Aspen Music Festival And School


April 7th 21
VP for Marketing and Communications 970 205 5070  
Kristin Cleveland
Publications and PR Coordinator 970 205 5073

APRIL 8, 2021





In-person festival runs 52 days with nearly 150 events: July 1–Aug. 22

270 students join 101 artist-faculty members for learning through private study and performance


Music Director Robert Spano leads the return to live music in summer 2021, once again mentoring young conductors through the Aspen Conducting Academy and conducting orchestral performances on July 3, 16, Aug. 1 and 22.

Rigorous safety protocols and modifications ensure the safety of all participants. See “Safety Plan” and “Concert Protocols” on AMFS website for details.

The 2021 season features many musical works that were to have been featured during the 2020 season, which was cancelled. These illuminate dual themes. “Beethoven’s Revolution” celebrates the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, and “Uncommon Women of Note,” explores ambition, desire and identity through the presence of a much-needed female lens.

Also featured throughout the summer are works by composers identifying as AMELIA (Africa-American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous, and Asian) such as William Dawson, Gabriela Lena Frank and Hannah Kendall. This is the result of three years of active research in this area and will bring to the Aspen stage several debuts this summer with more to come each year in the future.

Renée Fleming and Patrick Summers will inaugurate the new Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS (AOTVA) program of which they are co-artistic directors. The program is uniquely designed for holistic training encompassing everything from staged performances and vocal technique to career development, donor relationships and financial planning for the self-employed. Abridged concert productions—presented this year in the Benedict Music Tent—will be Mozart’s The Magic Flute (July 17) and Handel’s Rodelinda (Aug. 21).

Ms. Fleming also will perform with the Aspen Chamber Symphony, conducted by Spano (July 16), and will coach Opera Theater Master Classes on July 3, 10, and 17.

Several guest artists make their debut on the Benedict Music Tent stage this summer, including jazz and classical piano prodigy Matthew Whitaker, who opens the season with a recital of his own work on July 1; classical singer Julia Bullock, who presents an extraordinarily curated and wide-ranging recital on July 13; and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician award and cellist at the 2018 royal wedding, who joins conductor Christian Arming and the Aspen Chamber Symphony on Aug. 20 for a performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto.

AMFS alumnus Leonard Slatkin returns to conduct the season’s first Aspen Chamber Orchestra concert (July 2), featuring Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, as well as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Julia Perry’s Short Piece for Orchestra.

Violinist Pinchas Zukerman returns to Aspen Aug. 17 with cellist Amanda Forsyth and pianist Shai Wosner to perform as The Zukerman Trio. This will be Zukerman’s first regular-season appearance since 2005.

Violinist Stefan Jackiw, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan join conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Aspen Festival Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto on July 8. Jackiw, Weilerstein and Barnatan also present an all-Beethoven program on July 15—a recital that will include Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, op. 13, “Pathétique,” and the “Ghost” Trio.”

Violinist James Ehnes and pianist Andrew Armstrong will pick up where they left off during last summer’s Virtual Festival in a Aug. 11 recital featuring Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas Nos. 2, 7 and 9.
Ehnes also performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on Aug. 15 with the Aspen Festival Orchestra, conducted by Jane Glover, who returns to Aspen as a dame after being honored for her services to music by Queen Elizabeth II at her 2021 New Year’s Honours.

The season closes Aug. 22 with music director Robert Spano conducting the Aspen Festival Orchestra in a performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 featuring violinist Augustin Hadelich, and
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.


Artist Isa Catto Shaw created the artwork for the season, an original watercolor inspired directly by the notes of the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

New in 2021 are free mobile concerts presented throughout the Roaring Fork Valley July 27 to Aug. 15. AMFS music students will perform in a venue-on-wheels called The Concert Truck.


ASPEN, COLORADO—The Aspen Music Festival and School’s 72nd season in summer 2021 celebrates coming together around music once again after a cancellation of all in-person activities last summer due to the global pandemic. With some modifications and rigorous safety protocols, the festival resumes teaching the brightest young talents from around the world, and presenting the summer’s widest and deepest concert schedule. The program combines some of the best-known works from the repertoire with ones less-often heard, along with a brilliant curation of works by living composers. The summer taken together as a whole offers a breadth of musical genius available nowhere else.

