Letter: Thanks for the beautiful musical journey
I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to Robert Spano, Alan Fletcher, the sponsors, and the whole Aspen Music Family for an extraordinarily beautiful musical journey this past season. I have lived in Aspen and visited the Music Festival since 1969. Some of you may remember that in the old tent, one had to find a seat where you did not need an umbrella. On the lawn, rain or shine, were always the same 10 or 15 serious music lovers. No caviar, champagne or New York Times in those days. I rode my horse to the tent and was fortunate to hear Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman play bluegrass before the sensitive ear and smile of Dorothy DeLay in her wheelchair at the back of the tent. There were also awesome performances by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Yo-Yo Ma, Victor Borge and so many others.
I was young and living in Aspen, with the festival right in front of my nose, yet there were too many other things to choose from. Now, older and a little wiser, living in Basalt, I gladly endanger my life on that 30-minute drive to see world-class conductors, hear musicians and enjoy outstanding concerts. I forced myself to attend more or less every major performance this season, especially those on weeknights. The Aspen Music School, its teachers, its students and its guest conductors all make the Aspen experience something special and unique in the competitive world of classical music, and the school is probably the main reason the alumni are loyal and continue to fit us into their busy schedules. But it is also the genius of Asadour Santourian — his programming, selecting and bringing to Aspen an array of extraordinary, internationally renowned soloists — and also the young, the gifted, the creative musicians with their unbridled enthusiasm for their instruments, young thoroughbreds ready to be wild! This makes the Aspen festival what it is and what others try to copy.
David Foster, a world-class conductor and past Aspen Music Festival and School music director, once told me, drenched by the emotion and physical effort of conducting the Sunday Festival Orchestra, that he felt like he just drove a Ferrari at high speed on the “corniche” in the south of France. Even our audience is different from the usual polite clapping in Salzburg or Schleswig-Holstein — yelling and whistling is allowed and encouraged.
It took me 46 years and an awful drive to see that Friday and Sunday are like fireworks by Andre Heller or, as somebody once told me, the “big bang.” But the icing on the cake is often on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. This season, we were blessed with recitals at Harris Hall by a spectrum of musicians, from those of the highest caliber to the young men and women, blessed with talent and virtuosity from all over the world, playing a mix of modern and old favorites. These young musicians especially taught me that even though the concert audience is aging, the world of classical music is alive and prospering.
Well done, Robert Spano, Alan Fletcher, Asadour Santourian, the faculty and teaching staff, the sponsors and the students of the Aspen Music School. We and Aspen should all be grateful and should continue to support the Aspen Music Festival and School in all ways possible!