Aspen Times Weekly cover story: 13 to watch this summer |

Aspen Times Weekly cover story: 13 to watch this summer

Stewart OksenhornAspen Times WeeklyAspen, CO Colorado
Photo by Alex IrvinCover by Afton Groepper

ASPEN – Every time a dancer takes the stage, a writer publishes his words or a gallery owner puts an exhibition on the walls, there is an element of risk going on. Even the most experienced sculptor, ballerina or singer feels there is something at stake when he puts his work out for public view to be scrutinized, criticized, embraced or rejected. And if the artist doesn’t feel exposed, he might reconsider his commitment to his creativity. But for every artist there are moments that are heightened. Maybe new creative paths are being explored, there is a bend in the career or there are circumstances surrounding a performance or exhibition that put the artist on the spot.For the audience, it can be crucial to know when someone is living in such circumstances; it can make the creative act come even more alive. So spotlighted below are 13 people in the arts to keep an eye on this summer. There is a little more going on than might be immediately apparent.

Who: Aspen-based writerWhere to find him: Reading and book-signing for his new novel at 5:30 p.m. on July 2 at Explore Booksellers. The event coincides with the publication date of his new novel, “Say Nice Things About Detroit.”What’s up: Last year Lasser quit his other job, working for a hedge fund, giving up his career in finance to focus full time on writing. His latest novel, his fourth, “Say Nice Things About Detroit,” is a sharp, insightful exploration of race, family, new beginnings and the Motor City. Lasser’s business interests now have only to do with writing: He has sold his screenplay “Say Nice Things” and is developing ideas for TV shows. And he is into his next novel – set in a mountain town reminiscent of old Aspen.

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Who: Anna Forr and David Floria, both Aspen gallery ownersWhere to find them: Their new gallery, on the Hyman Avenue mallWhat’s up: Floria has been prominent in Aspen’s contemporary art scene since the mid-’80s, when he was a curator at the Aspen Art Museum; he later opened an eponymous gallery. Forr, who studied art in London, entered the local gallery picture four years ago, specializing in modernist masters Chagall, Picasso and Mir. Both are up for a career reinvention as they merge their businesses; the new Forr Floria Gallery will show both contemporary artists – including locals like Ingrid Magidson – as well as 20th-century icons.

Who: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company dancerWhere to see him: At Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performances July 20 and 21 and Aug. 25, both programs of mixed repertoire at the Aspen District TheatreWhat’s up: The ASFB company loses a last link to its beginnings. DelGrasso was one of the original company members, when there were eight dancers and the organization had little idea that ahead would be international tours, glowing reviews and a leadership position in contemporary dance. DelGrasso bows out most gracefully with a pair of local appearances this summer.

Who: Aspen Music Festival composer-in-residenceWhere to hear her music: The Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by George Manahan and with soloist Jennifer Koh, performs Thomas’ Violin Concerto No. 3, “Juggler in Paradise,” on Aug. 8 at the Benedict Music TentWhat’s up: The Aspen Music Festival has four resident composers this summer – three of whom are fixtures in Aspen, and Thomas, a relative newbie. “Ritual Incantations,” her piece for cello and chamber orchestra, premiered in Aspen in 1999 to commemorate the Music Festival’s 50th anniversary, but this is her first season in residence here. Aspen audiences should get accustomed to her style; Thomas is part of the Atlanta School of Composers championed by Robert Spano, who is in his first year as music director here. Expect Thomas to play a role in the new Aspen School of Composers.

Who: Founder and president/CEO of Jazz Aspen SnowmassWhat he’s doing: Jazz Aspen’s summer activities include the June Festival on June 22 through 24, the JAS Caf series at The Little Nell, and the Labor Day Festival from Aug. 31 through Sept. 3What’s up: Last fall, financial pressure squeezed out two of Jazz Aspen’s longtime key players, Executive Vice President Marc Breslin and Executive Director Joe Lang. Horowitz vowed that the organization would still go after A-list talent, and so far, so good. This year’s Labor Day lineup, with Kid Rock, Mumford & Sons and Sugarland, is bound to pull in a huge audience. But how smoothly will the stripped-down Jazz Aspen handle the crowds? Horowitz and his staff have their work cut out for them.

