AMFS Winter Music Series Brings Top Contemporary Classical Artists to Aspen

by Damien Williamson, Time Out Staff Writer
Back in 2011 when, due to financial constraints, the Aspen Music Festival and School decided to cancel its annual winter music series, a group of Aspenites responded the only way they knew how: They put on their own.

“The idea that there would be a winter without quality music — we didn’t like that,” Stephanie Naidoff, a leader of the group — many of whom were on the Music Festival board or national council, said at the time.

So when it came time to plan out the 2012 season, the helm at the Aspen Music Festival and School knew that the clearly popular Winter Music Series needed to be on the books.

“The fact that community members created their own series told us that our Winter Music Series had to be a priority,” says Janice Szabo, AMFS Public Relations Manager.

The Aspen Music Festival and School launched the Winter Music Series in 1993 to coincide with the opening of the 500-seat Harris Concert Hall. The goal was not only to offer a small slice of the 300-plus musical events of the summer festival, but also to showcase many of today’s top classical musicians.

The 2014 series will feature three musicians. Pianist Joyce Yang kicks off the winter music lineup on Thursday, Feb. 13; violinist Jennifer Koh will perform on Thursday, Feb. 20; and acclaimed violinist Robert McDuffie will perform with pianist Elizabeth Prigden on Saturday, March 15.

Korean-born Yang has extensively toured the United States, playing concerts with a variety of symphony orchestras — including the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra — after graduating from Juilliard as the recipient of the 2010 Arthur Rubinstein Prize. That same year she was also awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, one of the most prestigious prizes in classical music. Her pre-Valentine’s Day “romantic” program on Feb. 13 will include four of Debussy’s “Preludes,” Schumann’s “Fantasiestucke,” and works by Rachmaninoff.
Joyce Yang

First-generation Korean-American Jennifer Koh is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with dazzling virtuosity and technical assurance. She has performed extensively with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, among others. The Avery Fisher Career Grant winner will present her critically acclaimed “Bach and Beyond” on Feb. 20, which includes “Sonata No. 2” and “Sonata No. 3 for Unaccompanied Violin,” as well as other virtuosic works.

Aspen Music Festival and School alumnus Robert McDuffie is an internationally renowned violinist, having played with a plethora of orchestras around the world. He was nominated for a Grammy in 1990 for his performance of concertos by Leonard Bernstein and William Schuman, and is a co-founder and artistic director for the Rome Chamber Music Festival. For his March 15 program, McDuffie will perform Brahms’ “Violin Sonata No. 1” and Beethoven’s “Violin Sonata No. 7.” McDuffie will be joined on stage by renowned pianist Elizabeth Pridgen. McDuffie will also perform a special benefit performance on March 14 at a private home in Aspen.

The Aspen Music Festival and School’s 65th summer season kicks off on June 26 and runs through Aug. 14. The 2014 season will explore the resurgence of Romantic imagination, and feature many world-renowned guest artists including Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Sarah Chang, Midori, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, Vladimir Feltsman, Wu Han, Alisa Weilerstein, David Finckel, Eric Owens, Leonard Slatkin, the Emerson String Quartet, and more.

Winter Music Series
Presented by Aspen Music Festival and School

Joyce Yang
Thursday, Feb. 13 • 6:30 p.m. • $50

Jennifer Koh
Thursday, Feb. 20 •6:30 p.m. • $35

Robert McDuffie
Saturday, March 15 • 6:30 p.m. • $50