Colorado College Summer Music Festival features classical, jazz, bluegrass

By Jen Mulson Updated: June 8, 2018 at 5:34 pm • Published: June 6, 2018 0
photo - Pre-professional musicians from around the world apply to be part of the annual Colorado College Summer Music Festival. Those students study with world-class professional musicians and perform for the public throughout the 3 1/2 week event. Courtesy Colorado College Summer Music Festival.
Pre-professional musicians from around the world apply to be part of the annual Colorado College Summer Music Festival. Those students study with world-class professional musicians and perform for the public throughout the 3 1/2 week event. Courtesy Colorado College Summer Music Festival.

For those not in tune with the city's classical music scene, this annual June festival might fly right under your radar.

Don't let that happen.

The Colorado College Summer Music Festival offers fans of the genre much to feast upon, but this year also will provide treats for those interested in jazz and bluegrass and for families with children on the autism spectrum. Performances begin Thursday and run through June 23.

For 3 1/2 weeks, pre-professional music students from around the globe congregate on the CC campus to learn from and perform with top-notch music educators and professional musicians. This year's faculty musicians include members of the Ying Quartet and American Brass Quintet, the oboist of Imani Winds, the principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the concertmaster of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.

"It's kind of like a finishing school to launch them into careers," said Gina Spiers, assistant director of the festival. "You have the opportunity to not only support young musicians, but you get to see fantastic performances."

Throughout June, the program's 54 fellows, or students, and faculty musicians will perform traditional and contemporary classical music at orchestra and artist concerts, an orchestra children's concert, outreach concerts and free midday concerts over the lunch hour. Out of 29 events, all but nine are free.

The Colorado College Summer Music Festival offers the public traditional and contemporary classical music performances by world-class and pre-professional musicians. It runs Thursday through June 23. Courtesy Colorado College Summer Music Festival. 

To appeal to nonclassical music fans, this year's programming features two "On the Fringe" concerts. Bluegrass musician Sierra Hull, who can name-drop Grammy Award-winning bluegrass star Alison Krauss as her mentor, will perform with brothers Tim and Dennis Crouch, Ronnie Bowman and Keith Reed. "Jazz and the Silent Age" features concert pianist and composer Stephen Prutsman's original jazz scores played live by a quintet to three short silent films from 1912 through 1926.

Prutsman also will be on hand for his Azure Family Concert Series, a sensory-friendly concert experience for families with autistic kids. He and his wife founded the nonprofit Autism Fun Bay Area in 2010 after finding no public summer camps in San Francisco for autistic kids, such as their son, now 17. The 50-minute concerts feature a mix of classical and jazz music and avoid slow-moving, long pieces, preferring to keep works short with breaks for stretching, humor and movement.

It's an environment where families don't have to worry about their child breaking any rules of concert etiquette.

"We have safety precautions," said Prutsman. "We like to have a couple of helpers sit on the stage, so if a kid runs up, you gently redirect them away. All other behaviors are welcome. This event is shush-proof."

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