Aspen Times Weekly: Most Anticipated Arts Events, Summer 2021
The best of what’s to come in art, books, film, music and theater
The Aspen Times Weekly’s “Most Anticipated” list went on hiatus in 2020, like most of the cultural events that normally fill it. But as the abundant choices on this menu make clear, we are back.
MOST ANTICIPATED: BOOKS & IDEAS
‘The Night Watchman’ Community Read
Pitkin County Library, July 27 & Aug. 2
After more than a year mostly apart, we’re all craving community more than ever. The library and Aspen Words’ summer community read invites you to grab your free copy Louise Erdrich’s Pulitzer- and Aspen Words Literary Prize-winning “The Night Watchman” and talk about it with your friends and neighbors and the author. The main events are the Community Book Club Discussion (July 27) and an online video chat with Erdrich (Aug. 2) with more events to be announced.
AND DON’T FORGET: Aspen Ideas Festival (June 27-July 1) … ‘The Night Watchman’ Community Read book club discussion, Pitkin County Library (July 27) … ‘Our Dogs, Ourselves’ author Alexandra Horowitz, Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series (July 28) … Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten, Hurst Lecture Series (July 31) … ‘That’s What She Said’ author Joanne Lipman, McCloskey Speaker Series (Aug. 4) … ‘The Skinny’ by Aspenite Jonathan Wells (published Aug. 17) … ‘The Cape Doctor’ author E.J. Levy, Red Brick (Aug. 17) … ‘The Evening Hero’ author Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Red Brick (Sept. 14) … ‘House of Broken Angels’ author Luis Alberto Urrea, Autumn Words (Sept. 26-Oct. 1) … ‘The Firm’ author John Grisham, Book Ball at the Hotel Jerome (Sept. 28)
MOST ANTICIPATED: CLASSICAL MUSIC
The AMELIA Initiative
Aspen Music Festival and School, July 1-Aug. 22
Among the highlights of this summer-long (and expected to continue in the years to come) series are the Aspen Chamber Symphony performing Julia Perry’s “Short Piece for Small Orchestra” (July 2), Pacifica Quartet and Escher String Quartet playing Florence Price (July 8 & 22), the Aspen Festival Orchestra playing William Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony” (July 18) and Jeremy Denk’s all-AMELIA piano recital (Aug. 19). The festival is emphasizing discovery more than ever, as the 2021 season marks the launch of its initiative to spotlight diverse composers who identify as AMELIA (African-American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous, and Asian). The product of three years of evaluating diversity, equity and inclusion at the festival, this canon-expanding initiative includes AMELIA composers in 75% of the season’s concerts.
AND DON’T FORGET: American Brass Quintet, ‘Reflections: A Tribute to Essential Workers’ (June 27) … Pianist Matthew Whitaker, Benedict Music Tent (July 1) … Aspen Chamber Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony & Julia Perry, Benedict Music Tent (July 2) … Stefan Jackiw, Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan and Aspen Festival Orchestra perform Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto, Benedict Music Tent (July 11) … Vocalist Julia Bullock, Benedict Music Tent (July 13) … Renée Fleming with Aspen Chamber Orchestra, Benedict Music Tent (July 16) … Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Benedict Music Tent (July 17) … Pianist Yefim Bronfman, Benedict Music Tent (July 20) … Music on the Go mobile concert series, various locations (July 27-Aug. 15) … Aspen Contemporary Ensemble performs Du Yun’s “Osoko,” Benedict Music Tent (July 29) … Guitarist Sharon Isbin, Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 5) … James Ehnes and pianist Andrew Armstrong perform Beethoven Violin Sonatas, Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 11) … James Ehnes and Aspen Festival Orchestra perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 15) … The Zukerman Trio, Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 17) … Celllist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Aspen Chamber Orchestra, Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 20) … Handel’s “Rodelinda,” Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 21) and Aspen Festival Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 22).
MOST ANTICIPATED: FILM
‘Fear and Loathing in Aspen,’ in theaters July 23
This might not actually be the most anticipated, but it’s certainly the movie anybody who cares about Aspen is most curious about. This is Bobby Kennedy III’s feature about Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970 campaign for sheriff here, which was also the subject of the locally produced documentary “Freak Power.” Kennedy’s film, starring Jay Bulger as Thompson, had been due for a splashy premiere at SXSW last year until the pandemic canceled the festival entirely. It’s disappeared since then and is now getting a theatrical release with no evident marketing push. So who knows what to expect or if it’ll even play in Aspen, but if you love Dr. Thompson, local politics or Aspen history this is going to be a must-see.
AND DON’T FORGET: Dinner + A Movie Series, Ajax Tavern (Mondays through Sept. 27) … Movies Under the Stars, Snowmass Base Village (June 29-Aug. 3) … ‘Babette’s Feast’ with Simone Leigh, Anderson Ranch Arts Center (July 14) … ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child,’ Anderson Ranch (Aug. 18) … Aspen Filmfest (Sept. 21-26).
