Playing a new tune: Breckenridge Music focuses on song and dance for 2019 festival
Since 1981, Breckenridge Music has been providing the community with opportunities to hear classical and contemporary sounds. For the 2019 Breckenridge Music Festival, artistic director Steven Schick returns to highlight mid-20th century compositions with the organization’s theme, “Songs and Dances.”
Over time the festival has been trimmed from five weeks to three, but there’s still plenty to do and see. Here is a breakdown of all that is happening.
Kicking things off for the second year on Saturday is the family friendly KidFest, a free day of activities and music for all ages. At 11 a.m. in the South Branch Library, 103 S. Harris St., kids 5 and under will hear from the book “Trombone Shorty” — written by the titular musician performing later in August — as they explore singing and storytelling.
Throughout the afternoon on the Arts District Campus, children can participate in a collaborative collage and drum circle, test instruments in an “instrument petting zoo” and learn elements of music with orchestra Olympics.
The day culminates at 4 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center in a free family concert called “The Story of Lieutenant Kijé,” a satire about what happens when someone tells a little white lie. The performance features actors from Breckenridge Backstage Theatre Company, young, award-winning pianist Paul Sri and an original script by Amy V. Fenton.
“We take the audience through some exercises of creating stories with sounds you can make on your body or with your mouth or anything that’s nonverbal essentially,” said Breckenridge Music executive director Tamara Nuzzaci Park. “Then we take it to how composers use music to convey mood and stories nonverbally.”
After the concert, be sure to bring your own blanket for a community picnic and bluegrass concert at 5 p.m. on the Riverwalk Center lawn.
Chamber concerts with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres will be held on Sunday. The first features the music of George Gershwin performed by a brass quintet at the Trowbridge home at 11 a.m., while the second has pianist Robin Sutherland playing the music of Mason Bates, Libby Larsen and Johannes Brahms at 7 p.m.
The first large-scale classical evening of the festival is Bach, Mozart, Sutherland and Friends. Pianist Sutherland, who retired from 45 years with the San Francisco Symphony last year, takes the Riverwalk Center stage with other musicians at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the first contemporary night of music gives life to this year’s theme with a concert of Frank Sinatra songs sung by Las Vegas local Steve Lippia and conducted by Schick. Titled Simply Swingin’ with Sinatra and Friends, the event happens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Riverwalk Center.
“It’s those quintessential 1950s songs and albums everyone knows and loves,” Park said.
Then Saturday, July 27, is the first session of Acoustic Flow, a morning of yoga paired with music on the Riverwalk Center lawn that was first seen during the 2018 Breckenridge International Festival of Arts. The free activity happens at 8 a.m. each Saturday and Sunday during the festival.
Later that night, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony will be performed by the festival’s 45-person orchestra and conducted by Schick at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center.
What: Breckenridge Music Festival
When: July 20 through Aug. 11
Where: Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge Theater, Edwin Carter Museum, Milne Park, Barney Ford Museum, South Branch Library, Arts District Campus and private homes.
Cost: Some events are free, individual tickets start at $25 and packages range from $60–$261. Visit BreckMusic.org full the full schedule and to purchase tickets.
The week starts with another Champagne concert, this time featuring the music of Henri Tomasi, Jean Sibelius and Franz Joseph Haydn at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 28, at the Louis home.
Over at Breckenridge Theater, Views from 9,600’ highlights American composers Gabriella Smith and Irving Fine in addition to Hugo Wolf and Johannes Brahms. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30.
A new initiative this year is Tiny Porches, a series of free events set in historic properties throughout the town that weave together original music and storytelling based on Breckenridge’s past. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chair to the half-hour sessions that feature local musician Leon Joseph Littlebird, composer in residence Max Wolpert and local historians Sandra Mather and Rick Hague.
The first group of performances are Wednesday, July 31, at 6 p.m. at the Edwin Carter Museum and Milne Park while the second set are Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 6 at the Edwin Carter Museum and Barney Ford Museum.
Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, performed at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center on Thursday, Aug. 1, features classical music and Nathan Olson on violin. However, to tie it to the theme, it also includes a more modern piece by Ruth Crawford Seeger, the stepmother of folk singer and activist Pete Seeger.
“All of these pieces and people were really a part of developing the American sound,” said Park.
Similar to Acoustic Flow, last year’s BIFA featured a combination of orchestral music and meditation in an event called In The Light Of Air. Now, going by Sonic Mediation, the popular activity returns to the Riverwalk Center on Friday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m. Presented with Meta Yoga Studios, people are invited to lay on the venue’s stage while listening to Terry Riley’s atmospheric “In C” piece.
“It’s a really unique opportunity to experience contemporary classical music in a different setting where you open your mind and your heart and your body to the experience,” Park said.
Arguably the most unique event of the festival, Deep River of Song has Boulder-based Jayme Stone, his group Folklife, Bonnie Paine of Elephant Revival and the festival orchestra join together for a night of folk music based on the work of Alan Lomax. An early 20th-century ethnomusicologist, Lomax is known for traveling mainly around the South and taking field recordings of blues and folk music, thereby preserving the sounds of Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and others.
For this project, Stone researched the recordings and arranged them for Folklife as Wolpert wrote orchestra transcriptions. Under Schick’s conducting, the audience can expect to hear Stone on banjo and vocals, Rachel Ries on guitar and keyboards, Sumaia Jackson on fiddle, Andrew Ryan on bass, Kevin Matthews on drums and Paine on vocals as well as a variety of instruments such as the washboard and saw.
“It’s a really beautiful program of Jayme original music, these folk tunes that Alan Lomax unearthed and then we transcribed for this unique combination of classical and folk instruments,” said Park. “It should be an evening of really interesting, totally original programming that you probably can’t find anywhere else.”
The concert happens on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center.
Another round of Champagne concerts takes place this week. First the Gasperut home hosts one on Sunday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m., then a second happens on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m. at the Hughes home and finally the Rodon home hosts the last concert at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11.
But before the festival ends, the orchestra will perform A Bouquet of Folk Music on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Breckenridge Theater. The concert highlights the work by Franz Berwald, Ferde Grofé, Grazyna Bacewicz and Caroline Shaw.
Copland’s Appalachian Spring brings a trio of American classics to the Riverwalk Center on Thursday, Aug. 8., at 7:30 p.m. Soprano Jessica Aszodi starts the concert by singing Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” and then 13 musicians play an original ballet version of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.” After an intermission, the concert concludes with music by Florence Price, who as the first African-American woman to have her compositions performed by a major orchestra.
Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony effectively closes the festival on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center. Aszodi returns to lend her vocal talents to the marriage of classical and folk songs that are emblematic of the festival.
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