Music in the Mountains, Durango’s signature summer festival, has a different shape and contour in 2018.
On Saturday, MiTM will launch its 32nd season with an array of classical and world music concerts in Durango, Bayfield, Cortez and its home platform, the Festival Tent at Purgatory Resort.
An indie-folk band, The Hunts, will open the festival at 7 p.m. in the new Bayfield Performing Arts Center.
“I heard this group at a New York conference three years ago,” said Executive Director Angie Beach. “They’re from Virginia, and right away, I knew I wanted to schedule them.”
Once launched, the festival moves into high classical gear with half a dozen full orchestra concerts, two evenings of pops music, five chamber recitals, a family picnic-concert and several free events, including outreach performances, pre-concert lectures by the inimitable Linda Mack-Berven and open rehearsals.
On July 13, a special concert will be dedicated to the memory of festival founder Mischa Semanitsky. Music Director Guillermo Figueroa will welcome a familiar soloist for the tribute.
Pianist Avi Reichert will play Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, followed by what will most likely be a luxurious interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.” Violinist Emanuelle Boisvart, the festival’s new concertmaster, will spin the musical equivalent of Scheherazade’s tales as the internal soloist for the evening.
Other international soloists who will appear with the Festival Orchestra include cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan (July 15) and violinist Philippe Quint (July 29). Hakhnazaryan and Reichert will present a chamber recital July 14 at Cortez’s Sunflower Theatre. It’s part of the more intimate offerings that will take place in various venues with works by Barber, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorák and Tchaikovsky, among others.
Two major changes will transform the 32nd festival: concert start times and the absence of the Conservatory.
Most evening concerts will now begin at 7p.m., no longer the earlier 5:30 p.m. Because of Purgatory’s expanded outdoor family activities, Beach said, start times had to be shifted.
“Ultimately, it was our decision,” she said. “With all of Purg’s outdoor events, it’s very noisy. Outdoor activities officially shut down at 6 p.m. There’s always a lot of commotion after that, so we decided to start Festival Tent concerts at 7.”
The bustle of the Conservatory, the late Arkady Fomin’s great contribution to the festival, will no longer be heard. But, Beach said, the idea of a concerto competition winner continues as does a young quartet in residence.
Violinist Sirena Huang, 23, will perform with the orchestra on July 27, playing Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. She made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony in 2004 and has performed around the world since.
The Julius Quartet, formed in 2012 at the Boston Conservatory, is this year’s resident ensemble. The quartet will offer several outreach concerts in the area and one formal recital in Roshong Recital Hall on the Fort Lewis College campus (July 19).
The official MiTM website is one of the best performing arts sites you can find. Programs and musicians are detailed, and there are useful YouTube connections. If you want to preview music before a concert, visit the website.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.