The Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival begins Saturday with a soiree in the Silverthorne home of Kevin McLane and Mike Ragsdale, with music from Saint-Saens, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Glinka and Brahms.
The mission of the nonprofit Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival is to enhance the cultural life of the community by bringing nationally and internationally known musicians to Summit County, and the first soiree will feature soprano Ilana Davidson, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan, violist Masumi Rostad and festival co-directors Rieko Aizawa and Jesse Mills on piano and violin, respectively.
Soiree vs. concert
B.J. Daniel, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival, said the soirees, held in the homes of local music lovers, are a major fundraiser for the festival. The two soirees of the festival differ from the two concerts at Lord of the Mountains in Dillon due to the setting — and the price.
“It’s a full musical program but they cost a little bit more,” Daniel said of the soirees. “And we have food, so most people, that’s their dinner for the night and we provide wine, and it’s just a good evening out. But it’s also cozier, being in a person’s home.”
Each soiree hosts 45 to 50 people, Daniel said, and the price tag is $75, compared with the $20 or $10 tickets for the larger concerts.
“We enjoy the music and then they get to converse among themselves because everybody’s a music lover,” she said. “A lot of people plan trips up here just for the event. It’s just one week, and some people are from other areas of the country and they make sure they’re there for this week.”
A setting for chamber music
Daniel said there are advantages to listening to chamber music in such an intimate setting.
“Chamber music was really designed originally as a small group to be played in a small setting,” she said. “And so this way, you get to meet and converse with the artists afterwards because after they play, they join as we all eat, and it’s cozier. And some people have met other people through this because of being mutual music lovers.”
The concerts at Lord of the Mountains are also important, as they offer a less expensive way for locals and visitors to have exposure to chamber music. The first concert in Dillon takes place Tuesday.
“We are most fortunate to have Lord of the Mountains, where we have the concert,” Daniels said. “They have such great acoustics, and they showcase our musicians, too. It’s two completely different venues for music enthusiasts.”
Relying on support
In order to bring six internationally recognized musicians to play in Summit County for the week at an affordable price, the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival relies heavily on the money raised by the soirees, grants and other generous donations.
“We have six musicians that we bring from all over the country,” Daniel said. “Just to handle the finance of that, we have to raise money. We do it through grants or through fundraisers because a $10 to $20 ticket doesn’t pay all of our expenses. It’s a fundraiser that helps underwrite the cost of bringing the musicians.”
Volunteers also support the festival.
“A lot of it is volunteer,” Daniel said. “We are housing musicians in the community, cooking for them, providing transportation and showing them the good Summit County hospitality.”
One other piece of the puzzle this year will provide financial support for the festival for a few years to come.
“This year, we were gifted a Steinway that we will sell in order to raise funds,” Daniel said. “And that just came up because one of our board members began a conversation on a chairlift and a family in Denver elected to give us a beautiful Steinway piano. Rieko is a Steinway artist, so we’re going to be publicizing that throughout our festival this year, in hopes of finding a buyer.”
The Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival plays an important role in the cultural scene of Summit County, and all of the work put into the festival is worthwhile to bring beautiful music and outstanding musicians to Summit County, Daniel said.
“Blood is life, and music is the lifeblood of the soul,” she said.