Plan a trip anywhere in the West this summer and you'll find a music festival: Sun Valley, Santa Fe, or the grandmother
of them all, Aspen. Or, stay at home and relish our own Music in the Mountains.
About to open its 24th season, MITM has rightfully achieved a place in such illustrious company as Vail or La Jolla.
Back in 1987 it took a dream, a small but enthusiastic circle of musicians and persistence to sustain a high quality
classical festival. So here we are, and MITM has continued its commitment to excellence. It has also adjusted to the
economic slump with a slightly abbreviated season. Still, all the parts are in place.
The biggest shift involves more chamber music and fewer large orchestra offerings - reduced from six to four, all at
the end of the festival to minimize costs and maximize the musical punch such evenings provide. The
intimate-grandiose mix came into play in the mid 1990s when Artistic Director Greg Hustis launched chamber music
concerts. He continues to surprise music lovers with innovative matchmaking - the right musicians with the most
Mounting full orchestra concerts at summer festivals may be a thing of the past, a luxury that could sail out on the
currently weak economic tide. It's a shift not to be decried; chamber music offers many riches. And so let's thank
the musical gods for finally exorcizing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture from the MITM finale. That old warhorse with its
troublesome cannon shots threatened to become a tradition. Someone needed to shout "Cease Fire," and someone
apparently did. On Aug. 1, the Festival Orchestra will close the season with a program titled "A Night at the Opera."
That said, what might we anticipate this year? Music Director and Conductor Guillermo Figueroa will return for his
second season, and he's bringing some old and new treats with him. He'll conduct symphonies by Beethoven, Sibelius
and Schumann, and chamber works by Haydn, Mozart, and Stravinsky. Figueroa will also stand alone for Bach's
spectacular Chaconne for solo violin.
Two returning soloists, violinist Vadim Gluzman and pianist Avi Reichert, are each coming to Durango for a 13th
summer - hard to believe. No wonder they have a loyal following, they've earned it. In addition to concert
performances, both will teach a master class at Conservatory Music in the Mountains. If you've never attended one, now's your chance. The classes take place in Roshong Recital Hall at Fort Lewis College and are free.
To open the festival gate this weekend, two rising Russian-born musicians will be featured - first in Pagosa Springs, then Durango. Violinist Dmitri Berlinsky and pianist Elena Baksht will perform salon-style with works by Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Bloch at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at The Springs Resort and Spa. They repeat the program at 5 p.m. Sunday
at Purgatory Lodge. At $125, the opening gala benefit is pricey, but patrons get a spectacular spread plus all that
Among other highlights:
Gluzman is one of those musical skyrockets that burst on stage with energy and confidence. Virtuosic performances
follow. Gluzman's first concert will be July 16, in a not-to-miss chamber evening at the Community Concert Hall.
Vadim and Friends includes a Beethoven piano trio and a Cesar Frank piano quintet with Gluzman's performance of
Prokofiev's Violin Sonata in D with pianist David Korevaar in the center.
On Sunday, July 18, Gluzman plays Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in the DMR tent with the Festival Chamber
Orchestra. It's a big night with Figueroa also conducting Stravinsky's sprightly Pulcinella Suite and Haydn's
Symphony No. 102.
The bonus feature this summer is Gluzman's free master class for young violinists attending the Conservatory. The
class meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 15, in Roshong Recital Hall.
Pops and special events: Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster launches one of the alternative music events on
Tuesday in the tent. With a 5:30 p.m. preconcert beer and barbecue feed at Steamworks Brewery, the evening looks a
lot like a party. The next week, guest conductor Carl Topilow returns for the big Pops Night Dinner and Concert -
again in the tent. A reception and elaborate silent auction precede dinner. Partygoers then will hear dance tunes
from rags to hoedowns plus singable music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Strauss, and Dvorak concluding with selections
from Bizet's Carmen.
The Festival Orchestra begins its heavy lifting Saturday, July 24 with Berlioz's Overture to Beatrice and Benedict.
Figueroa is a Berlioz specialist, that 19th century orchestral innovator, that lover of music based on Shakespearean
texts, and not to push a point, that lover of English actresses. After all that electricity, oboist Erin Hannigan
will change the air and atmosphere when she plays Strauss's lovely Oboe Concerto. The concert concludes with another
monumental work, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
The second Festival Orchestra concert will be in the Community Concert Hall to accommodate Reichert who will
celebrate Chopin Year by performing the Polish composer's Concerto No. 1. Cheers to MITM for programming this great
work. After intermission, be prepared to ascend the heights as the orchestra plays another mountain of music:
Sibelius's Symphony No. 2.
On the final weekend, July 31 and Aug. 1, the Festival Orchestra will offer more symphonic music; Schubert's
"Unfinished" and Dvorak's No. 8. And Figueroa will welcome the winner of the Conservatory competition to play one
movement from one of the preordained competition pieces. The competition takes place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 19, in
Roshong. This is the second year for this shining event.
In what can only be called imaginative programming, the festival finale Aug. 1 will close with a beginning of sorts:
Smetana's Overture to his opera, "The Bartered Bride." A Night at the Opera is a splashy program with three other
openers: Rossini's Overture to the "Barber of Seville," Beethoven's "Leonore" Overture, and Verdi's Prelude to
"Aida." Tucked into this spectrum is Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1 and Barber's meltingly beautiful Adagio for Strings.
New to everyone will be Mariano Morales' work for horn and orchestra. Hustis will solo in what Figueroa says is a
"poetic and romantic contemporary work."
Villa-Lobos and Jobim at St. Columba July 22. This chamber music concert at has to be the most extraordinary idea of
the festival. Bachianas Brazileiras No. 5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos may be familiar to many. It's an evocation or tribute
to Bach in the spirit of Brazilian music which is often performed in many ways. In the last few years we've heard
both flute and vocal soloists. It's rarely performed Villa-Lobos scored it for soprano and eight cellos. Enter the
MITM magicians who have found eight stellar cellists to accompany our own mesmerizing soprano Gemma Kavanagh for the
performance. Christopher Adkins, principal cello with the Dallas Symphony, will conduct. And if that's not enough to
make music lovers faint, Adkins has arranged another Brazilian work for the same entourage: Desafinado, by the late
composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. The concert program also includes two works by Bach and a Mozart quintet.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at email@example.com.