Enjoy mountain melodies of Aspen Music Festival

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QUICKREAD

Expert pick

It may come as no surprise that one of Aspen Music Festival spokeswoman Laura Smith’s favorite things to do in Aspen, and to recommend to others, has to do with the festival.

As a mother of two small children, she likes to take them on a Friday or Sunday to 9:30 a.m. orchestra dress rehearsals at the Benedict Music Tent.

Tickets are just $15, muffins and lemonade are for sale, and there are nearby fields where the kids can run around.

Smith then takes them to downtown Aspen, where a fountain with water spraying in unpredictable patterns from beneath a ground-level grate delights children who sprint over it, invariably getting wet.

A playground is nearby at Wagner Park, there are lots of places to get pizza or a sandwich or an ice cream cone, and often students of the Aspen Music Festival and School are playing for tips on street corners.

“It’s a nice summer day,” Smith said.

Expert pick

It may come as no surprise that one of Aspen Music Festival spokeswoman Laura Smith’s favorite things to do in Aspen, and to recommend to others, has to do with the festival.

As a mother of two small children, she likes to take them on a Friday or Sunday to 9:30 a.m. orchestra dress rehearsals at the Benedict Music Tent.

Tickets are just $15, muffins and lemonade are for sale, and there are nearby fields where the kids can run around. Smith then takes them to downtown Aspen, where a fountain with water spraying in unpredictable patterns from beneath a ground-level grate delights children who sprint over it, invariably getting wet.

A playground is nearby at Wagner Park, there are lots of places to get pizza or a sandwich or an ice cream cone, and often students of the Aspen Music Festival and School are playing for tips on street corners.

“It’s a nice summer day,” Smith said.



The spring melt-out of Aspen’s world-renowned ski runs isn’t entirely bad news for residents of this resort town.

After all, it means the start of the world-renowned Aspen Music Festival and School is just around the corner, offering music to match Aspen’s mountains.

The festival, with a history dating back more than 60 years, kicks off its eight-week 2012 summer season June 28. It draws more than 600 talented students and 130 artists/faculty, and offers more than 320 events. Invited guest artists this year include such top talents as violinists Joshua Bell (a music school alumnus) and Gil Shaham, pianists Yefim Bronfman and Vladimir Feltsman and bassist Edgar Meyer, to name just a few.

And what makes this summer tradition even more attractive is that there is no cost for about a quarter of its events. Lawn seating at the Benedict Music Tent, the site of many of the major performances of the summer, is free, although you’ll need to get up off your blanket and head to the front of the lawn if you want to peer into the hall and be able to watch as well as listen, said Laura Smith, the festival’s director of marketing and public relations. Several concerts a week are free. A locals’ favorite is each Tuesday at 4 p.m. when the orchestra used to train young conductors performs a concert, Smith said.

Some other events will cost less than the price of gas for a roundtrip drive from Grand Junction, such as the $25 orchestral concerts Wednesdays at 6 p.m., and opera — a rarity in Colorado, Smith said.

And classical music fans might be tempted to spend more for some of the main attractions of the summer, including appearances by leading musicians on tours that include such prominent stops as Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“We get to live out here in the beauty of the mountains and the mesas and this is music people would go to New York City to see, they would go to Paris to see, and yet it comes here to us in the summer,” Smith said.

Information on the festival can be found at http://www.aspenmusicfestival.com.

Attending the festival from Mesa County most likely will take up much of the day. But if you have time, or the inclination to stay overnight (mid-week rates are best) or come back on another day, some other top summer attractions you might want to check out in the Aspen area include:

■ The photogenic Maroon Bells, twin 14,000-foot peaks. Due to high visitation, most summer access is restricted to bus or bike. There’s plenty of hiking to be had there once you arrive. For information, go to http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/rangerdistricts/aspen_sopris.

■ A drive (or lung-testing bicycle ride) up state Highway 82 to Independence Pass and the Continental Divide, at more than 12,000 feet in elevation. It’s a great place to enjoy tiny wildflowers and big views.

■ A trip up Aspen Mountain via the Silver Queen Gondola. On top there’s dining, hiking and more, including free Aspen Music Festival performances on Saturdays at 1 p.m.

For information, go to http://www.aspensnowmass.com/summer-recreation/gondola-and-lift-rides.

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