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Aspen Music Festival and School unveils plan for wide-ranging winter season | Arts & Entertainment

The Aspen Music Festival and School released tickets on Tuesday for its two winter season programs: the 2023 Winter Music series held in Harris Concert Hall and The Met: Live in HD screenings hosted at the Wheeler Opera House.

Both are long-running programs put on by the AMFS, and this winter’s lineup carries broad stylistic diversity across the board — from composers and performers to the storytelling coming to the stage and the screen.

Patrick Chamberlain, vice president for artistic administration at the AMFS, said he views curating the winter programs as a “tremendous responsibility.” Chamberlain stepped into his VP role with the organization in April, and this marks his first time curating the winter series — a process which he said has been fully a team effort.

“We work very closely as a team to think about our audience and what we want the season to say,” Chamberlain said. “We want to bring artists who provoke thought and programs that can be a transformative experience — the artists we have for this season do that.”

Chamberlain went on to discuss the three Winter Music series artists — all of whom he said are “Aspen family members,” noting each of their former AMFS appearances and ongoing relations with the organization.

The series kicks off with a recital by the Pacifica Quartet on Feb. 16. The Grammy Award-winning quartet has been a fixture at the AMFS since its appointment to lead the organization’s Center for Advanced Quartet Studies in 2017.

For its winter recital at Harris Concert Hall, Pacifica Quartet is showcasing a work from their recent Grammy-winning album: Shulamit Ran’s Third String Quartet, “Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory.” The ensemble also will perform Shostakovich’s “Quartet No. 2” and Dvořák’s evocative “American Quartet.”

Chamberlain described the Pacifica Quartet as, “one of the great string quartets of any generation.”

“What I love about them is that there’s nothing routine about the way they make music — every performance is deeply in the moment,” he said.

Two solo pianists follow the quartet in the Winter Music lineup.

On Feb. 23, the young and talented Alexander Malofeev will take the stage at Harris Concert Hall. Only in his early 20s, Malofeev regularly performs with top orchestras around the world, and his AMFS debut performance at the 2022 summer festival had, “the collective jaw of the audience on the floor,” Chamberlain said.

“And so we all thought, how soon can we get him back — the soonest was this winter,” Chamberlain said. “The Aspen Music Festival and School prides itself on finding and introducing young talent before it comes to be world-renowned — that’s how we feel with Alex. I believe he will be one of the next great legends of keyboard.”

Malofeev’s winter recital will feature wide-ranging piano sonatas — including Beethoven’s “Moonlight,” followed by a dynamic sonata from a lesser-known Polish composer, Mieczsław Weinberg, and lastly Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Sonata No. 2.”

To close out the 2023 Winter Music series is a performance on March 16 by AMFS alumna and pianist extraordinaire, Joyce Yang. Wherever she plays, rave reviews follow. For her solo recital in Aspen, she’ll take the audience on a musical journey, playing works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky.

“Joyce is the ideal keyboard artist — there’s nothing she can’t do technically,” Chamberlain said. “But the poetry of her playing is what impresses me, it is dazzling to watch her play.”

In looking at the Winter Music series as a whole, Chamberlain said all three concerts have “something to inspire.”

He then emphasized that while summer is peak season for AMFS, the organization holds a year-round presence in the valley. The Winter Music series both foreshadows and reflects on what the organization offers through its renowned summer festival. The 2023 event’s lineup will be announced on Feb. 14, Chamberlain said.

“Particularly in curating the Winter Music series, we want artists who, if not literally, will figuratively warm you up,” Chamberlain said. “It’s an opportunity to engage with artists who are a part of the Aspen family and bring a bit of the summer magic to folks who are in town in the winter.”

The Met comes to Aspen

In addition to the recitals at Harris Concert Hall is AMFS’s The Met: Live in HD screening series at the Wheeler Opera House. Co-presented by the AMFS and the Wheeler, the three-part program brings HD screenings of selected productions from the Metropolitan Opera’s 2022-23 ­season to Aspen’s historic opera house.

“It’s a chance to see the opera, to see it on the big screen — it’s the next best thing to being in New York and being right there,” Chamberlain said. “And, in some ways, you see the production in such a different lens: With close-ups on the singers, you can really see the emotion in their facial expressions and the details of their costumes.”

The series begins on Feb. 14, with the Met-premiere production of Cherubini’s rarely performed masterpiece, “Medea.” Verdi’s staple opera, “La Traviata,” will follow next, on Feb. 28.

And closing out The Met in HD screenings on March 7 is Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts’ “The Hours,” starring Soprano Renée Fleming — who has many Aspen connections, Chamberlain noted, including her continual appearances and involvement in AMFS.

Tickets to the Met in HD screenings can be purchased through the Wheeler’s box office (aspenshowtix.com). Tickets to the recitals at Harris Concert Hall are available through the AMFS website. For more information, visit aspenmusicfestival.com.


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