Take a Look Into Performers’ Hearts, Minds, and Craft This Summer

June 16, 2020

by Peter Oundjian | Music Director

I’m excited to give you some details about our virtual Festival this summer, but before I do I’d like to speak on the changes we are making to take action following our recent message of support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

We recognize that black, Hispanic, indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized communities are grossly underrepresented in classical music. I am committed to doing everything in my power to make this Festival an instrumental platform for changing that, starting with this summer’s virtual program. Read my full statement here >

Something about this virtual festival is even more intimate than an in-person performance. When you come to a venue and sit in the audience, you can’t see the artist’s face up close, or capture their brilliant technique in action the way a camera can. This summer’s festival is designed to satisfy your craving for great live music, but it’s also designed to give you a closer look into the performers’ hearts, minds, and craft.

Every Thursday night from June 25 to July 30, we’ll be broadcasting a performance of great music that will encompass the scheduled programming we had initially planned for that week. We’ll be releasing six Thursday concerts in total, culminating in a special closing gala concert on  Sunday, August 1st.

I’ll be presenting all of these performances from my home in Connecticut, and will do my best to keep you entertained! We’ll do what we can to pave the way for these special and unique virtual performances. Each concert will begin with a performance by members of our Colorado Music Festival Orchestra.

Here’s a little rundown of this summer’s quarantine-friendly festival:

Opening night will feature our beloved Takács Quartet who will be giving their debut performance with their brand new violist Richard O’Neill with works by Schubert, Bartók. and Beethoven, and the andante cantable by 20th century American composer Florence Price.

July 2nd will include performances by world-renowned guitarist Sharon Isbin, phenomenal marimba player Ji Su Jung, and the sensational brass section from our Festival Orchestra.

On July 9th, we’ll have the pleasure of welcoming Augustin Hadelich, one of the greatest violinists of all time, to perform from my home. Hadelich will play a selection of his all-time favorites from Bach, Beethoven, Ysaye, and Tárrega, and talk about his life as one of the most sought-after violinists of our time. He and I will also have conversations about his development, technique, and his experiences performing across the globe. If we’re lucky, I might be able to persuade him to play a piece on my piano!

July 16th will be our night to celebrate the 250th birthday of Beethoven with a fascinating look at some of the greatest music he ever wrote. The phenomenal young Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, who was scheduled to perform all five of Beethoven’s piano concerti with us this summer, will instead present an evening of Beethoven’s extraordinary cadenzas. Jan will also provide his own commentary, and explain the relationship between the concerto movements themselves and the improvisatory nature of these written-out cadenzas. 

July 23rd will feature the electrifying string quartet Brooklyn Rider, who have always taken a unique approach to programming and presentation. I consider them to be trailblazers who are on the cutting edge of the contemporary concert experience — certainly optimal guests for a sharp turn into the world of virtual performances!

Their program will include works by all living composers: one piece each by Gabriela Lena Frank and Reena Esmail, both of which are inspired by the concept of healing, and a recent work written during the pandemic by Syrian clarinetist/composer Kinan Azmeh. We’ll hear thoughts from each of these brilliant composers before their piece is performed.

July 30th, our closing concert, will feature special performances by the wonderful Ivalas Quartet, the Naughton Sisters, and various members of our Festival Orchestra. Twin pianists Michelle and Christina Naughton are a truly extraordinary duo. Both magnificent pianists in their own right, they play, think and feel as one. It is a wonder to behold. They will perform several of their favorites for us including music by Mozart, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff.

The Ivalas Quartet, Colorado Music Festival Fellows and the current graduate quartet at CU Boulder, is comprised of members from both the black and Hispanic communities. They are a living testament to the power of diversity in all art forms, and they are a force of energy to behold — a perfect group to be featured in our final concert.

On August 1st, we’ll host a virtual gala, broadcast live from Chautauqua Auditorium. It will feature exciting performances and a few surprises from this summer’s cast of performers. A closing ceremony on the cutting edge!

Great challenges lead to stimulating ideas, and putting this festival together has been a tremendously unique and engaging experience. We hope it will fill the festival-sized holes in your hearts, and we think it will also give you a type of musical intimacy that we couldn’t provide at the Chautauqua Auditorium. It will be very much in line with these unusual times, but in the best way we can think of: up-close, personal, and from the comfort of your home.

All virtual performances will be published at the date and time noted and available on demand for for a period of time. We are pleased to present these performances for free as a sign of gratitude to donors, subscribers, ticket buyers, and the community. Register for the virtual Festival and you’ll receive all of these great performances.

All the best,

Peter Oundjian
Music Director

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