Music in the Mountains begins 17th season


Long summer evenings are about to get even better as the 17th annual Music in the Mountains series kicks off. Over the next month, the local community will have the chance to sample 25 separate performances featuring the talents of more than 300 musicians.

Music in the Mountains is a nonprofit group that brings world-renowned soloists, choirs, chamber ensembles and the Festival Orchestra together to perform classical music, primarily on the tented slopes of Durango Mountain Resort. Festival highlights follow.

Festivities kick off Sunday, July 13, with “Brass and Barbecue,” a combination of a brass quintet and a county western duo – Narrow Gauge – playing at the Silver Mountain Guest Ranch. Buses to the opening event will leave the First National Bank of Durango’s parking lot at 4 p.m. Susan Lander, general manager of the festival, said the event will be the first collaboration of its kind.

“The Brass and Barbecue began when Sterling Procter (horn player and composer) and Tim Sullivan (of Narrow Gauge) met, and decided to combine the two,” Lander said. “Sullivan composed the music himself.”

Fresh on the heels of the Brass and Barbecue, renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman will play at the DMR tent on July 17. Gluzman will play selections from Mozart, Prokofiev and Bruch with guests including his wife, Angela Yoffe, on piano. Gluzman has performed throughout the world and has been called “capable of both delicate nuances and incendiary passion” by the Washington Post. Born in the Ukraine, he began studying violin at age 7. He studied at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and the Juilliard School in New York. Yoffe was born in Latvia and began piano at age four. She has won top prizes in various competitions and performs as a soloist and chamber musician. This is the seventh season the couple will return to Music in the Mountains, and they also will play a special duet at the BootJack Ranch in Pagosa Springs later in the week.

“Pagosa didn’t used to have much of an opportunity for classical music,” Lander said. “Having concerts in Pagosa was the brainchild of David Brown, a patron from Pagosa, and our president, James Foster.”

Another definite festival highlight is sure to be Pops Night on July 23, which will feature music from Hollywood to Broadway. Inside the DMR tent, the festival orchestra will perform “Hollywood” theme songs from “Superman,” “E.T.” and “Star Wars” alongside Broadway pieces like Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and songs from “Oklahoma” and the “Music Man.” This show also is a benefit dinner with an auction during the intermission.

“This show is a hit,” Lander said. “It’s informal and is a fun initiation into the world of classical music.”

Families will want to head to the Durango Arts Center on Sunday, July 27, when the center will host a free concert and instrument expo for children. The concert will include music from Tchaikovsky and selections based on poems by Ogden Nash.

“The expo is great for kids, because you can’t get them to participate until they see what they are participating in,” Lander said.

Family Festivo, a free concert for children and families, will be held two days later, at Durango’s Rotary Park. The festival orchestra will play selections from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” while members of the Durango Children’s Theatre enact it. The event also will feature the Ballet Folklorico dancers, games and food.

Shortly after Family Festivo, students from the seventh annual Music in the Mountains Conservatory will have their premiere performance at Roshong Hall at Fort Lewis College. The conservatory, a school for pre-college string instrument or piano players, offers students a chance to fine tune their musical skills by learning from teachers from all over the world. This year, more than 100 students are enrolled and come from as far away as Alaska. Conservancy students will perform the following night as well.

The festival will come to an end in the DMR tent Aug. 3, when the festival orchestra plays Prokofiev’s music from “Romeo and Juliet.”

In addition to this brief sampling, there will be diverse shows nearly every night, and there should be something for everyone. The festival also is a pleasure for each of its 300 musicians who come together only in this setting, said conductor, founding father and festival artistic director, Maestro Mischa Semanitzky.

“All of the musicians who come to perform together in the clear air of this spectacular mountain setting relish the opportunity to enjoy a new level of intimacy among world-class musicians,” he said.







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