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Aspen Music Festival goes back in time

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Aspen Times fileConductor David Zinman helps kick off the Music Festival Sunday with violinist Gil Shaham.
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ASPEN – It was 60 years ago this summer that the Goethe Bicentennial came to town, and there is good reason to celebrate the anniversary of that momentous event. The Bicentennial spawned the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Music Festival and School – and, oh yes, the modern rebirth of this sleepy, former mining town.

The Aspen Music Festival, however, seems to be taking a low-key approach to its celebration. Instead of trumpeting its birthday with flashy presentations, it is recognizing the occasion, perhaps appropriately, with music itself.

The Music Festival, which opens today and runs through Aug. 23, will mark its 60th with a series of performances that re-create the music that was heard – under a relatively spartan tent – in the summer of 1949.

The theme of backward-looking programming kicks off on Sunday, June 28, when the Aspen Festival Orchestra, with violinist Gil Shaham and conductor and Music Festival music director David Zinman, perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major. The piece is a nod to the Mozart recital performed six decades ago by violinist Erica Morini.

The birthday is most directly addressed in two events in August. On Aug. 6, the Music Festival has its 60th anniversary celebration. The centerpiece is the Aspen debut of soprano Deborah Voigt, who will join Zinman and the Aspen Chamber Symphony in a program of works by Wagner, Beethoven, Weber/Berlioz and R. Strauss. The concert will be preceded by a party.

On Aug. 19, the festival re-creates an event from its inaugural year, as mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and bass-baritone Ryan McKinney play a recital featuring selected works from the June 28, 1949, concert. The performance includes works by Schumann, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert.

Also to be resurrected from 1949: Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, the “Scottish” symphony; Beethoven’s Leonore Overture; and Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

The 2009 Music Festival will further recognize the Goethe Bicentennial by performing works associated with the 18th century writer and humanist. The July 24 concert by the Aspen Chamber Symphony will spotlight Beethoven’s “Egmont,” inspired by Goethe’s play. The Aug. 19 Sinfonia concert features Gounod’s “Faust,” based on Goethe’s version of the German legend of the man who makes a bargain with the devil.

Additional highlights of the season include the performance over two nights of Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos; special events with pianists Yefim Bronfman and Vladimir Feltsman, and violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; appearances by the string bands, the Punch Brothers, and the trio of Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas; and a recital by Dawn Upshaw, spotlighting the work of Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov. The Music Festival will collaborate on events with Jazz Aspen Snowmass and the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

The Aspen Opera Theater Center’s season features productions of “La boheme,” “The Rape of Lucretia” and “Don Giovanni.”

For complete information on the Aspen Music Festival season, visit aspenmusicfestival.com.

stewart@aspentimes.com


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