After a pandemic hiatus, a chamber music festival is coming back to Summit County 25 years after it started

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Horszowski Trio Provided
Courtesy Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival
The Horszowski Trio — from left, violinist Jesse Mills, pianist Rieko Aizawa and cellist Ole Akahoshi.

Twenty-five years ago, the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival started as “Music from the Summit.” Summit County hosts the festival — which after a hiatus during the pandemic, returns this year from August 20 through August 27

Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival is now helmed by husband and wife co-artistic directors — long-time Alpenglow violinist Jesse Mills and pianist Rieko Aizawa. Aizawa has participated in this festival every year since it began.

The couple also performs with their trio during the events. 

The Horszowski Trio began in 2011, we are a violin, piano, and cello ensemble, taking advantage of the incredible repertoire that goes back to the very traditional, to the contemporary,” Mills said.

The trio plays about 50 concerts a year, and they also travel internationally for performances. Earlier this year, they played 19 concerts in 23 days in Germany.

The Horszowski trio takes its name to honor pianist Mieczysław Horszowski. Born in 1892, the Polish-American pianist had one of the longest careers in the history of the performing arts. Rieko Aizawa was his last student at the Curtis Institute of Music before his death in 1993. 

alpenglow house concert provided
Courtesy Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival
Musicians perform in a home during the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival.

“I got to study with [Horszowski] when I was 14 and he was 96 years old already. I studied with him for four wonderful years. My last lesson was actually only one month before he passed away,” Aizawa said. “He was a very, very, dedicated, demanding teacher, with a high expectation. But most importantly, he also taught me that music making comes from [the] soul and we performers bring each composer's message to life.” 

As part of Alpenglow’s 25th-anniversary celebration, Kenji Bunch has been named the first composer in residence for the festival. 

Kenji Bunch Viola Provided
Courtesy Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival
Composer Kenji Bunch is the first composer in residence for the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival.

“I guess the idea of having the composer present is that I'm there to explain what the heck I was thinking about when I wrote the music,” Bunch said. “And just to, kind of show that composers are living people, you know, they're living amongst the rest of us.”

Bunch used five different dance genres to create a new piece for the festival. 

“Everything from a baroque sarabande to an Irish slip jig, there's a kind of old-time Appalachian back step folk dance. There's a waltz, this sort of nostalgic Viennese waltz, and finally the last movement I call ‘disco fantasy.’”

Mills said that when people come to the concerts, it’s an immersive experience, like an art exhibition, “which is transcending, you know, normal life and taking them to a very special place. So we feel like we can invite people to that and we hope that people will come.”

"Danceband" for piano, trio & percussion — a dance suite by Kenji Bunch — will have its world premiere at the festival, which also has performances in Dillon, Silverthorne and Breckenridge.