Eight years ago, local actress Peggy Mundinger was dragged by her mother to see an Arizona production of “Parallel Lives.” Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy’s two-woman show had been an off-off-Broadway hit in the ’80s, and it was enough of a hit with Mundinger that she promptly purchased a script and vowed she would appear in “Parallel Lives.” After no one came forward with an offer to cast her in the show, Mundinger finally took matters into her own hands. She enlisted all-local talent – including fellow actress Wendy Perkins and director Brad Moore – to join her in bringing the production to life. “Parallel Lives,” a series of comedic sketches about the big-picture issues of sex, gender relations, religion and ethnicity, opens Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Black Box Theater in Aspen High School.
All those Motown hits didn’t happen solely on the strength of singers like Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. Backing the great Motown icons was a group of ace Detroit musicians who collectively came to be known as the Funk Brothers. A small few of the instrumentalists, like bassist James Jamerson, earned some measure of acclaim for their largely uncredited contributions. But most of the players, jazz musicians who didn’t break a sweat playing the relatively simple Motown grooves, were anonymous. That changed with the popular 2002 film “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” a documentary that told the story of the Funk Brothers and included recent concert footage of the band. With the collective name now recognizable, the Funk Brothers have hit the road. They headline the Massive Music & Movies in Snowmass Village on Saturday, Aug. 27; the performance, naturally, is followed by a screening of the film.
The Aspen Music Festival closes its season with a profound statement from its summer-long theme of musical Self-Portraits. James Conlon conducts the Aspen Festival Orchestra Sunday, Aug. 21, in a performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, a work written as the ailing composer faced his end. The opening movement features the ominous sound of bells tolling; the final movement is unusually stormy; and the symphony closes with “a dissipation into the ether, rather than a formal ending,” in the words of Music Festival artistic administrator Asadour Santourian. “The work,” continued Santourian, “is not death and transfiguration, but resignation and acceptance of his fate.” Beyond what the audience hears, there is Mahler’s score, filled with personal language indicating the emotions behind the notes. The work could not be in better hands; Maestro Conlon has some 250 performances of Mahler symphonies to his credit.
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