Boulder’s premier celebration of classical and symphonic offerings, the Colorado Music Festival, returns to Chautauqua Auditorium this month. The long-running event, which was founded in 1976, has drawn locals and visitors alike to revel in dramatic and haunting performances by top classical music talent.
“Anyone who enjoys music of any genre would appreciate the incredible talent on display – which is only enhanced by the acoustic wonder of the Chautauqua Auditorium,” said Elizabeth McGuire, executive director of the Colorado Music Festival. “Once you experience it, you’re hooked. And it’s a quick and fleeting experience. You must catch it before it leaves for another year. There is something very compelling about this.
CMF 2022 promises six weeks of live concerts, pre-concert talks and more.
“What brought me to the festival, initially, was the full festival orchestra,” McGuire said. “This year, as a former horn player, I am particularly looking forward to Mahler’s ‘Fifth Symphony’, as it showcases our incredible horn section.
This year, the CMF also welcomes the famous composer John Adams, a creator recognized for his operas, many of which are inspired by historical events.
His first opera, “Nixon in China,” was based on the former president’s trip to the Republic of China in 1972. In the work, Adams augmented the orchestra with a large saxophone section, additional percussion, and a electronic synthesizer.
In her 2017 opera “Girls of the Golden West,” Adams was inspired by the California gold rush and the mid-19th century letters of Louise Clappe – a woman who lived in the mining town of Rich Bar – for inspiration.
“I also have to admit that I was a little impressed with John Adams, our composer-in-residence,” McGuire said. “I’ve been a fan of his music since I was a teenager. I’m honored to be able to work with him and excited to hear some of the music he and our Music Director Peter Oundjian have selected for our “Music Today” week. Much of it will be completely new to me.
“Absolute Jest” – an Adams concerto – brilliantly weaves Beethoven’s music with original Adams material. “Absolute Jest” will open the festival at 7:30 p.m. on June 30 with the Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet joining the full CMF Orchestra.
“Performing ‘Absolute Jest’ with Peter Oundjian and the CMF Orchestra will be an amazing way to start the festival,” said Harumi Rhodes, violinist of the Takács Quartet. “It’s the perfect vehicle to bring everyone together. It celebrates the music of the past with new beats and an invitation for all who listen to it to participate.
People can look forward to another performance of “Absolute Jest” at 6:30 p.m. on July 1.
Rhodes also teaches violin at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which has been the home of the Takács Quartet for more than three decades.
As a member of the incredible string orchestra, Rhodes travels to exotic tourist destinations and connects with music lovers around the world.
“One of the things I love most about a string quartet is the daily process of having serious fun – the idea that music can create a playful, experimental space to riff on new and old ideas with a spirit of invention and variation,” Rhodes said.
On July 5, the Takács Quartet will open the CMF’s 2022 Robert Mann Chamber Music Series — now in its second year — at 7:30 p.m.
One aspect that always attracts the FMC is the variety of programming. There are options that will appeal to classical music purists and those looking for something a little funkier with their strings and horns.
Portland, Oregon-based vaudeville group Really Inventive Stuff will return to CMF with a family-friendly show “Tubby the Tuba.” Tickets for this kid-friendly show, which begins at 11 a.m. on July 3, are $10.
On July 31, CMF attendees can experience one of Shakespeare’s finest works with a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” including a dramatic reading by actor John de Lancie, who starred in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.
In 2020, CMF went the virtual route, bringing people pre-recorded concerts by award-winning musicians. After a pandemic setback, McGuire is thrilled to once again play a part in bringing live music back to one of the region’s favorite venues with a bigger orchestra than the one that played at CMF 2021.
“A lot of what I find rewarding is witnessing the impact music has on audiences and musicians alike,” McGuire said. “It is both a deeply personal and shared experience that I greatly appreciate. This is what drives my work.
The 2022 festival features 13 guest artists, three internationally renowned string quartets and four guest conductors.
On July 15, the second offering of a Kaleidoscope concert – a performance that combines lighting, cinematography and a dash of stage magic – will bring “Road Movies”, a composition by John Adams, to life.
“I’m proud of the innovative programming and caliber of artists we’ve been able to attract more and more of over time,” said McGuire. “I see how the festival is starting to get the international attention it has always deserved.”
The FMC Gala, taking place July 6 at the Boulder JCC, will feature performances by pianist and composer Timo Andres and New World Symphony Festival Fellows. John Adams will also be present. Tickets for this event are $150, which includes food and cocktails.
CMF Music Director Peter Oundjian, who was also named Principal Conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in February 2022, is thrilled to once again take the stage at one of the region’s most beloved landmarks, built in 1898. .
“Feeling the connection with the audience in this stunning auditorium and sharing an extraordinary variety of music with everyone will be truly empowering for everyone,” Oundjian said.
Tickets for the CMF are on sale now at various prices. Most individual tickets for shows range between $25 and $75. A 16-gig package subscription starts at $582.40 and offers discounts across the board.
“Chautauqua is the best place I know both aurally and visually,” Oundjian said. “We have a great orchestra, incredible guest artists and an extremely varied line-up, but we also try to create a welcoming and communicative atmosphere that makes people want to come back again and again.”
To view the full CMF schedule, visit coloradomusicfestival.org/calendar.