MOST ANTICIPATED: POP MUSIC
JAS Labor Day Experience, Sept. 5
The story of Stevie Nicks writing “Landslide” in Aspen in 1973, during a two-week stay here with Lindsey Buckingham, is one of the most told and retold and mythologized of Aspen pop culture stories — a point of pride for the town to have midwifed one of the greatest pop songs ever written. Nicks herself may offer some insight on the story from the stage at the Labor Day Experience in this long-awaited show, first announced in December 2019, delayed a year due to the pandemic and finally, finally, finally actually happening to cap this exuberant post-vaccine 2021 summer of music in Aspen.
AND DON’T FORGET: ‘Wednesday Night Live,’ Contemporary Center at Willits & downtown Basalt (Wednesdays through Aug. 11) … Snowmass Free Concert Series, Fanny Hill (Thursdays through Aug. 26) … The Motet, JAS June Experience (June 25 & 26) … Jon Cleary, George Porter Jr., Dumpstaphunk, JAS June Experience (June 26 & 27) … Eli Young Band, Belly Up Aspen (June 28) … deadmau5, Belly Up (July 1-2) … Big Gigantic, Belly Up (July 3) … Kygo, Belly Up (July 4) … Blues Traveler, Belly Up (July 5) … Goldfish, Belly Up (July 15-16) … Pat Green, Belly Up (July 18) … Etienne Charles, JAS Café Aspen Art Museum (July 25) … LeAnn Rimes, Belly Up (July 24) … Christian McBride & Tip City, JAS Café St. Regis (Aug. 5) … Melissa Etheridge, Belly Up (Aug. 8) … Catherine Russell, JAS Café Aspen Art Museum (Aug. 13) … Black Pumas, Belly Up (Aug. 15) … Pascal Bokar, JAS Café Aspen Art Museum (Aug. 15) … Big Wild, Belly Up (Aug. 18) … Louis the Child, Belly Up (Aug. 22) … Moon Taxi, Belly Up (Aug. 29) … Kings of Leon, JAS Labor Day Experience (Sept. 3) … Sheryl Crow, JAS Labor Day Experience (Sept. 4) … Stevie Nicks, JAS Labor Day Experience (Sept. 5) … Maren Morris, JAS Labor Day Experience (Sept. 5) … Spoon, Belly Up (Sept. 4-5) … North Mississippi Allstars, Belly Up (Sept. 17) … Jamestown Revival, Belly Up (Sept. 18) … Contemporary Center Grand Opening, Willits (Sept 24 & 25) … Shovels & Rope, Belly Up, Oct. 8.
MOST ANTICIPATED: THEATER
Hurst Theatre, Rio Grande Park, June 30-July 22
Postponed from summer 2020, this Theatre Aspen production of “Chicago” is well-timed to the collective mood in Aspen this summer as we’re all ready for a Roaring ‘20s of our own as captured in this Broadway mega-hit musical (minus the murder). It’s a brassy big-tent show with songs that everybody knows and loves, making for a celebratory return of live theater in the park.
AND DON’T FORGET: ‘Give ‘em Hell, Harry!’ Hurst Theatre (July 23-24) … Theatre Aspen Cabaret Series (July 11, Aug. 8, 9 & Aug. 25) … ‘A Briefly Complete History of Aspen 2.0,’ Willoughby Park (July 23) … ‘Rock of Ages,’ Hurst Theatre (July 30-Aug. 22) … A Cabaret Evening: Night and Day, Benedict Music Tent (July 19) … Flynn Creek Circus, Snowmass Base Village (Aug. 20-22) … Solo Flights Festival, Hurst Theatre (Aug. 25-31).
MOST ANTICIPATED: VISUAL ART
Precious Okoyomon, ‘Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty’
Aspen Art Museum, Through September 2022
The opening of this immersive installation was a celebratory community return to the music rooftop. But we’re all going to have to keep going back to truly experience this combination of garden, sculpture and sound by the mold-shattering poet and artist. It’s going to grow and go wild through the season in ways that even the artist cannot predict.
AND DON’T FORGET: ‘Decade By Decade: Aspen Revealed,’ Wheeler/Stallard Museum (through 2022) … Cy Gavin exhibition, Aspen Art Museum (through July 11) … Danielle McKinney and Simphiwe Mbunyuza, Boesky West (through July 25) … Mitchell-Innes & Nash in Aspen (through Aug. 15) … ‘Correspondence’ group show, White Cube (through Sept. 5) … Cerith Wyn Evans ‘Aspen Drift,’ Aspen Art Museum (through Oct. 10) … Koko Bayer, Red Brick Center (through Oct. 28) … George Still ‘Hollywood Camouflage,” Baldwin Gallery (through July 25) … Snowmass Art Festival (June 26-27) … Leah Potts, The Art Base (July 2-30) … Snowmass Artisan Market (July 2-Aug. 27) … Alexis Rockman, Anderson Ranch (July 8) … Guerrilla Girls, Anderson Ranch (July 12 & 13) … Will Cotton, Mark Licar & Austin Eddy, Baldwin Gallery (July 30-Sept. 6) … Intersect Aspen, Aspen Ice Garden (Aug. 1-5) … Anders Johnson and Kristy Odelius ‘Ineffable Green Thing,’ Red Brick Center (Aug. 5-Oct. 28).
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