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Festival, jazz deserve our applause

The Aspen Music Festival and School deserves a big round of applause for its 2007 summer season, months before the first note has been played.Entering its 58th season, the AMFS is the longest-running and most powerful of the local arts organizations. But in announcing its plans for 2007, the organization showed it doesn’t care to act like Aspen’s 800-pound artistic gorilla; rather, it is displaying an impressive sense of cooperation and willingness to share its territory. It is a demonstration from which everyone, connected with the arts or not, can learn.The AMFS’s 2007 summer is a season full of collaboration. The festival will present programs with nearly all of Aspen’s major arts groups. And these are far from token gestures or sideline performances. The theme for the season is “Blue Notes,” and it involves an exploration of how jazz has influenced classical music. Many of the concerts tied to that theme will be presented in conjunction with Jazz Aspen Snowmass, including such high-octane events as a performance by Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and a recital uniting Christian McBride, the contemporary king of jazz bassists, and Edgar Meyer, classical music’s greatest bassist and a demigod among Aspen audiences.Marsalis, his generation’s de facto spokesperson for jazz, will also be a featured speaker in “An Evening of Words and Music” June 28, co-presented with the Aspen Institute. Anyone interested in race, culture and the American experience should be thrilled at the prospect of hearing Marsalis talk.The days when the Music Festival and Jazz Aspen feuded over dates and sonic interference are only a few years in the past, but they seem long gone. Alan Fletcher, heading into his second season as chief of the AMFS, has brought a fresh outlook, and Jim Horowitz, who founded Jazz Aspen 16 years ago and still leads the organization, is to be commended for his openness.But there’s more to celebrate here than mere communal spirit. The arts themselves, and audiences, should be well-served by the interplay between disciplines and organizations. Imagine the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company dancing to the accompaniment of a live chamber ensemble. Better yet, get your tickets – July 16 at the Benedict Music Tent. Further collaborations – with Aspen Film, the Aspen Art Museum and more – are still to be announced. Such cultural crossovers should make for a dynamic summer on the local arts scene.


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