Rufus Wainwright to perform with string orchestra at Aspen Music Festival and School |

Rufus Wainwright to perform with string orchestra at Aspen Music Festival and School

Rufus Wainwright will perform Monday with the Aspen Music Festival and School orchestra.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

Who: Rufus Wainwright

Where: Harris Concert Hall

When: Monday, July 25, 8 p.m.

How much: $75

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House and Harris Hall box offices;

Rufus Wainwright is straddling the classical and pop music worlds these days.

The singer-songwriter is privately work-shopping a new opera at the Aspen Music Festival and School this summer and giving a recital at Harris Concert Hall on Monday.

A regular on local stages, Wainwright said before a January 2016 concert at Belly Up Aspen that the greatest-hits album, “Vibrate” (2014) and his recent entrenchment in the classical-music world has prepared him to dive back into making the kind of ambitious pop songs that brought him both critical acclaim and a global audience.

“I’m at an interesting juncture right now,” Wainwright explained. “Because I put out ‘Vibrate,’ I put out my first opera, I’m working on my next opera and I’ve created this chasm at the moment that’s waiting to be filled with a whole new repertoire of popular songs.”

At Monday night’s concert, Wainwright will be performing songs from his repertoire in new arrangements for a string orchestra. The concert will be conducted by Canadian Opera Company director Johannes Debus. He will also speak on Tuesday at an Aspen Music Fest Salon Signature Event with visual artist Jim Hodges. The talk is open only to Salon members.

Since his self-titled 1998 debut, Wainwright has penned modern classics like “Poses” and “Going to a Town,” but after five pop albums he turned toward his first musical love: opera. He first entrenched himself in the form, he said, at 13. His opera “Prima Donna” debuted in 2009 and was revived last year (excerpts also were performed at the 2014 Aspen Music Festival). A second opera, “Hadrian,” is slated to debut in Toronto in 2018. His most recent pop-oriented effort was the 2012 album “Out of the Game.”

“It’s been great to have a break from making records, setting up a tour, then making another record,” he said. “It’s a slog. So after doing the best-of and the classical work, I’m going to be really hungry and on fire for my next pop work.”

Writing classical music versus pop songs come from entirely different parts of his brain, Wainwright said.

“When you’re doing pop music you have to have one eye on what other people are doing, what an audience can relate to, to a degree, and whether you want to go sing these songs every night for three years,” he said.

Over the last decade, his shows have become a semiannual tradition at around the New Year at Belly Up and in the summer time at the Aspen Music Festival.

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