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Current Events

Alex IrvinConductor David Zinman and violinist Gil Shaham reunite at the first Sunday afternoon Aspen Festival Orchestra concert of the season.
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Any doubt that classical music can be downright thrilling was put to rest last summer, when violinist Gil Shaham and conductor Hugh Wolff came together for an appearance with the Aspen Festival Orchestra. Because of a last-minute conductor replacement, the violin piece – Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto – was an emergency substitution, and Shaham, performing the piece for the first time, ripped into it with joy and intensity. There probably won’t be such behind-the-scenes hi-jinx this time, but Shaham’s latest appearance promises the same sort of fireworks. He is featured in the opening Sunday afternoon Aspen Festival Orchestra concert on June 28, this time with Festival music director David Zinman conducting, and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The Music Festival is opening the doors to all local volunteers, as well as holders of the Locals Pass, so expect a breath of fresh energy under the Benedict Tent. Also on the program: Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

A few years back, when the world looked only partly broken, the Aspen Ideas Festival, with its explorations of government, economics, medicine and the environment, seemed like a nice idea. Mid-2009, it feels like a necessary one, as we are confronted daily with the forces that impact our everyday lives. This year, in discussions, films and performances, the Aspen Institute’s gathering looks at the end of the American era; low-cost, high-consciousness architecture; opportunities created by the economic crisis; our food production machine; the U.S. Constitution; the Middle East; and what Shakespeare would have thought of it all. Among the speakers: Justices Stephen Breyer and Sandra Day O’Connor; Human Genome Project leader Eric Lander; comedian Lewis Black; writer and Aspen Institute president Walter Isaacson; and Attorney General Eric Holder. The think tank churns Monday through Saturday, June 29-July 4.

What these times call for is a big, free, funky outdoor concert. Preferably without a drop of rain. The Snowmass Free Concert Series can’t promise a dry evening, but it will serve up groove group Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe to kick off the Thursday night series at 6:15 p.m. on July 2. Saxophonist Denson should be familiar to Snowmass audiences; he was a most welcome guest musician at the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest earlier this month, sitting in with Leftover Salmon. This time, he arrives with a top-notch sextet, led by a three-piece horn section. Also featured in the series: New Orleans singer-percussionist Cyril Neville (July 9); Tex-Mex band the Iguanas (July 16); Texas roots rockers the Band of Heathens (July 23); old-school soul man Ryan Shaw (July 30); and New Orleans jazz man Trombone Shorty (Aug. 6).


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