Aspen Music Festival And School


February 4th 15

News Release

FEBRUARY 3, 2015

Laura Smith, Vice President for Marketing and Communications, 970-205-5070,
Janice Szabo, PR Manager, 970-205-5071,


67th season runs eight weeks: July 2 to August 23; comprises more than 300 events performed by 630 young-adult student musicians, 130 artist-faculty, and 75 guest artists

Music Director Robert Spano leads a season themed “Dreams of Travel,” exploring musical works enriched by other cultures

The Aspen Opera Theater Center – a training ground for artists on the cusp of their careers – presents four fully staged productions: Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (7/16, 7/18, 7/20); a double-bill featuring Theofanidis’ The Cows of Apollo or The Invention of Music and Stucky’s The Classical Style (7/30, 8/1) and Mozart’s Così fan tutte (8/18, 8/20, 8/22)

Robert Spano will also conduct Verdi’s mega-masterwork Aida in a semi-staged version in the Benedict Music Tent with professionals singing alongside the bright talents of the Aspen Opera Theater Center and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus (8/7)

Joshua Bell plays with -- and conducts! -- the Aspen Chamber Symphony (8/14)

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin celebrates 25 years of summers in Aspen and joins two other superstar guitarists, Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo, in a program of Latin, Brazilian and jazz music, titled Guitar Passions (8/6)

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra return, presented in association with Jazz Aspen Snowmass (7/6)

Cutting edge pianist Vijay Iyer and his trio come to Aspen for the first time (7/27) International super-star pianist Yundi makes his Aspen debut, (7/7)

Violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner explore the cross-cultural influence of Beethoven in Bridge to Beethoven (7/15)

Pianist Vladimir Feltsman presents – exclusively in Aspen – two recitals of Russian composers almost unknown in the West. They include Roslavets, Mosolov and Protopopov, all of whom were deeply influenced by Scriabin and his mystical approach to music, and Weinberg and Ustvolskaya, whose works will be played alongside their mentor Shostakovich.  (8/12, 8/13)

Composition students gain rare opportunity to study with six highly distinguished composers: Sydney Hodkinson, Shulamit Ran, Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, Christopher Theofanidis and
George Tsontakis

National radio shows Performance Today (7/26) and From the Top (7/12) tape live shows at Harris Concert Hall

Conductors include AMFS Music Director Robert Spano, Joshua Bell, Johannes Debus, Jane Glover, Jeffrey Kahane, Kirill Karabits, Hannu Lintu, George Manahan, Jun Märkl, Nicholas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot, Stephen Mulligan, Rafael Payare, Larry Rachleff, David Robertson, Michael Stern, Patrick Summers, Osmo Vänskä, Joshua Weilerstein and Hugh Wolff

Soloists and ensembles include: pianists Inon Barnatan, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Lise de la Salle, Jeremy Denk, Vladimir Feltsman, Marc-André Hamelin, Steven Hough, Vijay Iyer, Jeffrey Kahane, Vadym Kholodenko, Jan Lisiecki, Nikolai Lugansky, Anton Nel, John O'Conor, Steven Osborne, Orli Shaham, Conrad Tao, Shai Wosner, Wu Han, Joyce Yang and Yundi; violinists Adele Anthony, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Augustin Hadelich, Daniel Hope, Stefan Jackiw, Fabiola Kim, Jennifer Koh, Robert McDuffie, Simone Porter, Gil Shaham and Joseph Swensen; violist Roberto Díaz; guitarists Sharon Isbin, Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo; cellists David Finckel and Alisa Weilerstein; double-bassist Edgar Meyer; vocalists Sasha Cooke, Cecilia Hall, Isabel Leonard, Luis Alejandro Orozco, Susanna Phillips, Issachah Savage, Tamara Wilson; and ensembles the American Brass Quintet, the American String Quartet, the Emerson String Quartet, the Jupiter Quartet, the Pacifica String Quartet and the Takács Quartet

ASPEN, Colo. — The Aspen Music Festival and School today announced its 67th season, running from July 2 to August 23 with more than 300 events and featuring its signature wide variety of musical works, periods, and performers.

