Aspen Music Festival announces Paris-themed summer season | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Music Festival announces Paris-themed summer season

The Aspen Music Festival and School's 70th season will host more then 400 concerts and events with guest performers and 600 students from around the world. The festival announced season details today.

The festival's theme for 2018 is "Paris, City of Light." Themed concerts include works by Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Poulenc, Offenbach, Bizet, Ibert, Gounod, Messiaen and Boulez, as well as Paris-influenced works like Stravinsky's Parisian ballet score "Petrushka" and Mozart's "Paris" Symphony.

"Paris has always been a center for collaboration in the arts," Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher said in a phone interview Monday. "Theater, dance, visual arts, literature. It's always been a culture — the so-called 'cafe society' — where all these different kinds of artists work together and know each other. That's a nice theme for us, because we really care about collaboration."

The Music Festival indeed is adding to its collaborative efforts in 2018, partnering on a ballet commission with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Partnerships with Anderson Ranch, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Film and other local arts organizations also continue this summer.

In a mini-theme, festival programs will focus on the American composition students of Parisian Nadia Boulanger, who Fletcher calls "arguably the greatest composition teacher in history."

The eight-week season will run from June 28 to Aug. 19. Tickets go on sale today.

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Among the high-profile performers coming to Aspen is pianist and Aspen alumna Yuja Wang, who returns to Aspen after a meteoric rise to international fame in recent years. She will be a featured soloist during the season's first Sunday concert in the Benedict Music Tent on Sunday, July 1, with music director Robert Spano conducting and the Aspen Festival Orchestra performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Shostakovich's "Leningrad" Symphony. Wang also will join the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra on July 11 to perform Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.

Fletcher said that Music Fest Vice President Asadour Santourian approached Wang backstage at Carnegie Hall last year in the hopes of convincing her to return to Aspen, only to find she already had a plan.

"She said, 'Oh, I've already decided to come back and I want to come for 10 days, do two concerts and a master class,'" Fletcher recalled.

The season will close Aug. 19 with Spano conducting Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique" and selected scenes from Wagner's "Die Walküre" with soloists Tamara Wilson and Ryan McKinny.

Russian piano sensation Daniil Trifonov is on the festival bill as both a performer and composer, performing his own concerto with the Aspen Chamber Symphony on July 15 and a recital of works by and about Chopin on July 10.

Opera legend, soprano and Aspen alumna Renée Fleming returns to give a recital July 3. She also will teach a master class July 2.

Premieres scheduled for the season include Stephen Hartke's cello concerto "Da Pacem" on July 25, Anders Hillborg's homage to Stravinsy on July 22 and as-yet untitled new works by Krists Auznieks on Aug. 15 and Kati Agócs on June 28.

The season opens Thursday, June 28, with a recital by Jupiter String Quartet at Harris Concert Hall.

The opening Aspen Chamber Symphony Concert at the Benedict will welcome pianist Conrad Tao as a soloist and performances of a new Edgar Meyer orchestral work, Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Along with Beethoven's Fifth, the season includes some of the most popular works in the canon. Among them are Beethoven's Symphonies No. 3, 6, and 7 (July 13, 17 and 27), Musorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" (July 15), Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Holst's The Planets (Aug. 8), Debussy's "La mer" (Aug. 12) and Gershwin's "An American in Paris" (Aug. 15).

The festival is launching a new partnership with Seraphic Fire, the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble. Seraphic Fire will lead a two-week educational program — the only summer program in the U.S. designed to train ensemble singers — along with an Aug. 17 performance of Mozart's "Requiem" with the Aspen Chamber Symphony and two post-season recitals Aug. 20 and 22.

"Throughout our history we've had important choral pieces but haven't had any choral training, per se," Fletcher said. "We've had tremendous response in terms of applications."

In another new initiative, the Music Festival will open a new brass chamber music program led by the American Brass Quintet, which has been in residence at the Aspen festival annually since 1970. The four-week program will include individual instruction, group coaching, master classes and performances for brass chamber students.

The Aspen Opera Center will perform full-stage productions of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" (July 12-16) and Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann" (Aug 14-18) along with a concert performance of the Leonard Bernstein one-act "Trouble in Tahiti" woven together with Charlie Chaplin's film "A Dog's Life" (Aug. 5).

"I think that will be great fun for the audience," Fletcher said of the unique film and music presentation.

