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Current Events

Irish-born, New York-based writer Colum McCann is already near the top of the literary world, with such novels as “Dancer” and “Zoli” earning prizes. And he has stretched beyond the page; he helped turn his short story, “Everything In This Country Must,” into an Oscar-nominated short film. McCann is poised to rise even higher in the book realm; “Let the Great World Spin” – which has its world premiere Tuesday, June 23, at the Aspen Writers Foundation’s Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival – is being highly lauded; memoirist Frank McCourt worries that McCann will never be able to top himself. And McCann breaks into another world at Summer Words. He took a chapter of the new book and, with singer-songwriter Joe Hurley, turned it into the tune, “This Is the House That Horse Built.” McCann seems reluctant, but there’s a good shot he’ll help perform the song while he’s here. Aspen Summer Words runs Sunday through Friday, June 21-26.

What is it about spelling bees? That most routine of childhood experiences has made a splash on the big screen (the Oscar-nominated “Spellbound”) and online (that bee-winning kid going wild was one of YouTube’s early hits). And on stage: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” earned two 2005 Tony Awards. The musical comedy, which focuses on six oddball student competitors, and the three equally quirky adults running the Bee, kicks off Theatre Aspen’s season, with previews on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 23-24, and opening night on Thursday, June 25. The show runs through Aug. 20, and each performance includes volunteer spellers from the audience. Directing is Mark Martino, who headed last summer’s exceptional production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The Aspen Music Festival – like almost any classical music festival – is going to look backward in time. This season, the Aspen festival looks back not only hundreds of years, to Bach and Beethoven, but also decades past. Six of them, to be precise, to 1949, the year the event was launched as part of the Goethe Bicentennial. To celebrate, the festival – which opens Thursday, June 25, and runs through Aug. 23 with daily presentations – programs works that were played in Aspen 60 years ago. Among those pieces: Beethoven’s “Egmont” (July 24) and Gounod’s “Faust” ballet (Aug. 19). Capping the theme is another Aug. 19 concert, with singers Jamie Barton and Ryan McKinny, that recreates an entire 1949 event.


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