Summer survey: the hot picks
So what are local arts insiders jazzed about as we head into the summer season? Well, jazz, for one. The Aspen Music Festivals Blue Notes theme, exploring the connections between jazz and classical styles, has people buzzing about the possibilities: Wynton Marsalis conducting? Edgar Meyer, a hero to Aspen Music Festival followers, jamming with fellow bassist Christian McBride, artistic director of Jazz Aspens Summer Session program? Soprano Kathleen Battle singing an all-Gershwin program?The David Grisman Quintets appearance at the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest has peoples attention too. Because hes a mandolinist, Grisman is usually categorized with the bluegrass folks, but his celebrated 30-year-old quintet uses the structure of jazz more than it does bluegrass. The concert also inaugurates Snowmass Villages improved Fanny Hill venue, which received a $200,000 facelift.Local arts presenters, observers and players were asked to make their selections for the local arts season within their fields of expertise. (Self-promoting was off-limits.) Some of them strayed a bit, but you know how those arts types get when you try to pin them down.
Classical musicHarvey Steiman, classical music journalistI love jazz, and I am chuffed by all the opportunities to hear jazz-influenced classical music, the theme for this summers festival. The jazz-tinged dates I am most looking forward to are July 14, July 19 and Aug. 3. The July 14 season benefit is the all-Gershwin program with the glorious voice of Kathleen Battle and the energetic conducting of David Zinman. The concert on July 19 brings together two phenomenal bassists, Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride. My mouth is watering for the Aspen Late meeting of two string quartets, the jazz-savvy Turtle Island and the classical Ying, on Aug. 3.Its killing me that I wont be in Aspen in time for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra when they perform Congo Square (with Ghanian drummer Yacub Addy and his Odadda! percussion ensemble) on June 26. Finally, Ill always show up for a Vladimir Feltsman recital. His performances July 7 with artist faculty, and a solo recital of Schubert and Chopin on Aug. 18 figure to be compelling, infuriating but never boring.Harvey Steiman, editor-at-large of Wine Spectator magazine, has been reviewing the Aspen Music Festival for The Aspen Times since 2003. His reviews continue in The Aspen Times in early July.Heidi Curatolo, violinist and violin teacherThe chamber music concert on June 23. Gottschalk is not heard as often as he should be. Hes an American composer, lived in Louisiana and had a lot of Dixieland influence in his music. He tried to use piano to incorporate the banjo, little bits of rags and Dixieland. Its very upbeat; kids would enjoy the concert. Theres also a Debussy piece with that same kind of influence.The Aspen Chamber Symphony Concert on July 6 has got the Beethoven violin concerto with Gil Shaham, one of my favorite performers. Ive never seen him do Beethoven, mostly Dvork and Bach. So Id like to see this live. And David Zinman is conducting, so thats awesome. The first part of the concert is very modern stuff.Mozarts Cos fan tutti (July 10, 12 and 15, Wheeler Opera House). My parents are currently playing it in a production in Brooklyn, on violin and viola. Ive heard its one of the best operas, so Im curious.Ive never seen the pianist Ingrid Flitter (Aug. 9), but I absolutely love the program. It features Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin. Ive played all the pieces. A very melodic program, traditional Romantic time period the old war horses is what they call it. It would inspire me, to see those pieces played well, then go home and relearn them.
Popular musicKimberly Kuliga, marketing and public relations director, Belly Up AspenThe Sierra Refugee All Stars (playing Aug. 9 in the Snowmass Village Free Concert Series). I love them. Knowing how they survived their civil war and how they express themselves through music thats a big interest of mine. Hearing those stories expressed in a musical way, in a spiritual way I love that.Joss Stone (Sept. 1, at Jazz Aspens Labor Day Festival). Being so young, her voice is phenomenal. I like how soulful she is. Shes an old soul. You dont expect to see someone so young when you hear a voice like that.The Monolith Festival (Sept. 14-15, at Red Rocks). Its a big indie rock festival, with Flaming Lips, Kings of Leon (as well as Cake, the Decemberists, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and many more). Outside Belly Up, we dont get much music like that in the valley. And Im a huge indie rock fan. So its unique. Its definitely worth driving to see it.Michael Miracle, managing editor, Sojourner magazineKathleen Battle, doing the Gershwin night (the Aspen Music Festivals Season Benefit, July 14). As I understand, shes the pre-eminent American soprano, and has been for years. I remember reading about her 10 years ago. And that seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Gershwin, in the tent, with her singing.David Grisman Quintet (headlining opening night at Snowmass Villages Chili Pepper & Brew Fest, Friday, June 8). Thats one of those shows thats a perfect combination of artist and venue. Thats quintessentially Colorado those guys, that setting, a local crowd. And given the new improvements at the venue, that context could be even better.Dickey Betts (July 28, Belly Up). Despite the fact that its no longer a gritty, grimy venue, the Belly Up can still accommodate a bourbon-soaked night of Southern rock. Im always good for one of those. And Ive heard his last show was considered one of the best at the Belly Up. Considering whats gone on there the last two years, thats saying a lot.