The schedule comprises three orchestral concerts a week, three evening recitals a week, two concert operas, free student recitals, free panel discussions, events for kids, and more. Most events will take place in the open-air Benedict Music Tent, with distanced seating both inside and on the Karetsky Music Lawn in pods.

This season, the Festival again offers the two themes originally scheduled for 2020: “Beethoven’s Revolution” includes a deep dive into Beethoven with some of the world’s foremost interpreters, while a parallel theme, “Uncommon Women of Note,” presents a powerful coming together of music and musical luminaries that looks at ambition, desire and identity through the presence of a much-needed female lens. In addition, the Festival will feature works by composers identifying as AMELIA (Africa-American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous, and Asian) including Lei Liang; Jessie Montgomery, and Roberto Sierra, among others. And after a year-long delay, Renée Fleming and Patrick Summers launch their unique new opera program.

To celebrate that 2020 marked the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, a great number of his works are programmed, including symphonies numbers 4, 5, 6 and 8; piano concertos number 1, 3 and 5; his violin concerto; piano sonatas; violin sonatas; cellos sonatas string quartets, the “Diabelli” Variations and more.

Works by women composers are programmed throughout the summer, including Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks (July 16), Libby Larsen’s Jazz Variations (July 17), Galina Ustvolskaya’s Piano Sonata No. 4 (July 20), Gabriela Lena Frank’s Concertino Cusqueño (July 25) and Clarice Assad’s Sin Fronteras (Aug. 6).

AMELIA (African-American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous, and Asian) composers featured on the 2021 program are inti figgis-vizueta, Julia Perry, Joseph Bologne, Olly Wilson, Hannah Kendall, Lei Liang, Michael Abels, William Dawson, Eleanor Alberga, Gabriella Lena Frank, Du Yun, Tebogo Monnakgotla, Clarice Assad, Jessie Montgomery, Roberto Sierra and George Lewis. A complete list of works can be found at the end.



Inaugurating Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS

Originally planned for 2020, this summer sees the inauguration of the Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS program with soprano Renée Fleming, an Aspen alumna from 1982 and 1983, and Patrick Summers, artistic and music director of the Houston Grand Opera.

Fleming and Summers designed and will co-direct this unique program, which will include not only vocal training but also vocational advice, deep knowledge about the music business, audition coaching, networking and even financial planning. Auditions have been ongoing across the United States since 2019 to select students, and of those who qualified, Fleming has personally hand-picked those who will arrive as Renée Fleming Artists—with whom she will work closely and on an individual basis, giving advice on every aspect of a singer’s career.

The program has been built on the previous platform of the Aspen Opera Center, led for more than 30 years by Edward Berkeley, who taught Fleming herself as a student and who continues on as stage director. It also includes on its faculty opera luminaries individually selected by Fleming and Summers among a world-class team, including well known opera pedagogue and professional opera coach Miah Im, who was appointed in 2020 as the AOTVA’s head coach. This year, classical singer Julia Bullock and tenor Lawrence Brownlee also will join as guest artist-faculty members alongside familiar faces Stephen King and Kenneth Merrill.

In addition to its popular Saturday Opera Theater Master Classes (now coached variously by Fleming, Summers, Berkeley and others), AOTVA will present two abridged concert productions in the open-air Benedict Music Tent: Mozart’s The Magic Flute (July 17) conducted by Summers and directed by Berkeley (July 16, 18 and 20); and Handel’s Rodelinda (Aug. 21) conducted by Miah Im and directed by Omer Ben Seadia.


Established and Emerging Voices

During normal summers, nearly 900 musicians gather in Aspen with as many as 690 of the world’s best music students from all over the world and join to make music with more than 200 top professional performing and teaching classical artists. In 2021, the AMFS season has been revised in scope and scale with 270 students and 101 faculty. Programs include orchestral, opera, piano, conducting, composition, guitar, brass quintet and string quartet.

