Wine, supporters and song doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as wine, women and song, but the end result of Music in the Mountains’ Summer Soiree was still memorable.
The event, held Sunday at Durango Mountain Resort, is a thank you to donors and supporters by the festival. And it’s always something special.
Sponsored by DMR, a Music in the Mountains partner for 28 years, and Chevron, a corporate sponsor and sponsor of this event for a decade, it’s a chance to gear up for the upcoming whirlwind that is this three-week festival.
About 200 people enjoyed the festivities, which started with appetizers including shrimp, beef satays, meatballs, mushroom bruschetta, a fruit platter and a summer salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Thanks to Chef Dan Furlong and his crew for fueling the partygoers.
Then it was the first trek of the season to the Festival Tent for a very special concert that came about because of a recommendation from two longtime board members, Sylvia Kehle and Michelle Oppenheimer, who with their husbands, Ralph and Robert, respectively, attended a concert in Panama and made a discovery. (The Kehles have a condo in Panama if you’re wondering how that came about in the first place.)
Their discovery was Alexandre Moutouzkine, a simply splendid Russian pianist whose performance featured too many highlights to mention. Gregory Hustis, artistic director for the festival, said he probably gets 100 emails a day from managers and other musicians suggesting someone who would “be great for Music in the Mountains.” But after getting Sylvia Kehle’s email, he checked Moutouzkine out and decided that he would, indeed, be great for the festival.
The audience agreed, giving him not one, but two standing ovations. Board President John Anderson predicts Moutouzkine will be invited back. (And he’ll probably come, because he said that out of all the venues around the world he plays each year, Durango is memorable both because of its beauty and because Hustis is the first presenter who has said his name correctly.)
He also gave a shout-out to Aviram Reichert, a returning festival favorite. Reichert earned the bronze medal at the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1997, and Moutouzkine is clearly a fan. I imagine Reichert is returning the appreciation after Sunday’s performance. (Reichert, who has performed at Music in the Mountains on and off since 1998, kicks off the first concert with the Festival Orchestra on Saturday with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, Opus 73, “Emperor,” which has stirred quite a bit of anticipation among music lovers. This year, he brought his mother, Zophia Reichert, for her first visit to Durango and Music in the Mountains. About time, Avi!)
Since Moutouzkine won the Special Award for Artistic Potential, which the jury awards at its discretion only when it thinks it’s deserved, at the 11th Van Cliburn competition in 2001 at the tender age of 19, they both scored young acclaim.
As a former pianist myself, I like to sit where I can see the performer’s hands. Moutouzkine’s hands were moving so fast in some sections that they were actually a blur, so no 32nd, 64th or 128th notes went unplayed.
The program started with a stunning performance of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 13, Opus 27, No. 1 in E-flat, “Sonata quasi una fantasia.” It’s the lesser heard sibling of Sonata No. 14, Opus 27, in C-sharp minor, more famously known as the “Moonlight Sonata.” It was equal parts tender and passionate, which sounds about right for a composer who was falling in love. Continuing on the romantic theme, he played Schumann’s Romance No. 2 in F-sharp, Opus 28. Moutouzkine said he has a particular affinity for the composer. Yes, he loves the music, but even better, they share a birthday.
Moutouzkine played his own transcription of three pieces from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” which presented the challenge of preserving not only the music but the sense of it while converting a piece written for an orchestra of 100 for just the piano. (And I would like to know how he notated the foot stomps that served as percussive punctuation, a first for me at a piano concert. I really liked it.)
Then he played another of his own arrangements, Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s “Adiós, Nonino,” the composer’s bittersweet farewell to his father. Moutouzkine finished his program with six of the most beautiful etudes, or exercises, ever written for piano students, written by the master, Frédéric Chopin. (When I was studying, my mom, Kathy Butler, insisted my teacher use those instead of the simple scales many students start with because she loved them so much. They never sounded anything like Moutouzkine’s versions when I was playing, but now I understand her passion.)
After the second standing ovation – the first was for the Stravinsky – he graced the stage for a short encore. He played Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s “Mazurka Glissando,” which he had learned for a recital in Cuba. Wowsers.
Now the good news, bad news. Executive Director Angie Beach tells me the first orchestral concert on Saturday, which features Reichert, is sold out, as is the chamber concert at St. Columba Catholic Church on July 29. You snooze, you lose when it comes to some of these highly anticipated concerts. (It’s good news for Music in the Mountains, bad news for music-loving procrastinators.)
There are still two-and-a-half weeks of all kinds of music to come. If you don’t want to get your own bad news because you put off buying your tickets until the last minute, visit www.musicinthemountains.com, call the festival office at 385-6820 or stop by the festival offices at 1063 Main Ave.
See you at the festival.
Nature’s putting on lightning shows for the birthdays of Nancy Van Mols, Ginny Brown, Naomi Beans, Maria Kolter, Joyce Wood, Phillip Kolter, Jeff Haspel, Charlie Arbaugh, Carmen Foreman, Mike Dalenberg, Frank Priest, Duane Danielson, Ken Hartlein, Abigail Lowe, Charlie Mickel, Clark Lagow, J.C. Ellingson-Condie, Bonnie Jung, Freddie Mickel, Michael Meyer, Patricia Padilla, Lee Dalenberg, Nancy Van Dover, Ed Cotgageorge, Kristina Johnson, Colton Cheese, Shanna Stordahl, BJo Hatten, Robin Goldman, Kristin Markley, Jill Nelson, Jerry Sheldon, Debby Morgan, Bee Atwood, Donna Chase, Richard Imig and Cissy Anderson.