The 2015 season theme, “Dreams of Travel,” explores music informed by cultures other than the composer’s own. The theme is reflected in performances of Ligeti’s Romanian Concerto (8/12), inspired by the composer’s childhood memories of folk musicians in his native Transylvania (now Romania); Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite, Scheherazade (7/5), echoing the kaleidoscope of tales which Scheherazade invented to stay alive; AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher’s world premiere work, "On a Winter’s Night a Traveler” which will be accompanied by a film by Bill Morrison (who also did the film portion of The Great Flood) (7/10) and which was inspired by Italo Calvino’s brilliant novel of the same name, a labyrinth of 10 different of premonition, spies, and mystery—each interrupted at a moment of suspense; Spaniard Manuel de Falla’s melancholy memories his homeland in Nights in the Gardens of Spain (7/29) and Verdi’s conjured imaginings of the splendors of ancient Egypt, in Aida (8/7).

“The Aspen Music Festival and School experience is a powerful and unforgettable one.” says President and CEO Alan Fletcher. “Across all constituents—our extraordinary faculty, students, guest artists and devoted audience members—there is an unspoken commitment to giving their all, and then some. ‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ performances can be an everyday occurrence here in Aspen.”

Music Director Robert Spano will again lead the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and also conduct orchestral programs featuring Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Inon Barnatan and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (7/5) and Mahler’s Sixth Symphony (8/23). He will also lead the Aspen Opera Theater Center’s The Cows of Apollo or The Invention of Music and The Classical Style, (7/20, 8/1) by Christopher Theofanidis and the AMFS semi-staged production of Verdi’s Aida featuring major professional opera stars (8/7).

2015 world premieres commissions include:

• Alan Fletcher and Bill Morrison’s On a winter’s night a traveler AMFS commission/world premiere, (7/10)

• Nina Young’s new work, AMFS commission/world premiere, Druckman Prize, (7/15)

• Sebastian Currier’s “Glow” written for pianist Inon Barnatan, AMFS commission/world premiere, (date TBA)

• Sydney Hodkinson’s String Quartet No. 7 written for the Jupiter String Quartet, AMFS commission/world premiere,  (7/25)

• Steven Stucky’s and Jeremy Denk’s comic operetta “The Classical Style,” AMFS co- commission/staged version  premiere, (7/30, 8/1)
• Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto, AMFS co-commission, (8/12)

Many of the singers in Aspen Opera Theater Center (AOTC) productions are just embarking on their professional careers. The program’s influence is reflected in Aspen’s notable alumni, including Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Jamie Barton, Bryan Hymel, Isabel Leonard, Brian Mulligan and Ryan McKinney. This summer the AOTC, directed by Edward Berkeley, will present fully-staged productions of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, (7/16, 7/18, 7/20), conducted by George Manahan; a double-bill featuring Christopher Theofanidis and William Hoffman’s The Cows of Apollo or The Invention of Music along with Steven Stucky’s and Jeremy Denk’s The Classical Style, (7/20, 8/1), conducted by Robert Spano, and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, (8/18, 8/20, 8/22), conducted by Jane Glover.

Robert Spano will conduct Verdi’s Aida in a semi-staged version in the Benedict Music Tent. The cast will include Michelle DeYoung mezzo-soprano, Brian Mulligan baritone, Morris Robinson bass, Tamara Wilson soprano, Issachah Savage tenor, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

The students of the Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies will again advance their skills under the expert hand of the world's foremost composers and performers of contemporary music in 2015. The eight-week intensive program is highlighted by individual study with some of today’s most highly regarded and frequently performed living composers including Sydney Hodkinson, Steven Stucky, George Tsontakis, as well as Aspen’s Alan Fletcher and Robert Spano. Visiting composers include Shulamit Ran, Christopher Rouse and Christopher Theofanidis.

The Festival continues its commitment to community collaborations with a wide variety of lectures and enrichment events with local organizations such as the Aspen Public Radio, the Aspen Institute, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, the Aspen Art Museum, the Basalt Public Library, Aspen Film and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. New this year will be a recital series at the Aspen Art Museum.

