The concert halls have been closed for so long that we’ve almost forgotten the anticipation we feel while the orchestra warms up, the sound of the collective applause as the concertmaster and conductor take the stage, and the thrill of that first downbeat. Live music, glorious live music, how we’ve missed you!
So now that you’ve become an expert at making a reservation for just about everything this past year, here’s what you need to know about Colorado classical music festivals and their return to live music. When tickets go on sale, you’ll be ready!
The Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Bravo! Vail, and the Aspen Music Festival -- the three big powerhouse classical music festivals -- have all announced their summer season and all of them include in-person concerts. In addition, streaming performances you can enjoy from the comfort of your home are being planned for CMF and Bravo! Vail. Aspen has not announced streaming events as of yet, but is considering adding them.
And these aren’t the only places you’ll find live music. Below is our growing list of live concerts being planned as we hail the return of live music!
Please note: all festivals will be adhering to state and local safety protocols for COVID-19 safety. While these protocols may change throughout the summer, expect audience spacing that allows for social distancing, more distance between performers, masks, etc.
CMF was first out of the gate with their season announcement, announcing that their nearly six-week schedule will begin with violinist Augustin Hadelich and will end Aug. 7 with Beethoven’s victorious Symphony #5. In between we’ll see appearances by pianist Stewart Goodyear, Olga Kern and Conrad Tao. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein will premiere the new cello concerto composed for her by Joan Tower. And the famed Juilliard String Quartet will take the stage July 13. Concert goers can purchase tickets to see the performances live at Chautauqua Auditorium or via live stream.
Bravo! Vail is unique in that it doesn’t just bring in big name soloists to perform, it brings in four entire orchestras PLUS big name soloists. We weren’t sure how that would work this year, but Bravo! has announced that it’s back with three mainstay orchestras and a chamber orchestra. The Academy of St. Martin In the Fields with conductor/violinist Joshua Bell are back after a two-year hiatus from Bravo! Vail. They will open the festival on June 24 to be followed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Chamber music concerts, free concerts and immersive experiences are all on the lineup as well.
Last year, Bravo! had success with digital concerts and is planning for several streamed concerts in case you’re not ready for a crowd yet.
The Aspen Music Festival and School also opens July 1 and runs 52 days with nearly 150 live events. In addition, nearly 300 students will study in-person with artist-faculty members (approximately half of their regular attendance). The big new superstar this year is soprano Renée Fleming who will inaugurate the new Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS program, an event that was postponed from 2020. Fleming will also perform with the Aspen Chamber Symphony at the Benedict Music Tent on Friday, July 16.
A major first-timer to Aspen is cellist Sheku-Kanneh Mason, winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician award and cellist at the 2018 royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Mason performs the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Aspen Chamber Symphony on Aug. 20.
The Colorado Symphony pivoted to a small chamber orchestra last summer and performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Red Rocks over several nights. This year, the full orchestra returns with two nights of the Music of John Williams. The orchestra will play much-loved favorites from movies like “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Jurassic Park,” “Harry Potter,” “E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial” and more. It’s hard to say who will enjoy it more - parents or their kids?
Tickets for the May 23 and May 25 concerts go on sale Friday, April 23.
Last summer, Central City Opera innovated by turning their balcony at their famed opera house into a stage for solo performances. This summer the company is being even more creative by staging their postponed 2020 season outside. The full-length operas, Roger and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” will be performed at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and the CCO Al Fresco concert series will be held in the Opera House Gardens in Central City.
Central City will contact anyone holding tickets from last summer.
Single tickets go on sale April 20.
Music in the Mountains is staying home AND hitting the road this summer with their new mobile stage. For two and a half weeks in July, the Durango-based music festival will have a mix of concerts at Ft. Lewis College's Community Concert Hall as well as concerts at various outdoor locales throughout southwest Colorado including "Burritos and Bach" at a ranch.
The final concert on August 1st features the premiere of a new piece commissioned to celebrate the resiliency of the community over this past year.
Tickets are on sale now!
We will update this webpage as other festivals across the state announce their summer plans.