Luminous guest artists appearing in 2021 include conductors Leonard Slatkin and James Conlon, both Aspen alumni; violinists Gil Shaham (Aspen alumnus), Stefan Jackiw (Aspen alumnus), Augustin Hadelich, Robert McDuffie (alumnus); pianists Behzod Abduraimov, Inon Barnatan, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk (Aspen alumnus), Daniil Trifonov, Vladimir Feltsman, Andreas Haefliger, Joyce Yang (Aspen alumna); cellist Alisa Weilerstein; singers Renée Fleming and Golda Schultz, both Aspen alumna and The Zukerman Trio.

Musicians making their guest artist debuts in Aspen this summer include alumnus Tenkgu Irfan (July 23), alumnus and 2019 Tchaikovsky International Cello Competition winner Zlatomir Fung (July 26), as well as pianist Matthew Whitaker (July 1), classical singer Julia Bullock (July 13) and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Aug. 20).

Aspen Conducting Academy alumni Roderick Cox, Benjamin Manis and 2018 Solti Award winner and alumna Gemma New also return to Aspen for the first time since they were students. New takes the podium to conduct the Aspen Chamber Symphony in a program featuring yet another Aspen Conducting Academy alumnus—Tengku Irfan—as piano soloist in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G (July 23), Manis conducts the ACS in a program featuring soprano Golda Schultz (Aug. 6), while Cox conducts an Aspen Chamber Symphony performance Aug. 13 featuring pianist Joyce Yang performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1.


Diversity in Programming

AMELIA (African-American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Indigenous, and Asian) composers featured on the 2021 program are inti figgis-vizueta, Julia Perry, Joseph Bologne, Olly Wilson, Hannah Kendall, Lei Liang, Michael Abels, William Dawson, Eleanor Alberga, Gabriella Lena Frank, Du Yun, Tebogo Monnakgotla, Clarice Assad, Jessie Montgomery, Roberto Sierra, George Lewis.

The works programed are:

On Friday—Aspen Chamber Symphony Programs

PERRY: A Short Piece for Small Orchestra, July 2

BOLOGNE: Overture to L’amant anonyme, op. 11 no. 2, July 9

MICHAEL ABELS: Delights and Dances, July 16

CLARICE ASSAD: Sin Fronteras, August 6


On Sunday—Aspen Festival Orchestra Programs

HANNAH KENDALL: The Spark Catchers, July 11

DAWSON: Negro Folk Symphony, July 18

GABRIELA LENA FRANK: Concertino Cusqueño, July 25

JESSIE MONTGOMERY: Coincident Dances, August 8


Performed by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble on Spotlight Recitals

INTI FIGGIS-VIZUETA: Openwork, knotted object, July 1

WILSON: A City Called Heaven, July 8

LEI LIANG: Aural Hypothesis, July 15

ELEANOR ALBERGA: on a bat’s back I do fly, July 22

DU YUN: Oksoko, July 29


ROBERTO SIERRA: Cancionero Sefardí, Chamber Music, August 14

GEORGE LEWIS: Mnemosis, Chamber Music, August 21


On Recital Programs

TEBOGO MONNAKGOTLA: Timecraft, Marina Piccinini, July 7

PRICE: String Quartet No. 1 in G major, Pacfica Quartet, July 8

TIMOTHY ADAMS JR.: Ode to Breonna, Percussion Ensemble, July 11

AYANNA WOODS: Triple Point, Percussion Ensemble, July 11

EVAN WILLIAMS: Lux Aeterna, American Brass Quintet, July 21

WALKER: Music for Brass (Sacred and Profane), American Brass Quintet, July 21

PRICE: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Escher Quartet, July 22

OCTAVIO VAZQUEZ: Piano Quintet (World Premiere), American String Quartet, July 28

