Aspen Music Festival And School

Robert Spano, Music Director
Alan Fletcher, President and CEO

About the Season

June 26–August 17, 2014

From the Byronic flourishes of Schumann and Tchaikovsky’s lovers-gone-wrong, to the dark beauty of Thomas Adès and Nico Muhly, composers have always held strong views on Romanticism in music. Whether that be the novelistic sweep of Romantic ideas in the nineteenth century’s great composers, or the utter rejection of Romanticism by Pierre Boulez, Stockhausen and their contemporaries, engaging with it as an idea seems to be an addiction.

The Aspen Music Festival and School’s 65th anniversary season, entitled “The New Romantics,” acknowledges the return to Romanticism of many of today’s composers and, in addition, looks at the full complement of compositions through that lens of Romanticism. To be a Romantic, or not, or even a Romantic in one work and not in others, that is a choice. It makes a statement and invites audiences to react to it—so that from our own reactions to our music-makers, we also learn something about our own world view. The music chronicles our own philosophy.

The 2014 festival presents the span of Romanticism with some fascinating juxtapositions of works. So Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, a quintessential Romantic operatic masterpiece, is presented alongside Lowell Liebermann’s operatic version of another classic tale, this time a romance warped into something horrific, The Picture of Dorian Gray (recently named by the New York Times as one of the contemporary operas most likely to last).

Other composers featured in the festival whose works are often viewed as Romantic include John Adams, whose Short Ride in a Fast Machine will be played on August 6, to Brahms, whose First Symphony will be featured in the same concert (conducted by James Feddeck), or from Steven Stucky (an AMFS composer-in-residence) whose Rhapsodies will be conducted by Osmo Vänskä on July 18, to Grieg, whose Piano Concerto in A minor will be played in that concert by Aspen alumna Joyce Yang. Or indeed from Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos—to be conducted by Leonard Slatkin (also an Aspen alumnus) on August 3—to, again in the same concert, Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony.

Then there are works, like Philip Glass’ (Aspen alumnus) violin concerto The American Four Seasons which, though Glass is hardly known as a Romantic composer, borrow the dark, moody hues of Romanticism for an excursion through those feelings. There are those, like Skryabin (The Poem of Ecstasy, August 10) for whom Romanticism was a kind of tortured quest, and others like Schnittke (Sonata No. 1 for Violin, Strings and Harpsichord, July 11, conducted by Nicholas McGegan, Daniel Hope, violin) and Augusta Read Thomas (Cello Concerto No. 3, “Legend of the Phoenix” with cellist Lynn Harrell, July 25, conducted by Christian Arming) for whom it is refracted by the fragmented shards of modernism. And there are the anchors, such as works by Beethoven, arguably the father of musical Romanticism, whose music unsurprisingly appears several times during the season, culminating in his colossal Symphony No. 9 on closing night, August 17, conducted by music director Robert Spano with Jessica Rivera, soprano, mezzo-soprano to be announced, tenor Vinson Cole and Eric Owens, bass-baritone, as soloists.

Other works inspired by the season theme are Bill Frisell’s The Great Flood (July 21); Brett Dean’s Three Memorials (July 20); Christopher Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body (July 13) and Frank Martin’s Der Cornet (July 22), performed by Spano on piano with Monica Groop, mezzo-soprano.

If this season offers audiences a chance to view all kinds of music through the lens of Romanticism, it also invites them to look through the eyes of some of today’s great interpreters. Other season highlights include, variously, Steven Osborne playing the Ravel Piano Concerto, fast-rising conductor Hannu Lintu with Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, Jane Glover conducting Haydn’s Cello Concerto (with Aspen alumna Alisa Weilerstein) on a program with works by Strauss and Beethoven, Aspen alumnus Gil Shaham’s return with Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto and Simon Trpceski’s return to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Summer 2014 will also include a wide array of standard orchestral repertoire, including music of Beethoven, Debussy, Dvorak, Berlioz, Janacek, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Schubert, Schumann, Stravinsky, Wagner, Weber, and Tchaikovsky with a major focus on the music of Richard Strauss on the occasion of his 150th anniversary. Another hallmark of the Festival has been a wide variety of lectures and enrichment events, as well as collaborations with organizations such as the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the Aspen Institute, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, the Aspen Art Museum, and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Baroque music has elicited a tremendously positive reaction in recent years, so another evening of Baroque music will once again feature guest artists and artist-faculty, side-by-side with our 2014 students.

In addition to our artist-faculty and our music director Robert Spano, guest artists invited to the 2014 season include:

Joshua Bell violin
Daniel Hope violin
Stefan Jackiw violin
Gil Shaham violin
Sarah Chang violin
Robert McDuffie violin
Midori violin
Augustin Hadelich violin
Inon Barnatan piano
Dejan Lazic piano
Yefim Bronfman piano
Jeremy Denk piano
Simon Trpceski piano
Vladimir Feltsman piano
Wu Han piano
Jeffrey Kahane piano
Garrick Ohlsson piano
Nikolai Lugansky piano
Marc-Andre Hamelin piano
Conrad Tao piano
Joyce Yang piano
Edgar Meyer bass
Lynn Harrell cello
Narek Hakhnazaryan cello
Alisa Weilerstein cello
David Finckel cello
Eric Owens bass-baritone
Nicholas McGegan conductor
James Feddeck conductor
Jeffrey Kahane conductor
Leonard Slatkin conductor
Jane Glover conductor
Jun Markl conductor
Christopher Theofanidis conductor
Thomas Søndergård conductor
Osmo Vänskä conductor
Takacs Quartet
Emerson String Quartet
American String Quartet
American Brass Quintet
Pacifica Quartet

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