A champion of modern music: New conductor Steven Schick illuminates Breckenridge Music Festival (sponsored)
In 1981 a small group of locals founded the Breckenridge Music Institute to put on a handful of performances and educational workshops at the base of Breckenridge Ski Area. Now known as Breckenridge Music, or more colloquially, Breck Music, the organization produces an annual summer festival anchored by a four-week residency of 40 professional musicians and presents popular national touring acts as well as year-round music education programs.
Breckenridge Music’s latest high note comes in the form of acclaimed percussionist and conductor Steven Schick, debuting as artistic director and conductor of the summer festival. His international profile affords him to not only attract the greatest classical musicians, upon whom the festival has built its reputation, but also draw renowned composers and guest artists to Breckenridge.
“Steven is a champion of modern music,” says Tamara Nuzzaci Park, Breckenridge Music executive director. “New music can often be unfamiliar, and Steven has a knack for creating the right context and communicating connections for audiences.”
Music-centric, with a twist
“Steven isn’t just a conductor; he is percussionist, author, teacher and a true artistic collaborator,” Park says.
With his most current and recent positions as the music director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as well as co-artistic director of the Summer Music Program at the Banff Center, Schick deeply understands both intimate communities and metropolitan areas. As a result, he presents a balance of traditional orchestra concerts and unique music-centered events, like late-night yoga on the Riverwalk Center Stage paired with a contemporary chamber music piece by Anna Thorsvaldottir called “In the Light of Air,” providing participants a unique way to experience music. In addition, open rehearsals and talks offer an up-close-and-personal experience unavailable to the general public in most major cities and venues. After observing rehearsals, audiences will be able to interact with the musicians on stage.
Inspired by the landscape
In fact, it is Schick’s cross-over approach to the Breckenridge Music Festival’s repertoire that makes this summer — and summers to follow — so special. During his first trip to Breckenridge in August 2016, canted beams of early morning light reflecting off the Blue River, near-blinding intensities of noonday sun at 9,600 feet and bilious green clouds carrying afternoon showers captivated him so dramatically that he wanted to translate his vision into musical expressions.
“I’ve been asking myself how the light and color of Breckenridge might be translated into sound,” he says.
From this inspiration, highlights of the luminous summer include the light of a genuine star, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, who will join the festival in Lou Harrison’s delightful “Concerto for Pipa, while Prokofiev’s “Classical Symphony” (1) and Haydn’s “Miracle” (96) complete a program of kaleidoscopic color.
The theme of light and color persist with John Luther Adams’s “The Light Within” and Tan Dun’s “Concerto for Water,” in which Schick joins the orchestra as percussion soloist, playing percussion instruments by striking and then lowering them into glowing, translucent bowls of water.
In addition to the classical Festival, Breck Music also has a long history of presenting popular music at the Riverwalk Center. This season, up-and-coming folk band, I’m With Her, takes the stage as well as locals’ bluegrass favorite, Keller Williams and jazz superstar, Arturo Sandoval.
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