Who: Actress, puppeteerWhere to see her: Theater Aspen’s “Avenue Q,” opening June 27What’s Up: Theatre Aspen seeks to continue its run of smart productions with a staging of “Avenue Q,” the naughty, Tony-winning puppet musical. Kavanagh, in her local debut, seems to be a key here. The talented actress plays two of the characters, Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut, who define the show’s mix of comedy and satire.

Who: Author of the novel “The Art of Fielding”Where to find him: Aug. 13 at the Doerr-Hosier Center in an Aspen Writers’ Foundation eventWhat’s up: Over this past year, the 30-something Harbach became a literary celeb thanks to “The Art of Fielding,” a widely embraced first novel of baseball, college life and American life. Now Harbach can demonstrate if he has the in-person skills that seem to be almost required of writers these days – and more importantly, readers will be eagerly anticipating his next piece of fiction.

Who: Cellist of the Emerson String QuartetWhere to hear him: Finckel plays a recital with his wife, pianist Wu Han, on July 3 and performs as a member of the Emerson on July 12. Both concerts are at Harris Hall.What’s up: Last year Finckel announced that he was leaving the Emerson String Quartet following the 2012-13 season, bringing to an end a membership that had been in place for 33 years. With Finckel, the extraordinarily ambitious Emerson made its mark on Aspen; it has been in residence here for decades and recorded its masterful, Grammy-winning album of the complete Shostakovich quartets over six years in Harris Hall. Finckel makes his final Aspen appearance with the quartet with a monster program – Shostakovich, Mozart and Thomas Ads – before handing over the cello spot to his successor, Paul Watkins. Expect more than polite applause. And hope that Finckel will keep Aspen on his map for duo performances with Wu Han.

What: World leader in physics discussionsWhere to find them: Programs through the summer at the Aspen Center for Physics campus, at 700 W. Gillespie St., and other venuesWhat’s up: The Center for Physics, one of Aspen’s lesser-known but more unique and impactful organizations, celebrates its 50th anniversary by stepping out more than ever into the public realm. The Aspen Music Festival boosts the birthday with a July 24 concert featuring violinists Gil Shaham and Stefan Jackiw and pianist Orli Shaham (all offspring of physicists). There is an all-invited bash on Aug. 11 at the Center for Physics campus, plus a long lineup of lectures on string theory, superconductivity and the science of music.

Who: Multi-instrumentalist and singerWhere to hear her: July 26, PAC3, CarbondaleWhat’s Up: A Texas native, 21-year-old Jarosz has had much of her musical upbringing in Colorado, at festivals like Rockygrass and Telluride Bluegrass. Her latest album, “Follow Me Down,” is a piece of newgrass excellence, featuring Bla Fleck, Jerry Douglas and Punch Brothers. She finally makes her Roaring Fork Valley debut.

Who: Executive chef, Chefs ClubWhere to find him: Chefs Club restaurant, St. Regis AspenWhat’s Up: While the Chefs Club, the new restaurant by Food & Wine magazine, features a rotation of star chefs, Riordan is the on-site guy in the kitchen who will have to make it all work smoothly. In addition, Riordan, who took the job on just a few weeks’ notice, contributes his share of the menu items.

Who: Family of classical musiciansWhere to hear them: The Weilerstein Family Recital on Aug. 1, at Harris Hall and the Aspen Festival Orchestra concert on Aug. 5 at the Benedict Music TentWhat’s Up: The Weilerstein family – father Donald, a violinist; mother Vivian, a pianist; daughter Alisa, a cellist; and son Joshua, a violinist and conductor – gather in Aspen to make music. The parents, both former Aspen Music Festival faculty members, haven’t played here in several years, while the second-gen Weilersteins are becoming increasingly noteworthy here and everywhere. Alisa won a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant last year; Joshua is an assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic and last summer was the assistant conductor for the Aspen Music Festival. Alisa and Joshua join the Aspen Festival Orchestra for Dvork’s Cello Concerto in B minor and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5; the Family Recital features a program of Kodly, Brahms and Jancek/Stephen Coxe.

Who: ChoreographerWhere to see his work: July 6 and 7 with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and July 20 and 21 with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, both at the Aspen District TheatreWhat’s Up: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has shown a knack for landing choreographers on their way up. Madrid, Spain-bred Cerrudo looks like the next one, and Aspen audiences will have two chances to witness his work this summer. Hubbard Street will perform his “Little Mortal Jump,” while Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has commissioned an untitled work by him that will have its world premiere

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