The festival also is reviving the Science of Music lecture series for three events at the Aspen Community Church. The series includes a July 26 talk with locally based architect Harry Teague and acoustician Larry Kirkegaardon discussing concert hall acoustics. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Teague-designed Harris Concert Hall, which the festival will celebrate July 28 with a recital by violinist Robert McDuffie.

Pianist Joyce Yang, an Aspen favorite, also will return in August for two encore performances with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Yang is premiering a collaborative ballet based on Shumann's "Carnaval," with choreographer Jorma Elo, in March. The piece was co-commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

In another collaboration, the Music Festival and Jazz Aspen Snowmass will co-present a tribute to Ray Charles in the Benedict Tent on June 30, with 10-time Grammy-winning a capella group Take 6 and special guests Nnenna Freelon, Clint Holmes and Kirk Whalum backed by the H2 Big Band.

Additional highlights:

Aspen alumna, violinist Sarah Chang, performing Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D minor (Aug. 15). She also performs the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with Aspen Chamber Symphony (Aug. 10).

Jonathan Biss returns to Aspen for the third and final year of his three-year Beethoven Complete Piano Sonata odyssey (Aug. 16 and 18); violinist James Ehnes begins a three-year Aspen journey through the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas (July 21).

Violinist Daniel Hope plays a recital with a program that includes Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher's Violin Concerto, a work that will be premiered this March in Savannah before it is played in Aspen (July 17).

A evening of 19th- and 20th-century French organ works with organist Gail Archer at Aspen Community Church (July 8).

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin performs a recital with Aspen alumna and Metropolitan Opera regular, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (Aug. 5).

Composition faculty Stephen Hartke and Christopher Theofanidis will be joined by visiting composers Kati Agócs, Gabriela Lena Frank, Sebastian Fagerlund, Anders Hillborg, Andrew Norman and Eric Nathan.

atravers@aspentimes.com

Aspen Music Festival 2018 Season Highlights

June 28: Recital by Jupiter String Quartet, Harris Concert Hall

June 29: Aspen Chamber Symphony with Conrad Tao (piano), Benedict Music Tent

July 1: Aspen Festival Orchestra with Yuja Wang (piano), Benedict

July 3: Recital by Renée Fleming (soprano), Benedict

July 5: Rectal by Junction Trio, Harris

July 7: Recital by Arnaud Sussmann (violin), Paul Neubauer (viola), David Finckel (cello), and Wu Han (piano), Harris

July 10: Recital by Daniil Trifonov (piano) Harris

July 11: Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra with Yuja Wang, Benedict

July 12-16: Aspen Opera Center, Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville,’ Wheeler Opera House

July 14: Recital by Orli Shaham (piano), Harris

July 15: Aspen Festival Orchestra with Daniil Trifonov and Voices of Aspen Opera Center, Benedict

July 17: Recital by Daniel Hope (violin), Harris

July 19: Recital by Augustin Hadelich (violin), Harris

July 26: Science of Music with Alan Fletcher, Larry Kirkegaard, Carl Giegold and Harry Teague, Aspen Community Church

July 27: Aspen Chamber Symphony with Golda Schultz (soprano) and Inin Barnatan (piano), Benedict

July 28: Recital by Robert McDuffie (violin), Harris

July 29: Aspen Festival Orchestra with Behzod Abduraimov (piano), Benedict

July 31: Recital by Alisa Weilerstein (cello), Harris

Aug. 4: Recital by Gil Shaham (violin) and Robert Spano (piano), Harris

Aug. 5: Aspen Festival Orchestra with Midori (violin), Benedict

Aug. 8: Recital by American String Quartet, Harris

Aug. 9: Recital by Sharon Isbin (guitar), Harris

Aug. 10: Aspen Chamber Symphony with Ben Bliss (tenor) and Sarah Chang (violin), Benedict

Aug. 10 & 11: Joyce Yang (piano) and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Aspen District Theater

Aug. 12: Aspen Festival Orchestra with Vladimir Feltsman (piano), Benedict

Aug. 14-18: Aspen Opera Center, Offenbach’s ‘The Tales of Hoffmann,’ Wheeler

Aug. 15: Recital by Sarah Chang (violin), Harris

Aug. 16 & 18: Jonathan Biss plays Beethoven Sonatas, Harris

Aug. 19: Aspen Festival Orchestra with Tamara Wilson and Ryan McKinny, Benedict

Aug. 20 & 22: Seraphic Fire, Harris

Full program online at http://www.aspenmusicfestival.com