Editor’s Picks: Summit County’s best bets for the weekend | SummitDaily.com

Editor’s Picks: Summit County’s best bets for the weekend

For a community with a relatively small amount of year-round residents, Summit County is rich with culture.

This weekend, not only do we have talented sculptors from all over the world in Breckenridge for the International Snow Sculpture Championships, but we also have the performing artists of Fractal Tribe, who combine acrobatics with pyrotechnics at the Fire Arts Festival.

One thing that may be lesser-known in the county is the fact that we have Metropolitan Opera performances streamed live right in our backyard. I recently spoke with David Pessel, who was influential in bringing Met Opera HD broadcasts to Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. With a love of opera, but not a love of driving to Denver (or flying to New York) to see it, several years ago, he went to the head of Opera Colorado in Central City to see about getting a live opera in Summit County.

"They looked at me like I was off my rocker," he told me.

Although the cost prohibited that dream from coming true, he didn't give up. He joined the board of the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) and became the chair of its opera committee. The Metropolitan Opera's contract with commercial theaters limits the amount of nonprofit venues able to stream its performances, as well as having restrictions on how close those showings could be to those theaters — and Denver was just over the tunnel. But with perseverance and a little luck, he and the NRO were finally able to be added to the small host of nonprofits allowed to broadcast the operas.

Then came raising money for what was needed. Colorado Mountain College offered up the Finkel Auditorium for the space. The college also purchased all the equipment necessary for the HD broadcasts, with the hopes it would put CMC on the map culturally more than it was already. A significant chunk of change, Pessel estimates it cost around $20,000.

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"The Met has very strong-quality criteria as far as the audio and the video," he said.

The first HD performance of "Carmen" was April 10, 2010. There were a few hiccups in the beginning, as in everything, but the Met Opera HD broadcast in Breckenridge is now celebrating its sixth year. Click here for a preview of its next showing of "Turandot," by Elmer Koneman, also a key player in getting the HD broadcasts off the ground.

"Summit County is spectacular when it comes to supporting the arts," Pessel said. "I've lived in New York, Cleveland, London — I've lived all over the world, and I just can't get over what Summit County is willing to do to keep itself on the map in a good way."

I couldn't agree more.

INTERNATIONAL SNOW SCULPTURE COMPETITION

The sculptors are wrapping up their designs in the International Snow Sculpture Competition in Breckenridge. The town recommends Friday as one of the best and most festive viewing days, as sculptors work through the night to put on finishing touches before their Saturday 10 a.m. deadline. The awards ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and People's and Kids' Choice voting continues until Sunday.

FIRE ARTS FESTIVAL

Breckenridge Creative Arts' Fire Arts Festival continues into the weekend with fire sculptures lit on the hour from 5-9 p.m. Boulder-based circus collective Fractal Tribe will be doing fiery performances on the half hour from 5:30-8:30 p.m. There are also free demonstrations and workshops on the Arts District campus.

BREWERS ROCK FOR RESCUE

The second annual Brewers Rock for Rescue will bring 22 breweries and live music to the Silverthorne Pavilion. The fundraiser, inspired by Cory Forster from Bakers' Brewery, is a fundraiser for Summit County Rescue Group. This important nonprofit offers backcountry assistance to hikers, skiers, climbers, rafters and other outdoor enthusiasts in need — and they do it for free.