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Current events

Pianist Yefim Bronfman performs in the Aspen Music Festival and School's Winter Music Artist Recital series at Harris Hall. (Courtesy Aspen Music Festival)

Even among those at the top rank of classical musicians, pianist Yefim Bronfman stands out. In 1991, Bronfman, a native of Tashkent – then part of the Soviet Union, now the capital of Uzbekistan – was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, an honor given only periodically, not annually. This season, Bronfman has an unusual position, as pianist-in-residence with the Berlin Philharmonic, generally acknowledged as the world’s finest orchestra. The job entails performing chamber music concerts with members of the Berlin Phil. One need not know of those accolades to know Bronfman is something special; his concerts are spectacles of powerhouse musicianship. Aspen audiences have become accustomed to both winter and summer appearances, and they get more of the same coming up. Bronfman performs in the Aspen Music Festival’s Winter Music series Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Harris Hall; the program includes Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” and works by Ravel, Chopin and Balakirev. He returns for what should be a highlight of the Music Festival’s summer season: a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, with violinist Gil Shaham, cellist Truls Mørk and conductor David Zinman.

Authors are getting into all sorts of mischief blending fact with fiction these days. Lorraine Adams, however, is getting only positive reinforcement for making stories of headline news. In 2000, then a Washington Post reporter, Adams covered the investigation of the Millennium Plot, in which an Algerian aimed to blow up a Los Angeles airport. Adams spun that real-life story into “Harbor,” a novel of immigration and assimilation centered around Aziz, a young Algerian Muslim who sneaks into the United States. Told from a personal perspective, “Harbor” examines not only the illegal immigrant experience, but also sex, violence and dignity. Adams earned a Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award. She will also make an appearance in the Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s Winter Words series – a rarity for a debut novelist – Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Given Institute. Adams will read from “Harbor,” and also speak about the dilemmas involved in writing, fiction or nonfiction, about terrorism.

There is no better personification of New Orleans than Dr. John, who embodies the exotic, the down-and-out and the celebratory facets of the city. Mac Rebennack – the handle his loving parents gave him – was entrenched in the bar scene of his native New Orleans by his teens, soaking up the music of James Booker, Professor Longhair and other piano icons. Eventually, Mac emerged as Dr. John the Night Tripper, a walking, singing version of the Mardi Gras. And behind the headdress and voodoo shtick, Dr. John’s music – gritty and rollicking, moving from sorrowful jazz to second-line street dance – covers all the moods and sounds of New Orleans. He and his band play the Belly Up Sunday, Feb. 19, a pretty decent way to start marching into Carnival season. (Mardi Gras itself is Feb. 28.)


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