1993: A heaven of a hall | AspenTimes.com

1993: A heaven of a hall

In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society. A heaven of a hallBy Diane Eagle KataokaFrom the Crown Courtyard, where the corks of Tattinger champagne will be popped in celebration of its long-awaited grand opening tonight, the Joan and Irving Harris Concert Hall looks nothing if not unprepossessing.Its low profile hints more at a concession stand for the neighboring Music Tent than the most important new public edifice built in Aspen since the silver-boom days a century ago.But once the caviar canapes are eaten and the last glass of champagne downed and the gala celebrants finally file down the hall’s central staircase to lake their seats for the opening concert, they will have their breath taken away.For underneath that modest exterior lies buried an architectural jewel of a concert hall – a hall that promises to take the Aspen Music Festival to a whole new level of accomplishment and international fame.Any doubts about that will be dispelled when festival music director Lawrence Foster brings down the baton on the first notes of the world premiere of composer Joan Tower’s “Fanfare.” Not only is the architecture masterful, but the sound is sublime. According to the musicians who have been testing it during pre-opening rehearsals.”This may be one of the great halls in the world, here in Aspen, says festival president Robert Harth, who has fussed and worried over the hall’s gestation like a mother hen. “And this is not an overstatement.”Philanthropists Joan and Irvin Harris, for whom the hall was named because of their $1 million gift that kicked off the hall’s fund raising campaign, say the hall goes far beyond their wildest hopes. ‘”The hall is a gasper,” Joan Harris says. “I haven’t been in there with anybody whose jaw hasn’t dropped open.”Forty-four years after its founding, the Aspen Music Festival finally has an enclosed, year-round, state-of-the-an permanent performance center that seems certain to enhance its international reputation and make it even more attractive for the world’s most accomplished musicians to gather here to perform and record.Build it and they will come”Who could have dreamed that it would have worked out so well? I think we have a winner,” says Joan Harris.But, she emphasizes, the campaign is not over. “We have a long way to go to raise $4 million for the Endowment Fund (and $6 million to improve the Aspen Music School’s Castle Creek campus). Now it’s the human potential we’re raising money for.For that reason, Gordon and Lillian Hardy have just given a one million dollar gift toward the Endowment Fund. “No matter how much you build buildings, you must have something to put in them. The Endowment Fund is equally, if not more important than the building,” says Gordon Hardy. (Aug. 21-22, 1993)Highway department swamped by 1,500 pro-four-lane lettersBy Cameron M. BurnsAlthough the Colorado Department of Transportation has now received nearly 1,500 letters calling for the four-laning of Highway 82, CDOT officials say that upper valley governments will have to endorse four-laning before it can happen.”We’re still interacting heavily with the (Pitkin) County commissioners,” said CDOT’s corridor manager for Highway 82 Ralph Trapani, who noted that “the DOT wants to hear” from the elected officials in Aspen, Snowmass and Pitkin County when it comes to spending $3.58 million awarded to the upper valley in December.Those three governments, involved in the Snowmass-to-Aspen Transportation Plan, have been eyeing “high occupancy vehicle” lanes between Aspen and Brush Creek Road, as well as an intercept lot, improvements to the airport business center intersection and, possibly, an Owl Creek busway.”It’s not exactly up to the BOCC,” Trapani said. “It’s ultimately up to the state transportation commission, (but) we want to understand what the priorities are in the upper valley.”Although four-laning is one very big priority for many residents, spending $3.5 million would go almost nowhere towards four-laning from Basalt to Aspen. Some estimates have put the four-laning between Brush Creek Road and Aspen alone at $7 million.And Trapani said that money – specifically targeted for areas east of Brush Creek Road – could be spent on preliminary engineering for bigger projects in future years.”If, in another year, something broke loose with funding (and preliminary engineering is not done),” Trapani said. “You start kicking yourself. There’s a real tight-rope that needs to be walked. There are so many trade offs.”Ultimately, those tradeoffs could mean the difference between an intercept lot at Brush Creek Road or a new bridge at Wingo Junction, according to Trapani.”I just believe the inputs of the elected officials up there are important,” he said.More lettersTuesday, Trapani said his office had received about 1,490 letters over the past two weeks calling for the four-laning of Highway 82.Many of the letters made reference to the deaths of two men who swerved into oncoming traffic Monday.”Definitely there’s a high level of public expression on that road,” Trapani said. “I’d guess there are maybe 5 or 10 letters in that package that say ‘no way’ (to four-laning) and there are more and more coming in every day.””And we’re well aware of those fatalities,” he said. (March 3)”And we’re well aware of those fatalities,” he said. (March 3)