Summerfest: The Colorado Symphony Brings Concerts Back To Red Rocks And The National Repertory Orchestra Brings Star Coaches To Students Online

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Jenny Cvek/Courtesy of National Repertory Orchestra

It’s a summer unlike any other, and here in Colorado we’re missing the sounds of the many festivals and concerts which usually fill the warm evening air. Not to worry, CPR Classical has you covered with our Summerfest concert series! This weekend, we’ll hear from past performances by the National Repertory Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony.

Colorado Symphony

The world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre has been quiet since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Colorado Symphony has just announced a five-night concert series, starting July 29 at Red Rocks. 

The “Acoustic on the Rocks” concerts will feature a string ensemble under the direction of Colorado Symphony’s Resident conductor Christopher Dragon. Only 175 people will be allowed in each night (less than 2% of audience capacity) and the acoustic concert will allow for minimal crew. 

The feel of social distancing will be very different from the packed crowds from past sold out summer classical concerts, but there is lots of interest in these first concerts at Red Rocks since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

The symphony’s plans to play Beethoven’s massive 9th Symphony at the iconic venue this month has been postponed.

Image Courtesy of Colorado Symphony
The Colorado Symphony performs at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison.

The Colorado Symphony, like other music organizations, has turned to virtual concerts with their #PlayOn series, featuring chamber groups from within the orchestra. You can find these events on the Summerfest Virtual Concert Calendar, or see their Friday evening “Virtual Music Hour” every weekend right here!

National Repertory Orchestra

Jenny Cvek/Courtesy National Repertory Orchestra
The National Repertory Orchestra plays an outdoor 4th of July concert in 2019.

The National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge has also offered online masterclasses to their talented students this summer with superstars like violinists Pinchas Zukerman and Augustin Hadelich and pianist Anton Nel. 

Formerly the Blue Jeans Symphony (founded by cellist Walter Charles in Estes Park), the NRO has always prioritized bridging the gap between academic training and the intensely competitive world of professional music-making by running promising young musicians through a summer-long marathon of standard repertoire. 

Today, the National Repertory Orchestra offers more than a musical crash-course: participants learn about music therapy, putting together children’s and pops concerts to reach new listeners, and audition tips. Under the baton of longtime conductor Carl Topilow, the performers experience a summer in the life of a professional orchestra musician. 

The orchestra’s 60th anniversary this summer was supposed to be a grand event, but plans needed to be scaled back due to the pandemic. Instead of welcoming swaths of new young performers, Breckenridge welcomed back a few NRO alumni string quartets who perform midday pop-up concerts on the Riverwalk Center Stage in Breckenridge, Wednesdays through Sundays, throughout the summer.

This week’s Summerfest concert will feature some incredible favorites from both the Colorado Symphony and the National Repertory Orchestra. Listen for NRO’s performances of Arturo Marquez’s "Danzon no. 2, the Colas Breugnon Overture" by Kabalevsky, and Mussorgsky’s "Pictures at an Exhibition." The Colorado Symphony will present Mozart’s "Clarinet Concerto" featuring clarinetist Jason Shafer, and Ellington’s "Three Black Kings!"

Hear great moments from seasons past of the National Repertory Orchestra and Colorado Symphony, 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.”