FilmLaura Thielen, executive director, Aspen FilmIm very curious about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (in general release July13). Im an enormous Harry Potter fan. This one has a new director to the series, David Yates, who made a great film, The Girl in the Cafe. Hes also in pre-production for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which comes out next summer. This is my most eagerly anticipated tent-pole movie.La Vie en Rose (opening nationally June 8, and showing July 8-9 in the Summerfilms series), which is the Edith Piaf biopic. Im a big fan of Edith Piaf, and she has an amazing and rather tragic life story. The woman who plays her, Marion Cotillard, is getting rave reviews. Fabulous music, incredible life story, and the setting is in Paris during an amazing time.Sicko (June 29) does it need any more explanation than its Michael Moores latest? It deals with a very important issue, which everyone can relate to, health care, which I dont think were taking about enough.And Ratatouille (June 29). I love animation. Im a big Pixar fan even though I didnt like their last one, Cars, too much. But a gourmet rat in Paris how bad can that be? The trailers and Ive seen three have intrigued me.
Visual artsHunter OHanian, president, Anderson Ranch Arts CenterAt the David Floria Gallery is Jody Guralnick (Evidence of Life on Earth, opening Aug. 10). Ive seen Jodys current work in her studio. Its wonderful work, and shes a great local artist. Its beautiful paintings, a lot of birds and nature.Im also looking forward to seeing Laurie Simmons work (Photographs 1998, opening July 27 at the Baldwin Gallery). Shes a photographer, with a lot of narration to her work.On the music side, Im looking forward to Jessye Norman, whos speaking along with Anna Deavere Smith (Words and Music, June 28, co-presented by the Aspen Music Festival and the Aspen Institute). Im not a big opera fan, but Ive followed Jessye Normans career for years. Anna Deavere Smith, I met her in Cambridge, at the Kennedy School of Government. And I loved her work in The West Wing.And the film Moolaad, which will be shown at the Ranch (June 18, co-presented by Aspen Film and the Aspen Writers Foundation). Ive seen one other piece by this director, Ousmane Sembene. Hes Senegalese. Its really fitting that the Writers Foundation and Aspen Film are doing this, given whats going on in Africa right now. Its poignant, and its important to pay attention to these issues.Matthew Thompson, assistant curator, Aspen Art MuseumRobert Storr, speaking at Anderson Ranch (Aug. 6-7). Hes the artistic director of the Venice Biennale this year, and the dean of the Yale School of Art. Hes generally regarded as one of the most important American curators of contemporary art.I like how the Aspen Music Festival is going to present the opera Carmen (July 29 in Wagner Park, a simulcast of the live performance at the Wheeler Opera House). I think thats going to be very cool on the Jumbotron. Its interesting that theyre experimenting with different modes of projecting a very traditional format, opera.The Delia Brown exhibit (Guerrilla Lounging: Aspen, opening June 30) at the Baldwin Gallery. A lot of the work involves images she took in Aspen, and it relates very much to Aspen.
My own top two events feature familiar faces, but in contexts that are uncommon enough to add a huge element of surprise. Bassists Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride have performed frequently in the valley, but who knows what will happen when Meyer whose expertise ranges from classical to bluegrass and McBride a onetime Juilliard student, the top jazz bassist going, and a lover of funk and fusion meet on July 19? Meyers solo bass recital was a highlight of last summer; what happens when you throw McBride in the mix?Homer, Marge, Bart and Squeaky-Voiced Teen move to the big screen July 27. The title The Simpsons Movie doesnt reveal anything, and the creators are tight-lipped, but it appears that Homer aided, possibly, by his pet pig must save the world from a catastrophe of his own making. The pressure is on Matt Groening and company, especially with the bar set so high for TV shows turned into movies (Underdog, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Josie & the Pussycats).Another highlight finds a well-known name in a new place, as the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet makes its first appearance at the Benedict Music Tent, July 16. More significant than the location is the accompaniment; the dancers will be backed by an Aspen Music Festival ensemble led by Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski.Enrique Martnez Celaya is one of the more compelling figures in the art world. The Cuban-born Celaya, an artist, writer and former physics student, will give a lecture at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center on July 11, and will receive Anderson Ranchs National Artist Award on July 12 at the Snowmass Club. He will also have a show, another show for the leopard, opening at the Baldwin Gallery on June 30.Old Snowmass resident Lynn Goldsmith is known best for her rock n roll photographs. But viewers will be stunned by the self-portraits from her Looking Glass series, opening in early August at (212) Gallery.On the pop-music front, the summer starts and ends on high notes. The outdoor concert season begins Friday, June 8, when two of the great acoustic acts ever the David Grisman Quintet and the Del McCoury Band team up for opening day of Snowmass Villages Chili Pepper and Brew Fest. The summer concludes with a bang, as Jazz Aspens Labor Day Festival (Aug. 31-Sept. 3) features the Allman Brothers Band, and two offshoots of the legendary Southern band: Govt Mule, led by Warren Haynes; and the Soul Stew Revival, led by fellow Allmans guitarist Derek Trucks.In between those bookends is a sweet three-day run at Belly Up: alt-country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams (July 12), Canadian low-key rockers Cowboy Junkies (July 13), and former Phish keyboardist Page McConnell, fresh off the release of his self-titled, solo debut (July 14).And for little-known names who should have people buzzing, check out two seasoned soul singers: Bettye Lavette (July 26, in the Snowmass Free Concert Series), and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (Aug. 2, Belly Up).Stewart Oksenhorns e-mail address is email@example.com
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