Wind Water Earth & Fire: Concert will touch on nature, Judaism |

Wind Water Earth & Fire: Concert will touch on nature, Judaism

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Courtesy photo

If you GO ...

What: Wind Water Earth & Fire

When: 5 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Aspen District Theater

Tickets: or 970-925-8245

As Aspen Jewish Congregation’s cantor, Rollin Simmons views nature as a conduit to religion not only for her, but congregation members as well.

“I think a lot of people associate organized religion as being in a building, and it’s a turn-off,” she said. “And so much of our Jewish story happened outdoors, and here in this valley and the Aspen Jewish Congregation, we make a lot of efforts to be Jewish outside and connect to the outdoors.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 2., Rollins and other artists will aim for the spiritual merger of nature, religion and music in “Wind Water Earth & Fire,” the sixth annual concert that benefits the congregation. The concert begins at 5 p.m. and will be held at Aspen District Theater at the high school campus.

“I like the idea of being challenged,” she said. “It’s music that people wouldn’t expect. It’s extremely diverse.”

For sure, the entree of eclectic music includes Hebrew folks songs, works by Beethoven, Richard Cohen, Bob Dylan and the Doobie Brothers, among many others. The concert’s subtitle, “In Harmony With Nature,” brings home the musical mission Simmons is championing.

The concert is a collaborative effort that will feature Simmons, who also plays the flute, Cantor Joshua Breitzer, singer-songwriter and guitarist Noah Aronson, mandolin, violin and guitar player Elana Arian, clarinetist Ivan Barenboim, pianist/conductor Joyce Rosenzweig, Cantor Richard Cohn, director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Zoe Jacobs, who is the only reform cantor in England.

Other than Rollins and Jacobs, the other artists hail from the New York City area.

“It’s a hugely collaborative process,” Simmons said, “and I think we’ve built both relationships in knowing each other, and musically in the way we work together has really developed over time. Everyone is part of the team and just gets it.”

There’s a bit of risk taking, as the performers get two days to rehearse.

“But because everyone is so talented, we just come together and magic happens,” Simmons said.

Performers arrived this week, while some play be at Shabbat services at 6 p.m. Friday at the Aspen Chapel Sanctuary, 77 Meadowood Drive.

It will be Rollins’ last annual concert, as she and her husband, Rabbi David Segal, and their son, Levi, and daughter, Bea, are moving to Houston next June.

The couple started the annual concert, the biggest fundraiser for the congregation, a year after their arrival here in July 2010.

“I feel like I’ve built something special here over six years,” Simmons said. “I’m really proud of it.”