Summerfest: Boulder’s Colorado Music Festival Takes Advantage Of Virtual Festival Medium

July 8, 2020
Chautauqua Auditorium, home of Colorado Music Festival since 1978Chautauqua Auditorium, home of Colorado Music Festival since 1978Colorado Music Festival
Chautauqua Auditorium, home of Colorado Music Festival since 1978

This week on CPR Summerfest we shine our spotlight on the Colorado Music Festival.


After only one year at the helm, Colorado Music Festival Music Director Peter Oundjian finds himself facing perhaps the most unique challenge in the festival's history: how to keep the music going amid a global pandemic.

For the safety of both the audience and the orchestra, CMF canceled all in-person concerts. They moved their programming online and are taking advantage of the medium. In between small ensemble and solo performances during the virtual concerts, Oundjian interviews the musicians about their craft and the music.

Peter Oundjian directs the CMF Orchestra in 2019

“Of course it's a terrible disadvantage not to be able to go to concerts,” Oundjian told CPR Classical's morning host, David Ginder. “But the one thing about these virtual festivals is that you do get to know the player in an individual kind of way.”

The 2020 CMF Virtual Festival began June 25 with the Takács Quartet making the most of the acoustics in the empty Chautauqua Auditorium. The performance was the debut of the newest member of the group, violist Richard O'Neill. Here's a clip of their 2020 CMF performance:

Upcoming CMF highlights include Augustin Hadelich on July 9, playing both his violin and the 1900s Bechstein piano in Oundjian's living room, as well as Jan Lisiecki playing and discussing all of the improvised piano cadenzas of Beethoven on July 16.

The festival finale on July 30 takes a unique approach as well. Festival orchestra musicians recorded their parts for the second and fourth movements of Beethoven's Symphony #7 and producer Michael Quam has combined them to create the full piece.

Weekly performances of the 2020 CMF Virtual Festival premiere on Thursdays and are available to watch until Sept. 1, 2020. Register for a free pass to the festival here.

In addition, CMF and Center for Music Arts are holding a virtual Youth Musician Seminar from July 20-24, connecting high school musicians with experts in their field. Registration is still open for this event.

For a list of all the CMF concerts and more visit our Summerfest Virtual Concert Calendar.

Our Summer of Stars Concert on CPR Classical this weekend features the CMF Orchestra playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2 with soloist Natasha Paremski, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with soloist James Ehnes, plus festival recordings of pieces by Mozart, Berlioz, and Rossini.

Karla Walker hosts the Summer of Stars Concert Series: a full concert that airs three times (Fridays @ 12:30 p.m., Saturdays @ 6 p.m. & Sundays @ 4 p.m.) as part of CPR Classical's Summerfest.


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.”