If you have never been to the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall and you love music, this is a good weekend to make your way to campus.
In celebration of its 20 years serving the college and the community-at-large, the Concert Hall is hosting two events that are certain to reflect the quality and diversity of musical offerings our region has come to expect over the past two decades.
On Saturday, for its annual Jazz on the Hill event, musician, actor, playwright and author Storm Large, who debuted with the band Pink Martini, will perform at the Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. She will be accompanied by her band and the San Juan Symphony.
On Sunday, a free community open house and “look behind the curtain” is taking place from 1 to 4 p.m. with performances by local college and community musicians. Tickets are not required.
When asked what has changed in 20 years, director Charles Leslie said that it has become a center for performing arts groups locally and regionally, as well as touring artists who want to play at the hall. Leslie, in his ninth year, succeeded Gary Penington, who was hired as the first director when the venue opened in 1997.
Leslie introduced international acts to an existing popular national and regional entertainment mix. He also added dance, comedy and commentary that most recently included Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times columnist, Garrison Keillor, author and radio personality, and next month features David Sedaris and Robert Dubac.
Those who are familiar with the 600-seat hall know that not all of its shows take place there. Keillor performed to a 1,200-person crowd in Whalen Gymnasium, and in an effort to bridge town and gown, Leslie initiated the Concert Hall in the Park free music series in Buckley Park in 2011.
In 2007, to better reflect the strong community role the Concert Hall quickly assumed and has retained, “Community” was added to its name.
With twenty years of introducing us to different cultures through the performing arts, and offering a venue for students to perform, the hall takes its educational role seriously.
Leslie’s biggest challenge? Getting people to try something new and unfamiliar.
Challenge your senses. If not this weekend, then soon. There is a reason the Community Concert Hall was named Durango’s “2017 Best Of” for live entertainment.
Experience it. Visit durangoconcerts.com for tickets and information.