisoprano, and Ryan McKinny, bass-baritone. Both re- enced live,” Fletcher says. “There is no way of recording cently made their debuts with the Metropolitan Opera. it that gives you any sense of it.” GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

[The first movement of Mahler 8] is like bodysurfing off the north coast of Hawaii. ... the force of nature is so much bigger than yourself, it almost feels dangerous.


To close his inaugural season as music director of the AMFS, Robert Spano will conduct Mahler's Symphony No. 8 at 4 pm Sunday, August 19, in the Benedict Music Tent.

AOTC Presents Harbison's The Great Gatsby the story to that of the Titanic. “You build something that’s fantastic that fails,” Of all classic American literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Berkeley says. “It is this notion of a group of people, all The Great Gatsby is the work that most eloquently cap- of whom are chasing ultimate happiness and frivolity tures both the frivolity of the Jazz Age and the tragedy and escape, and ultimately it’s sort of undermined by of a failed dream. how difficult it is ever to achieve Fitting with the Aspen Music those dreams.” Festival and School’s (AMFS) Harbison’s libretto directly “Made in America” season, quotes the novel, and the muthe Aspen Opera Theater Censic, too, has an element of tragter (AOTC) will perform John edy that Berkeley says is approHarbison’s opera of this Great priate for the plot. American Novel at 7 pm Thurs“The romance of the characday, August 16, and Saturday, ters is so powerful, and that’s August 18, in the Wheeler Opthe thing that’s really in the era House. score just brilliantly, both vocalIn the story, protagonist Jay ly and orchestrally: the sense of Gatsby has spent a lifetime romance and the sense of longEdward Berkeley gaining the wealth and stature ing for a dream,” Berkeley says. AOTC Director he thinks will win back his first But the backdrop of Roaring love, the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. But Daisy now has Twenties prosperity and parties is a stark contrast to both a husband and a child to complicate their reunion, the characters’ sadness, and Harbison’s opera portrays and the two do not ride off into the sunset. Longtime AOTC director Edward Berkeley compares See GATSBY Festival Focus page 3 GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

The romance of the characters is so powerful, and that's the thing that's really in the score just brilliantly ... the sense of longing for a dream.

The iconic book cover of The Great Gatsy: Celestial Eyes (1925) by Francis Cugat. Courtesy of the Princeton University Library.

Buy tickets now! (970) 925-9042 or

Page 2 | Monday, August 13, 2012

FESTIVAL FOCUS: Your Weekly Classical Music Guide

Supplement to The Aspen Times

'Veda' Kaplinsky: Legacy of Teaching at AMFS Kaplinsky originally planned to return to Israel to teach after receiving her degree. Year after year, pianists in Yoheved Kaplinsky’s studio “From the very beginning, I felt that teaching was the win prizes in the Aspen Music Festival and School thing I loved doing the most,” Kaplinsky says. “I love (AMFS) piano competitions. This year, two of her former interacting with people; I love interacting with young, summer students have returned as guest artists: Joyce talented people; I love having a positive impact on Yang and Conrad Tao. For Kaplinsky, nothing compares young people’s lives.” to seeing her students perform at the Festival. Kaplinsky stayed in the United States and has had a “Meaningful is an understatement,” Kaplinsky says. prolific teaching career here, serving on the faculties of “It’s the most rewarding thing there is. I sit there and the Peabody Conservatory and the Manhattan School have to pinch myself. I feel so of Music. She holds master’s lucky that I could guide them and doctoral degrees from the into this position.” Juilliard School and joined its This is Kaplinsky’s ninth faculty in 1993. She is now chair summer as a member of the of the Piano Division and artistic AMFS artist-faculty, and she says director of the Pre-College she fell in love with Aspen on her Division there. first drive here from Denver. Many of Kaplinsky's year“I’ve always had a very soft round students come to the spot for Aspen,” she says. "It’s the AMFS to continue their lessons ideal environment for musicians in the summer, such as the Yoheved Kaplinsky AMFS Artist-Faculty in the summer, and it’s the ideal winner and runner-up of the blend of nature and art." recent American Academy of Kaplinsky, who goes by “Veda," was born in Israel Conducting at Aspen (AACA) Piano Competition: Colton and put on a track to become a musician at the age of Peltier and Sarina Zhang, respectively. five. She did not make the personal decision to pursue This is both Peltier's and Zhang's sixth summer at music until the age of sixteen, when she was offered a the Festival. Peltier will be a sophomore at the Juilliard scholarship to the Juilliard School. School this fall, and Zhang is enrolled in the Pre-College “I can’t remember at this point if the big draw was Division. Zhang is also a cello fellowship student and Juilliard or New York, but I was just so excited that I won the AACA Low Strings Competition in 2010. became a musician and never looked back,” Kaplinsky "Veda has helped me not just in my piano playing, says. “It’s always been a part of my life, and what I loved but in my daily life," Zhang says. "She is not just a piano best, and what I loved the most.” pedagogue, but also an inspiring role model to me." GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

From the very beginning, I felt that teaching was the thing I loved doing the most.


Peltier says that when he first came to Kaplinsky at the age of ten, he did not have the ability to express his many musical ideas. Through her commitment to his learning, though, he says his playing "transformed." "I have never seen anyone so dedicated and passionate about teaching as Veda," he says. "Through her passion in her teaching, my love for piano has intensified, as I want to be my best and give her the respect she deserves."

Buy tickets now: (970) 925-9042 •

FESTIVAL FOCUS: Your Weekly Classical Music Guide

Supplement to The Aspen Times

An Evening With Performance Today!

Monday, August 13, 2012 | Page 3

Jean-Yves Thibaudet Salutes Debussy


Jean-Yves Thibaudet playing under the direction of AMFS Music Director Robert Spano in 2011. Thibaudet will play an all-Debussy recital for the Festival at 8 pm this Tuesday, August 14, in Harris Concert Hall. GRACE LYDEN

Festival Focus writer

Fred Child, host ALEX IRVIN / AMFS

The nation's top classical radio show, Performance Today, returns to the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) for an evening of conversation and music with Festival talent at 8 pm Monday, August 13, in Harris Concert Hall. Performers will include violinist Robert McDuffie, pianist John O'Conor, composer John Harbison, nine-year-old violinist Elizabeth Aoki, and AMFS Music Director Robert Spano on piano.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who performed Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with the Aspen Festival Orchestra (AFO) last Sunday, will perform again for the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) at 8 pm Tuesday, August 14, in an all-Debussy recital at Harris Concert Hall. The recital is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The exact date for this anniversary is six days after the recital, on August 22. Thibaudet will play the second book of Préludes, as well as Suite bergamasque, Estampes, and L’isle joyeuse, in a program that represents Debussy’s early, middle, and late composition periods. The composer was a pianist himself and wrote for the instrument throughout his short life. Born in Lyon, France, Thibaudet has been a champion of

Pro Arte Quartet: Celebrating 100 Years

French music in his thirty-year performing career. His forty albums include works by Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen, Satie, and Saint-Saëns. “This music I think is in his DNA,” says Asadour Santourian, AMFS vice president for artistic administration and artistic advisor. “He immediately offered us an all-Debussy program in honor of the composer’s anniversary.” Debussy did not refer to himself as “Impressionist,” but musical scholars concur that the colors of his music were unlike any before him and that his disregard for rule-driven harmonies influenced countless composers after. “He was an original voice that informed many composers, both those who have respected his work but not followed in his track and others who have emulated him,” Santourian says. “He’s definitely a milepost in the musical evolution of compositional language.”

Gatsby: Last AOTC Continued from Festival Focus page 1


The world-renowned Pro Arte Quartet, founded in 1912 at the Brussels Conservatory, will perform a recital at 8:30 pm Wednesday, August 15, in Harris Concert Hall. The program will include Barber's Adagio for Strings and Schubert's String Quartet in C major, op. 163, D. 956, as well as works by Bloch and John Harbison. Harbison's String Quartet No. 5 was commissioned by the ensemble, and this will be its second performance.

Join us this winter for more music:

Gil Shaham violin Akira Eguchi piano

Takács Quartet

Conrad Tao piano

February 5

February 28

March 16

Shaham and Eguchi return to Aspen for a winter evening's concert.

Don't miss the always wonderful Takács Quartet, returning after a year away.

AMFS alumnus and 2012 Avery Fisher Career Grant Winner makes his Winter Music debut.

this with dance scenes and a pastiche of jazz music, says AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher. “The way he incorporates jazz into a modern score is really brilliant,” Fletcher says. “It works so well, many people are convinced they’re listening to period 1920s jazz, when every single note was original.” The Metropolitan Opera performed the world premiere of The Great Gatsby in 1999, and the work has been performed only a few times since, in part because the score calls for such a large orchestra. The AMFS co-commissioned a reduced orchestration for this summer. The music remains unpublished, though, and there are few available recordings, so most of the AOTC performers did not know the work when they were cast last winter. “You get assigned a role and you want to take a look at it, to sing some of it, and see if it’s healthy and a good fit, and I couldn’t do that,” says Meredith Lustig, who is playing the principal role of Daisy. “All I could do was ask people and coaches who might have heard it when it premiered.” Lustig returns to the AMFS for the first time since 2008 as a recipient of the Edward Berkeley Endowed Fellowship. She is now in the midst of a professional opera career. When she graduated from the Juilliard School with a master’s degree in 2011, she had already made her debut with the New York City Opera, and she will enter the Pittsburgh Opera's Resident Artist program this fall. Lustig says she often ends up singing operas that are “off the beaten path,” such as The Great Gatsby, and she likes it that way. The first opera she saw was Mark Adamo’s Little Women, another English-language work, and its familiarity was the reason she caught the “opera bug.” “Seeing that opera in English and being able to relate to it and understand, it felt so close to me. That was really what got me interested in opera in the first place, so to be doing this American piece feels pretty natural,” Lustig says. “When the words are your own language, that’s really something special, because you just connect to it that much more closely.”

Festival Focus, Week 8  
Festival Focus, Week 8  

your weekly guide to classical music