This weekend's concerts open with a powerhouse program of Bernstein's emotionally engaging Symphony No. 2, “The
Age of Anxiety,” and Beethoven’s epoch-making Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” Robert Spano conducts the Aspen Chamber Symphony, and the sublime Jean-Yves Thibaudet solos in the Bernstein (which, though he called it a symphony, is really a piano con- certo; Friday, July 13, 6 p.m., Benedict Music Tent).
Saturday night, and again on Mon- day, we present our first fully staged opera of the season, Rossini’s comic masterpiece “The Barber of Seville.” Rossini was perhaps the most popular composer of his time (to Beethoven’s dismay), and this brilliant romp will show you why (Saturday, July 14, 7 p.m. and Monday, July 16, at 8 p.m., Wheeler Opera House).
Sunday’s afternoon event is a tour de-force of romanticism. First is a little-known gem by Debussy, known in English as “The Blessed Damozel.” Then the sensational pianist Daniil Trifonov brings his own piano concerto to the stage with the Aspen Festival Orchestra. One of the most imposing virtuoso pianists in the world, Trifonov is a wonderful composer, channeling the spirit of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff in a gorgeous display piece. Then, maestro Ludivoc Morlot leads Mussorgsky's epic "Pictures at an Exhibition," one of the greatest of all orchestral showpieces.
Also this weekend, we begin a special free series that has become deeply loved by its fan base: the Aspen Conducting Academy's readings of works by our student composers. Those who know about them often wonder why these programs are not jammed – the combination of student composers and conductors with expert guidance, given in a master class format, is extraordinarily interesting. It’s like a great program note come to life. Since an impressive number of the leading young composers in the world have come through our program, you are seeing the future of music work itself out in real time (Sunday, July 15, 9 a.m.-noon with a different program Thursday, July 19, also 9 a.m.-noon, in Harris Hall, both free).
The American Brass Quintet gives its annual recital this coming Thursday (July 19, 8:30 p.m., Harris Hall). A great new feature is the inclusion of the four student brass groups making up our brand-new American Brass Quintet Seminar @Aspen – a deep immersion exclusively in brass chamber music for some of the best young players in the world. The student groups have their own complete recital, completely free, on Monday, July 16, at 5 p.m. at the Pitkin County Library.
Alan Fletcher is president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School.