Classical meets funk at festival |

Classical meets funk at festival

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – Whether it’s Beethoven, bluegrass, Big Band or Broadway tunes that bring you out, the Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF) has them – and more.

The BMF begins its seven-week classical concert series with the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) June 15. In its 42nd season, the NRO brings the best young musicians together to prepare for careers in symphony orchestras.

The Blue River Series spotlights rock, funk, flamenco guitar, country, pop, jazz, bluegrass, Big Band and Broadway tunes to Breckenridge between June 16 and Aug. 27. The series brings more than 15 national acts like New Orleans funk band Papa Grows Funk, rockers Firefall and Oscar winner and pianist Randy Newman, as well as up-and-coming artists.

The Breckenridge Music Institute Orchestra (BMI) launches its summer concert series July 20. The BMI’s 45 professional musicians will present nine main-stage and three joint concerts at the Riverwalk Center as well as 16 smaller chamber concerts at churches and homes. Maestro Gerhardt Zimmerman presents a varied repertoire including a major choral work, opera and pops programs.

The NRO’s opening concert begins at 7:30 p.m. June 15 and features the orchestra performing John Williams’ “Summon the Heroes” and associate principal cellist Evie Koh as soloist in Bruch’s “Kol Nidre.” The program concludes with “Symphony No. 2” by Serge Rachmaninoff.

From the time Berkeley, Calif., resident Koh picked up the cello at age 6, it felt natural, she said. Maestro Carl Topilow chose her as a soloist after she auditioned at Juilliard School of Music, from which she will graduate next year.

“It’s so exciting,” Koh said. “”Kol Nidre’ is just a beautiful piece. It’s so simple in a way and yet deeply moving. Rachmaninoff is a huge symphony. It’s really complex in the way it’s written and so easy and beautiful to listen to.”

The following evening, the atmosphere shifts from classical music to the classic, deep-rooted sounds of Southern California.

Singer and songwriter Karla Bonoff showcases her million-selling hit songs as part of the Blue River Series at 7:30 p.m. June 16.

At age 16, Bonoff lined up at the Troubadour in Los Angeles at noon on Mondays to secure a slot in the famous Troubadour Hoot, a starting point for many musicians.

“It was an amazing time,” Bonoff said. “Jackson Browne, James Taylor, The Eagles and Elton John were around the Troubadour in those days.”

After four years at the Troubadour, Bonoff signed on with Columbia Records. Since then, artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and Winona Judd have recorded her songs, and she has performed with Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh and Don Henley.

“Karla’s songs always seem to touch people’s hearts,” said Kenny Edwards, who has played in Ronstadt’s band. “They are clear, emotionally resonating songs.”

Edwards will add bass, mandolin, guitar and vocals to Bonoff’s June 16 performance.

“We take a lot of instruments, just to keep it interesting,” Edwards said. “It’s kind of like power-folk.”

Bonoff’s performance will be a retrospect of everything she has done, she said, adding her fans go back 30 years. Even people who are unfamiliar with Bonoff will probably recognize her work when she performs it.

“The thing I hear most is, “I know that song. I didn’t realize you wrote that song,'” Bonoff said.

For tickets to all BMF events, call the Riverwalk Center Box Office at (970) 547-3100. NRO and BMI tickets are $17, $22 and $27, and tickets for the Blue River Series range from $17 to $42. For more information, call (970) 547-3100 or visit the Web site at http://www.breckenridgemusic

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

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