VILLA-LOBOS: from 12 Etudes, Sharon Isbin, August 5

LEO BROUWER: La Espiral Eterna, Sharon Isbin, August 5

GRENET/LEO BROUWER: Cancíon de Cuna, Sharon Isbin, August 5

LAURO: Vals Venezolano No. 3, “Natalia”, Sharon Isbin, August 5

MONTAÑA: Porro from Suite Colombiana No. 2, Sharon Isbin, August 5

BARRIOS MANGORÉ: La catedral, Sharon Isbin, August 5

BARRIOS MANGORÉ: Julia Florida, Sharon Isbin, August 5

BARRIOS MANGORÉ: Vals, op. 8, no. 3, Sharon Isbin, August 5

BARRIOS MANGORÉ: Vals, op. 8, no. 3, Sharon Isbin, August 5

PERKINSON: Blue/s Forms, Augustin Hadelich, August 18

PERKINSON: Louisiana Blues Strut: A Cakewalk, Augustin Hadelich, August 18

COLERIDGE-TAYLOR: They Will Not Lend Me a Child from 24 Negro Melodies, op. 59, Jeremy Denk, August 19

WIGGINS: The Battle of Manassas, Jeremy Denk, August 19

CHAUVIN, JOPLIN: Heliotrope Bouquet, Jeremy Denk, August 19


On Monday—Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra Programs

BOLOGNE: Violin Concerto in G major, op. 8, no. 9, Gallia Kastner violin, July 5


On Saturday—Chamber Music Programs

BAKER: Sonata for Cello and Piano, Chamber Music, July 10

ARTURO MÁRQUEZ: Zarabandeo, Chamber Music, July 10

COLERIDGE-TAYLOR: Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp minor, op. 10, Chamber Music July 17

GRANT STILL: Suite for Violin and Piano, Chamber Music, August 14

GABRIELA LENA FRANK: Tres Homenajes: Compadrazgo, Chamber Music, August 14

MIGUEL DEL ÁGUILA: Wind Quintet No. 2, Chamber Music, August 21




All safety protocols have been in development for months by a team of AMFS staff from multiple departments, and will be finalized and maintained in consultation with Pitkin County public health officials and with input from independent specialists in the fields of aerosols and classical music teaching and performance. An independent aerosols specialist was engaged to analyze each AMFS performance space to determine maximum use by capacity, type of use, and time. Every event will be planned with adherence to this guidance.

The team monitors guidance and plans are modified sometimes as often as daily to maximize safety while also allowing for the most intensive learning environment possible and daily performances for the most music lovers.

In order to offer the best ticketing plan and safety protocols, tickets will go on sale May 17—much closer to summer than usual. At that time, the AMFS will announce its working capacities and ticket and pass protocols. Due to changing public health guidelines, venue capacity and distancing requirements may change after that or throughout the summer. All programs and protocols will be updated on the AMFS website on a daily basis starting April 8.


About the Aspen Music Festival and School

The AMFS is the United States’ premier classical music festival, presenting more than 400 musical events during its eight-week summer season in Aspen. The organization draws top classical musicians from around the world to this Colorado mountain retreat for an unparalleled combination of performances and music education. 

Nearly 700 music students from 43 U.S. states and 33 countries come each summer to play in five orchestras, sing, conduct, compose and study with 200 renowned artist-faculty members. Students represent the field’s best young talent; many have already begun their professional careers, while others are on the cusp.

Renowned alumni include violinists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Cho-Liang Lin, Robert McDuffie, Midori, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Gil Shaham; pianists Ingrid Fliter, Orli Shaham, Conrad Tao, Yuja Wang, Wu Han and Joyce Yang; conductors Marin Alsop, James Conlon, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Trevino and Joshua Weilerstein; composers William Bolcom, Philip Glass, David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, Bright Sheng and Joan Tower; vocalists Jamie Barton, Sasha Cooke, Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw and Tamara Wilson; cellists Lynn Harrell and Alisa Weilerstein; guitarist Sharon Isbin; performer Peter Schickele; and bassist Edgar Meyer.


Aspen Music Festival and School
225 Music School Road, Aspen, CO 81611
970-925-9042 (box office, opens May 17)

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO