Those whose musical summer begins and ends with the Emerson String Quartet – surely there are some so devoted to the incomparable combo – must get their fix early. The Emerson opens the Aspen Music Festival Thursday, June 21, with a program of Beethoven and Bartok in the Benedict Music Tent, and follows Saturday, June 23, with a Harris Hall recital featuring Ives, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, and more Beethoven. The material should be razor-sharp: the Emerson recently completed performing all of Beethoven’s quartets over an eight-concert, 18-day stretch at Carnegie Hall. During that run, they managed to squeeze in the world premiere of Saariaho’s “Terra Memoria,” an intense and demanding piece about loss. And their 1990 recordings of the complete Bartok quartets earned a pair of Grammys. Those who miss the Emerson have fresh recordings to hear; the quartet released a CD of Brahms in May. Also, violinist Eugene Drucker makes his debut as a novelist next month, with the worthy “The Savior,” centered around music and the Holocaust.
The chorus is raised this time every year: Jazz Aspen Snowmass has more jazz in its name than on its stages. True, the organization has branched into most every musical genre there is, but jazz is still very much in the mix. The June Festival (Thursday through Sunday, June 21-24 in Rio Grande Park) features vocalist Madeleine Peyroux, whose primary touchstone is Billie Holiday; bassist Marcus Miller, who fuses jazz, funk and pop; and piano legend Herbie Hancock, whose latest Jazz Aspen appearance welcomes guests from singer-guitarists Keb’ Mo’ and Raul Midon to trumpeter Terence Blanchard – and presumably a range of styles. The 18th annual June Festival also includes Steve Winwood, the Black Crowes, Earth, Wind & Fire and more. For more jazz, check out the collaborations between Jazz Aspen and the Aspen Music Festival (with Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride and the Turtle Island String Quartet), and Jazz Aspen’s JASummerNight Mambo (July 21), featuring Latin-jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.
Between the June Festival and the JAS After Dark series, a collaboration between Jazz Aspen and Belly Up coinciding with the festival, nearly the entire world of music is covered. Musicians appearing over the next week on the June Festival stage come from Africa (Angelique Kidjo); South America (Cyro Baptista, a guest of Herbie Hancock’s); and the U.K. (Steve Winwood). Represented at Belly Up are France (Les Nubians, on Friday, June 22); Australia (Xavier Rudd, Saturday, June 23); and Canada (Serena Ryder, opening for Rudd). And virtually the entire expanse of the U.S. is covered, from New York to Georgia to New Orleans to Chicago to Los Angeles.
“West Side Story” debuted on Broadway 50 years ago, and “Romeo and Juliet,” on which it was based, goes back even a little further. But the theme of tribal clashes reaching tragic proportions rings very true today. Director Robert Wise’s 1961 film version was a compelling mix of entertainment and dark tones; with a score by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and choreography by Jerome Robbins, it earned 10 Oscars. The Aspen Music Festival presents a free screening Sunday, June 17, at Paepcke Auditorium. Aspenite Bob Klineman, a film and theater historian, introduces the film and engages the audience in a Q-and-A.
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