Music Fest spawns Aspen Ensemble |

Music Fest spawns Aspen Ensemble

Jessica Freeman
Aspen, CO Colorado
The Aspen Ensemble, which consists of Aspen Music Festival and School artist-faculty members, makes its Aspen debut at Harris Concert Hall on Tuesday. (Courtesy AMFS)

ASPEN ” They’ve played all over the world, from Kentucky to Japan, but one place the Aspen Ensemble hasn’t performed is right here in Aspen ” until Tuesday.

The ensemble, consisting of Aspen Music Festival and School artist-faculty members Nadine Asin, flute; David Perry, violin; Victoria Chiang, viola; Michael Mermagen, cello; and Rita Sloan, piano, will play its first concert in the town from which it takes its name.

“We’re very proud of this group, and we feel so tied to Aspen that we named ourselves after it,” Asin said. ” Each of us feels very strongly about our role within the festival and is very proud to be affiliated with it. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to play here.”

The concert, at 8 pm in Harris Concert Hall, will feature Mozart’s Flute Quartet in C major, Martinu’s Madrigal-Sonata, Weber’s Flute Trio in G minor, op. 63, and Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major, op. 26.

The pieces were chosen because of their diverse nature and ability to reflect the unique instrumentation of the group, Sloan explained. ” We hope the audience will enjoy the variety possible with this combination of instruments,” she said. “To have an established group be able to [perform such a range of music] within their own programming is unusual.”

The Aspen Ensemble was formed in 2000, after Asin and Chiang took a walk on the Rio Grande Trail in Aspen and talked about performing more chamber music together during the winter, something Sloan had also expressed an interest in. However, Asin said the initial focus was not on unusual instrumentation, but rather on recruiting top-quality performers.

The group was formed with musicians who have all reached the top of their fields and performed and taught at premier institutions, including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Juilliard School.

“It’s fantastic” a great deal goes unspoken because these players are of the highest caliber, and you instinctively feel their quality of music-making,” Asin said of her ensemble colleagues. “I have the highest regard for each of them. After this amount of time, I know where everyone’s strong suits are, and I feel very fortunate to be playing with these incredible musicians.”

The ensemble performs together year-round, and has traveled to places such as New York, Seattle, Alabama, and Iowa. The group also makes frequent trips to universities, where they have held “mini-residencies” and outreach master classes.

According to Sloan, some of the best perks of performing with the ensemble are the opportunities it presents to work closely with her talented colleagues and spread music from Aspen to all over the world.

“It’s great fun to play with people who are on that level and who are also your friends,” she said. “We certainly hope that by taking the Aspen name wherever we go, we’re extending good wishes and good vibes.”