Aspen, Colorado is a Music Lover's Paradise
Listen up. During an Aspen summer, the hills truly are alive with the sounds of music. Music floats into every corner of Aspen life, from the internationally celebrated Bayer Benedict Music Tent of the Aspen Music Festival to the sweet sounds of Janus Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ epic festivals to the jam-packed Double Diamond nightclub and even impromptu street concerts by world-class music students. Back in the 1950s, jazz musicians like Billie Holliday and Freddie Fischer performed regularly in Aspen’s bars and restaurants. The tradition continues today with live music performances at numerous locales on any given evening.
“Aspen is an extraordinary place to encounter great music,” says Aspen Music Festival president Don Roth. “The combination of breathtaking scenery and beautiful venues prepares the listener for a special experience. I know of no other destination resort where the opportunities to encounter the finest musicians in world are more bountiful, more accessible, and more exciting.”
The Aspen Music Festival and School
Music was the passion of Elizabeth Paepcke, who with her husband, Walter, gave the quiet Aspen of the 1940s a cultural makeover. The Aspen Music Festival and School has Mrs. Paepcke to thank in large part for its inspiration. And since then, it has flowered into one of the world’s most important classical music organizations, bringing the world’s best musicians to Aspen to perform throughout the season, and training the next generation of greats at its idyllic Castle Creek Road campus, with over 1,000 attending the Aspen Music School each summer. Alumni include Grammy-award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, famed composer Edgar Meyer, and preeminent conductor James Conlon.
Operating in the spectacular Bayer Benedict Music Tent and Harris Hall (both designed by eminent Aspen architect Harry Teague), the festival offers several performances daily, including master classes, chamber music and symphonic concerts, every day between late June and late August. And although the experience inside the tent is well worth the price of admission, it’s not the only way to take in this cultural giant. Locals like to bring a bottle of wine, snacks, and a blanket, and camp out for free on the lawn just outside the canvas walls—a long-held tradition the festival embraces. (www.aspenmusicfestival.com, 970.925.3254)
A branch of the Aspen Music Festival, operas range from the classics to modern masterpieces and are performed in the elegant Victorian Wheeler Opera House. And to complement its performances, the Opera Theater Center offers another rare treasure: its popular Master Classes, which educate opera buffs and novices alike in the rich, enigmatic genre. (www.aspenmusicfestival.com, 970.925.3254)
Janus Jazz Aspen Snowmass
What began more than 10 years ago as a small jazz festival is now a major establishment in the music world, bringing to town some of the biggest names in a wide variety of genres. Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ June Festival and Labor Day Festival book Aspen’s summer with crowd-pleasing outdoor concerts; last season featured Dr. John, Macy Gray, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson. And it’s much more than a couple days of great music in the sun. Jazz Aspen Snowmass also has an educational arm, the Thelonious Monk Jazz Colony in Snowmass, where modern jazz legends offer rare performances and instruct legends-to-be. Jazz Aspen Snowmass also partners with several local bars and restaurants in town to attract jazz performers to town. (www.jazzaspen.com; 970.920.4996)
Bluegrass Sundays on Aspen Mountain
This tradition-in-the-making combines two of Aspen’s best offerings—stunning scenery and good music—with the mellow vibe of Sunday afternoon in the mountains. Local and touring groups set up outside the Sundeck restaurant on top of Aspen Mountain with a stunning alpine panorama behind them—a backdrop that makes the gondola ride or challenging hike up even more rewarding. (www.aspensnowmass.com; 970.925.1220)
A Little Night Music