Have you, perchance, begun to run out of reading material for those lazy summer days in a hammock? Are you a fellow bibliophile who has a list of books you want to read a mile long, but you’re on a budget? Do you love the whole process of browsing and discovering books you never heard of but now absolutely have to read?
If you answered yes to any of those questions or are just looking for a few good reads, the Friends of the Library book sale this weekend is the solution to your dilemma. It will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the program rooms at the Durango Public Library, 1900 East Third Ave.
The sale includes all types of books and audio/visual items as well. Many of the books are sold by the pound, which sounded a little sacrilegious to dedicated book lovers like me at first, until I got two big boxes of books for about $20. Now I’m a convert.
I don’t write about the Friends often enough, and they do so much.
In just the last two years, they have pumped more than $80,000 into the library, including big investments for youth programming ($15,000), the Literary Festival ($21,000), business programming, the USA database and workshops ($11,000), an audiobooks database ($8,000), early literacy stations ($7,500) and the digitization of the full run of The Durango Herald ($10,000).
They also gave funds to support library services for the homebound, for some of the murals that beautify the library, library supplies beyond what the city can afford in the budget and appreciation for staff. Oh yeah, and they also paid for half of the costs to get the American Library Association to designate Room 222 at the Strater Hotel in honor of Louis L’Amour.
If you have enjoyed the Durango Public Library and any of its programs, then these Friends are your friends, too.
But the giving goes on. The group has also made post-sale book donations to other good causes. Manna Soup Kitchen, the women’s literacy and GED program at the La Plata County jail, Blue Star Moms, the Mancos Library, Volunteers of America, Teec Nos Pas, Arizona, to start a new library, the Battle Rock School in McElmo Canyon and the Colorado Library Consortium.
The Friends accept book donations at the front desk of the library whenever the library is open. But it’s important to only donate books you think they can sell, not just use them as a dumping ground for textbooks that are 20 (or 40) years out of date, boxes of old magazines or a box pulled from the attic that has bugs mixed in with the books. This isn’t about getting rid of your stuff but about supporting the library.
I know from personal library culling experience how hard it is for a book lover to actually toss a book, but if you don’t, the Friends have to pay to dispose of them, and that costs money they could have used to support the library.
Thanks to Friends President Nancy Peake for keeping me up to date on the group’s activities.
Jean-Pierre and Rebecca Bléger and their family were still proudly waving the red, white and blue on Monday, but this time it was for Bastille Day, France’s version of the Fourth of July, and their annual blow-out party.
It’s hard to keep track of how many people attend this party, because it’s an endless ebb and flow of people stopping by for a glass of champagne, some to-die-for goodies and the chance to say, “Vive la France!” (Rebecca Bléger estimated 200, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was closer to 300.)
The menu always includes a spread of French cheeses, other appetizers such as divine escargots in garlic butter baked in puff pastry and this year, a wide array of macarons.
If you’ve never had one, they’re a delicate – and sinful – confection of meringue with buttercream or ganache filling. Almond, coffee, chocolate, raspberry and lemon flavors were all on offer at the Blégers, and it’s good news that they also offer them at their bakery downtown, because one (or two or three) leads to a craving for more.
It’s only 363 days until next year’s fête, so I’ll wish the ex-pats and the Francophiles among us another year of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” and go to bed dreaming of escargots, macarons and the fireworks I once saw bursting over Lake Geneva from the French side at my first Bastille Day when I was a college student.
I took last week off, but I couldn’t miss Judith Reynolds’ lecture about Mabel Dodge Luhan on July 9 in the Lyceum at the Center of Southwest Studies as part of its summer lecture series. She had a packed house of more than 120 people.
Actually Mabel Ganson Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan, she was perhaps best known in the Southwest for her art activities in Taos, New Mexico. (And yes, it’s spelled Luhan. She made her fourth – and longest lasting – husband change it from Lujan because her friends from New York had such a hard time pronouncing it.)
Born in the Victorian era (1879), Dodge Luhan became a thoroughly modern arts patron in the first half of the 20th century. I think many people know she introduced perhaps the most iconic Southwestern artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, to the region, but they may not know she was born wealthy and entitled, moving to Taos in part because she was bored and restless, in part because a letter from her husband said she could bridge the gap between West and Native American cultures (a utopian dream), and in part because a psychic predicted it. Wow.
I have to say she was a fascinating, if not admirable, person, and I’m thankful Reynolds so enjoys the scholarship it takes to put something like this together. I would probably never read The Suppressed Memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan: Sex, Syphilis and Psychoanalysis in the Making of Modern Culture, but it’s sure nice to have the essence condensed.
Gardens are in bloom, and we finally have some moisture for the anniversaries of Larry and Margaret Hjermstad, Don and Laura Yale, Jim and Julie Williams, Steve and Debbie Williams, Jon and Stephanie Lowe, Josh and Sue Magyar, Peter and Kelly Cunnion, Jerry and Joyce Woods, James and Tina Marie Trump, Brad and Susan Stamets, Tony and Nancy Stohl and Arnold and Violet Trujillo.
Here’s how to reach me: email@example.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.