Violist plugs in on the mountain | AspenTimes.com

Violist plugs in on the mountain

Susannah Luthi
Special to The Aspen Times

John Graham will bring his electric viola for a performance atop Aspen Mountain on Saturday. Aspen Music Festival and School photo.

Two summers ago, Aspen Music Festival artist/faculty violist John Graham attended a brass concert that was part of the Saturday Music on the Mountain performance series, but as a string player, he feared his volume in the open-air environment might not be sufficient.

“Listening to the horn player, I was wishing I could play,” he says. “I especially wanted to play Bach up there: Then it dawned on me that I could because I had the means with the electric viola.” Graham has played the electric viola for the past four years, and so last summer he performed atop Aspen Mountain for the first time.

“It was thrilling to be playing music outdoors,” he says. “I just had a wonderful time, and thought it was one of the nicest things I’d ever done.”

Free with the price of a gondola ticket (or via strenuous hike), the 1 p.m. Saturday concert program includes Debussy’s Syrinx, an “outdoors” piece originally written for the flute in tribute to the pastoral god Pan, traditional Scottish fiddle tunes, Sojournen by festival artist/faculty member Sydney Hodkinson, and Telemann’s Fantasia IX. And of course the event finishes with Bach’s Solo Suite 1.

Be sure to catch Music in the Mountain while you can: Next summer, the series takes a hiatus for work on the gondola.

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