Notable Events

A “Russian Experiment” with pianist Vladimir Feltsman, (8/12, 8/13)

Vladimir Feltsman’s two Aspen programs could be called "Russian experiment," or "The roads less travelled." His first recital, "From Mystical to Avant-Garde," presents three great composers that are practically unknown in the West—Roslavets, Mosolov and Protopopov. All three had been influenced by Scriabin and his mystical approach to music and none immigrated to the West but remained in Russia. The second program, "Russian Expressionism: from Shostakovich to Schnittke” includes two lesser- known, but no less important composers—Weinberg and Ustvolskaya, alongside their mentor Shostakovich.

An Aspen First: Joshua Bell Conducts and Performs, (8/14)

Now Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Joshua Bell, an Aspen alumnus, has branched out to conducting but has focused those efforts on engagements in Europe. Now he brings his conducting talent to lead the orchestras he played in when he was a student musician in Aspen. Bell will make his Aspen conducting debut, as well as perform as soloist, with the Aspen Chamber Symphony in a program including Bach’s Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042 and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Bell’s recent release of the Seventh Symphony debuted at number one on the Billboard charts.

A Special Event with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, (7/6)

Acclaimed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, one of America’s most passionate advocates of jazz, leads an orchestra composed of the finest soloists, ensemble players, and arrangers in jazz music today. The evening concert offers a special preconcert dinner on-site. Presented in association with Jazz Aspen Snowmass.

Internationally acclaimed pianist Yundi, (7/7)

One of the “rock stars” of the classical world, especially well-known in Europe, Yundi was propelled onto the international stage when he won first prize at the XIV Chopin International Piano Competition at the
age of 18, becoming the youngest and first Chinese winner in the history of the prestigious competition. Since then, he has been regarded as a leading exponent of Chopin’s music. In 2013, Yundi performed at China’s Spring Festival Gala, which was witnessed by an audience of over one billion.

Bridge to Beethoven with Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner, (7/15)

Bridge to Beethoven explores Beethoven’s impact and significance on a diverse group of composers and musicians. By pairing the master’s ten sonatas for violin and piano with new works, this evening seeks to ignite creative conversations around his music not only as a cornerstone of classical music but as a universal, culture-crossing source of inspiration. The program will feature a new commission from jazz composer Vijay Iyer to be paired with Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata.

A Special Event with the Vijay Iyer Trio, (7/27)

2013 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient and cutting edge pianist Vijay Iyer brings what The New York Times calls “the great new jazz piano trio” to Aspen. The Grammy-nominated composer-pianist has been described by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” Iyer will also join Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner in their Bridge to Beethoven program, (7/15).

Celebrate Sharon Isbin’s twenty-five summers in Aspen with Guitar Passions: A Special Event with Sharon Isbin, Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo, guitars, (8/6)

Renowned classical guitarist Isbin follows up her Grammy-winning album, Journey to the New World, with another extraordinary musical exploration, Sharon Isbin & Friends: Guitar Passions. The journey is focused on Isbin's guitar heroes, with a Latin American flavor on many tracks. Joining Isbin in Aspen are her collaborators on the album, innovative jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan and Brazilian jazz guitarist extraordinaire Romero Lubambo.

Aspen Alumni

Alumni of the Aspen Music School performing on the 2015 season schedule include: Adele Anthony, violin; Joshua Bell, violin; Sarah Chang, violin; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Jeremy Denk, piano; David Finckel, cello; Sharon Isbin, guitar; Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano; Robert McDuffie, violin; Edgar Meyer, bass; Simone Porter, violin; Gil Shaham, violin; Orli Shaham piano; Conrad Tao, piano; Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Joshua Weilerstein conductor; Wu Han, piano; Joyce Yang, piano and ensembles the American Brass Quintet, the American String Quartet, the Emerson String Quartet, the Jupiter Quartet, and the Takács Quartet.

Debut Artists

Performers making their AMFS summer guest-artist debuts are Cecilia Hall, mezzo-soprano*; Vijay Iyer, piano; Stanley Jordan, guitar, piano; Hae-Jeon Lee, piano*; Jan Lisiecki, piano; Romero Lubambo, guitar; Stephen Mulligan, conductor*, Luis Alejandro Orozco, baritone; Rafael Payare, conductor; Issachah Savage, tenor; Tamara Wilson, soprano*, Yundi, piano and Shai Wosner, piano.
(*) indicates AMFS alumni.

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO