Aspen Music Festival announces dance-themed 2016 summer season |

Aspen Music Festival announces dance-themed 2016 summer season

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Aspen Music Festival and School music director Robert Spano. The conductor will premiere his Four Elements," a new piano sonata, during the summer season.
Aspen Times file |

The Aspen Music Festival’s 2016 summer season will include 71/2 weeks of programming with more than 400 events and concerts running June 30 to Aug. 21.

Centered around the theme “Invitation to Dance,” the season will open July 3 with Robert Spano conducting Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, and performances throughout the summer will highlight the use of dance elements in music. Themed concerts include the Hector Del Curto Quintet performing “Eternal Tango” (July 25), flamenco dancer Siudy Garrido performing Falla’s “El amor brujo” (Aug. 19), Antheil’s archipalego “Rumba” (July 6) and Dominich Argento’s tango “The Dream of Valentino” (July 24).

“Just as every culture that I know of throughout history has had music, every culture has had dance; naturally they go together,” Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher said Monday. “It’s a nice way to focus on a lot of music that incorporates dance forms and rhythms into it.”

The broad dance theme also allowed programmers to build sub-themes within the program, including a series of forgotten works by 20th-century American composers and work by composers based near the Arctic Circle.

The American symphonies running throughout the season include rarely performed pieces by Charles Ives, Roger Sessions, Erich Korngold and others on the program. Fletcher said he is hopeful the program will reinvigorate interest in their work.

“It’s truly great music, and most of the pieces our audience will never have heard,” he said. “We’re counting on the fact that we have one of the best audiences in all of classical music, and they will attend and go away with their experiences of these pieces.”

Nordic, Russian and Alaskan composers get the spotlight in “White Nights: Music of the Arctic Circle,” including Kaija Saariaho’s opera “L’Amour de loin” (Aug. 5) and Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams’ “Inuksuit,” an outdoor installation for 99 percussionists (Aug. 7).

“You don’t hear ice and snow in the pieces, but they’re all by people that indeed lived in or near the Arctic,” Fletcher said.

The festival also will host the first regional American El Sisterna youth orchestra camp, created in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Longy School of Music at Bard College.

The season will close Aug. 21 with Carl Orff’s Carmina burana, with Spano conducting the Aspen Festival Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Chorus, the Colorado Children’s Chorale and singers Amanda Woodsbury, Matthew Plenk and Noel Bouley.

Additional highlights:

• The Aspen Opera Center’s program at the Wheeler Opera House will feature Puccini’s “La boheme” (July 14 through 18), William Bolcom’s “A Wedding” (July 28 through 30) and Berlioz’s “Beatrice et Benedict” (Aug. 16 through 20).

• Pianist Jonathan Biss also will launch a three-year residency in Aspen, performing all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. The project begins with 14 sonatas over three recitals Aug. 2, 16 and 17

• The Emerson String Quartet’s 40th-anniversary concert is set July 19.

• “Shakespeare and Music” series, featuring music inspired by The Bard’s plays and poetry, including Mendelssohn’s Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Aug. 12) and Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy Overture (Aug. 3).

• Premieres include a piano sonata by Aspen Music Festival music director Robert Spano titled “Four Elements,” Mahammed Fairouz’s song cycle “Typhoid Mary,” and works by Weijun Chen, Eric Nathan and Libby Larsen.

• Motown legend Smokey Robinson, co-presented by Jazz Aspen Snowmass, on July 2.

• Tapings of the radio programs “Performance Today” and “From the Top.”

• Return performances from local favorites, including violinists Joshua Bell, Jennifer Koh, Midori, Gil Shaham and Simone Porter; pianists Jeremy Denk, Wu Han, Orli Shaham and Joyce Yang; cellists David Finckel and Alisa Weilerstein; and singer Renee Fleming.

• The grand opening of the award-winning $80 million Bucksbaum Campus on Castle Creek Road, which will complete its final phase of redevelopment before summer.