Summerfest Concerts With Central City Opera And Colorado College Summer Music Festival

Amanda Tipton/Paul Horton
Jeni Houser and Katherine Manley sing with Central City Opera (left), Scott Yoo conducts Colorado College Summer Music Festival Fellows (right)

Find your seat and raise the curtain, CPR Classical’s Summerfest 2020 turns its attention to our state’s legendary summer music festivals! Some great opera performed in an historic opera house? Check! Some great chamber music performed by world class musicians? Check!

This week we celebrate two of Colorado’s finest music festivals – Central City Opera and the Colorado College Summer Music Festival.

Central City Opera

Head North off I-70 on Central City Parkway, and you’re soon surrounded by the flashing lights of slot machines in Central City’s historic district. But a quick left turn on Eureka Street and you find yourself in a completely different world. The majestic Central City Opera House anchors this quiet part of town.

Central City Opera House, front view of the building during daytime
Amanda Tipton
The Central City Opera House was built in 1878 and renovated in 1931

“The miners came out of the mine and cut the stone to build the opera house,” says Central City Opera Artistic Director Pat Pearce Jr. “The soul of this place is very unique.”

Dir. Pat Pearce Jr. on Central City Opera

A true community effort, the building of the opera house was financed by the people of Central City. But by 1927, due to mountain town boom and bust cycles, it stood vacant. In the years that followed, Anne Evans and Ida Kruse McFarlane led renovation and reopening efforts and the Central City Opera company began its long tradition of Summertime opera in 1932, opening with famed actress, Lillian Gish.

The Central City Opera Company is the fifth oldest in the country and presents a full summer of performances of three or more operas. The company is known for elevating the careers of up and coming singers. Our Summer of Stars Concert this weekend will include CCO past highlights from Puccini’s “Tosca”, Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Bizet’s “Carmen”.

Colorado College Summer Music Festival

Along the West edge of downtown Colorado Springs, next to Monument Valley Park and Monument Creek, sits the campus of Colorado College. The beautifully modern Packard Hall is home to an annual chamber music festival and student training program filled with outstanding musician faculty from leading orchestras and music schools around the country.

Colorado College
An inspirational view from Packard Hall

Founded in the 1980’s, the festival draws on the college’s history of presenting music in the summer.

 “When I was a student at Colorado College in the early ‘60’s, there was occasionally a string quartet festival,” said co-founder of the festival, Michael Grace. “So I was interested in the idea of reviving this idea of having a real arts center in the summer.”

Michael and Susan Grace on Colorado College Summer Music Festival

Every year, 55 pre-professional musicians are chosen to participate in this three-week intensive program that is very hands-on. “Students in our program get a lot of one-on-one time with our faculty. They can eat lunch with them. They have classes with them. They have private lessons,” explained Music Director Susan Grace. “Every year I sit in the office as students are checking out and everyone says ‘I learned so much at this festival. I learned more here than I’ve learned anywhere else.’ ”

Our Summer of Stars Concert this weekend will include Beethoven's Symphony #5 performed by the CC Summer Festival Orchestra, as well as Charles Gounod's Petite Symphony featuring both professional and student wind players.

Hear great moments from seasons past of Central City Opera and the Colorado College Music Festival this weekend as Karla Walker hosts the Summer of Stars Concert Series, part of CPR Classical's Summerfest. Each weekend features a full concert that airs three times (Fridays @ 12:30 p.m., Saturdays @ 6 p.m. & Sundays @ 4 p.m.).

You can listen to CPR Classical by clicking "Listen Live" on this website. You can also hear CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado, or ask your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical.”