It’s been a dismal year for classical music fans.
With the pandemic smooshing live music and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic in the middle of contract disputes, the live sounds of Brahms, Bach and Vivaldi have been but a distant memory.
The 36th annual Colorado College Summer Music Festival is about to change that. The annual event will produce the city’s first live orchestra concerts in more than a year June 15 and 25. They’re free and will be held outdoors in Monument Valley Park, behind the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
Festival conductor Scott Yoo, who also is chief conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic and one of today’s leading violinists, has noticed fans scooping up tickets to concerts like never before.
“People are craving certain experiences they haven’t been able to get in the last year and change,” he said, “and now they feel they can go to a concert and feel safe. People are lining up and want to see live music and hear Beethoven and Mozart and Copland. They realize now they miss it and it’s an important part of their life.”
During the three-week classical music festival, pre-professional music students from across the globe descend on the CC campus to study and perform with some of the best music educators and professional musicians working today. From Sunday through June 25, the program’s 37 fellows, or students, and faculty musicians will perform two festival orchestra concerts, five faculty-performed festival artist concerts and the Music at Midday series.
Festival organizers are still waiting to hear how many audience members will be allowed at indoor concerts, due to capacity limitations. Performances will be livestreamed free on the festival’s Facebook page. Go online to facebook.com/CCSummerMusic.
“It’s a major festival, but sometimes it feels like a hidden gem,” said Yoo, who will celebrate 20 seasons with the festival this summer.
That might be about to change. Yoo also is the host of the PBS classical music TV series “Now Hear This.” The travelogue finds him globe-trotting, as he explores and tells the stories of history’s most famous music and musicians. A crew will be in the Springs to film the last week of the festival for an upcoming episode focused in part on acclaimed American composer Aaron Copland and his training, his attraction to American folk music and the relationship between student and teacher. Production will film in locations around the CC campus, Garden of the Gods and Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.
Copland, who’s best known for his works “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Appalachian Spring,” “Symphony No. 3” and “Clarinet Concerto,” will be featured heavily during this summer’s concerts.
“If Copland never existed, every soundtrack you hear to every movie would sound different,” Yoo said. “It’s just shocking when you hear Copland film music. You think you’re listening to another film composer, but it’s Copland. His DNA is in every composer that came after him.”
2021 CC SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Packard Hall: 5 W. Cache La Poudre St.
Monument Valley Park: behind Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 30 W. Dale St.
• June 10: Festival Artists Concert, works by J.S. Bach, David Dzubay, Gioacchino Rossini, Johannes Brahms, 7:30 p.m., Packard Hall
• June 13: Festival Artists Concert, works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Erwin Schulhoff, Bohuslav Martinu, Carl Maria von Weber, 2:30 p.m., Packard Hall
• June 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25: Music at Midday, 12:15 p.m., location TBD
• June 15: Festival Orchestra Concert, works by Aaron Copland, Sergei Prokofiev, Beethoven, 7 p.m., Monument Valley Park, free
• June 17: Festival Artists Concert, works by Copland, Antonio Vivaldi, Michael Haydn, Dmitry Shostakovich, 7:30 p.m., Packard Hall
• June 21: Festival Artists Concert, works by Copland, William Grant Still, Valerie Coleman, John Stevens, Darius Milhaud, 7:30 p.m., Packard Hall
• June 24: Festival Artists Concert, works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Astor Piazzolla, Jean Françaix, Copland, 7:30 p.m., Packard Hall
• June 25: Festival Orchestra Concert, works by Maurice Ravel, Wolfgang A. Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn, 7 p.m., Monument Valley Park, free