BMF tunes up its classical series |

BMF tunes up its classical series

BRECKENRIDGE – As the snow begins to melt off of Breckenridge’s peaks, there’s promise for more than relief from the drought. Beginning Saturday, June 14, the Breckenridge Music Festival will quench the thirst of classical and contemporary music lovers with its Sounds of 2003 series.

Since 1980, the Breckenridge Music Festival has hosted the Breckenridge Music Institute (BMI) Orchestra, made up of 40-55 professional musicians from throughout the nation. Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann leads the BMI Orchestra in concerts featuring a range of music – including classical, polkas and movie scores.

In 1993, after the completion of the Riverwalk Center, the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) joined the music festival. The NRO has trained musicians ages 18-28 for seats in symphonic orchestras worldwide since 1960. This year, Maestro Carl Topilow visited 16 cities and selected 86 musicians from a total of 650 who auditioned for positions in the summer orchestra. Musicians learn, rehearse and play new programs every three days, completing the equivalent of a full (nine-month) symphony season in eight weeks. This year, Topilow will celebrate his 25th anniversary as the NRO’s music director and conductor. He also serves as the conductor and director of the orchestral program at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland Pops.

The Blue River Series started rounding out the music festival with nationally-known and up-and-

coming musicians seven years ago. In the last few years, the series has presented about 15 shows annually, ranging from New Orleans funk and rock ‘n’ roll to flamenco.

The Breckenridge Choral Festival is the latest addition to the music festival. Choral singers nationwide will perform with the BMI Orchestra. This year, the Virginia Symphony Chorus from Norfolk, Va., will present an all-Beethoven program Thursday, July 24.

The lineup

The NRO opens the Breckenridge Music Festival with solo harpist Julie Smith and pieces from Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith and Johannes Brahms. Its Kidz Calliope Tuesday, June 17, features the Yamaha Piano Competition winners and a special petting zoo, which allows kids to try out different instruments.

American Music Week celebrates American composers, including Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Copland, Jon Corigliano and Russel Peck from Saturday, June 28, to Sunday, July 6. Guest conductor David Loebel adds a bit of humor to American Music Week with Peter Schickele’s “Uptown Hoedown.” Schickele is known for his spoofs on Johann Sebastian Bach. The week winds down with an American movie music concert Saturday, July 5, at the Riverwalk Center and Sunday, July 6, at the Park Lane Pavilion.

“Carl (Topilow) is passionate about American music and American conductors,” said Terese Kaptur, executive director of the NRO. “Europeans brought their music over, and for some reason, we’ve had this inferiority complex … and America is loaded with its own talent. It just hasn’t been showcased.”

A concert with cellist Herine Coetzee highlights a composer people tend to either love or hate – Gustav Mahler – and his piece, Symphony No. 1, Saturday, July 12.

This year, the NRO is bringing notable guest conductors to its summer series. JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, has been recognized as one of America’s most gifted programmers because of her many awards. She conducts a concert Wednesday, July 23, which features Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. The symphony tells a riveting story of a person marched off to hell while in a drug-induced coma and is sure to keep even nonclassical audiences enthralled.

Uriel Segal, music director of the Louisville Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Century Orchestra in Osaka, Japan, presents pieces by Joseph Hayden, Peter I. Tchaikowsky and Igor Stravinsky Wednesday, June 25. David Loebel, music director and conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, is noted for performances which combine innate musicality with interpretive insight. He conducts one of the American music concerts Wednesday, July 2. Shanghai-born conductor Tsung Yeh was the first conductor to hold music directorships of a Western symphony orchestra and a major Chinese symphony orchestra. He conducts a concert Wednesday, July 9.

The NRO and the BMI are hosting separate parties on the same night – Friday, July 18. The NRO will hold a more low-key celebration in honor of its 10th anniversary in Breckenridge. It will feature performances by past and present members of the NRO.

The BMI is throwing its gala, Denim and Diamonds, instead of its traditional mid-summer feast, at the Keystone Conference Center. After an incredible feast, Cactus Jack will get the crowd scootin’ their boots in line dances. A silent auction offers vacation packages – and even a pony. Each guest’s champagne glass comes with a cubic zirconium, except for one, which holds a two-karat diamond for the winner to take home.

Violinist Jason Horowitz, the assistant concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, opens the BMI’s summer concert series with pieces from Hector Berlioz, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven Thursday, July 17.

The BMI presents polkas, waltzes and other toe-tapping tunes Saturday, July 19, followed by a Baroque bash Tuesday, July 22, and an all-Beethoven program Thursday, July 24. The BMI salutes the movies Thursday, July 31, and guitarist Nephtali Santiago joins the BMI Thursday, Aug. 7, and Saturday, Aug. 9. The season ends with “Vive La France,” featuring Horowitz.

Several season pass options offer discounts on the concert series. A season pass to all NRO and BMI concerts ranges from $450-300, depending on seating. Flex passes provide reserved seats for all NRO or all BMI concerts and cost between $250-$165. Festival dollar books, which can be redeemed for any concert, are $88 before Sunday, June 1. One booklet is worth $110. Season passes include discounts at restaurants on the nights of the concerts. For more information, or to purchase passes, call (970) 453-9142.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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