There Are Nearly as Many Cultural Options in Aspen as Aspen Trees!
ASPEN, Colo. (Jan. 2018) – The small town of Aspen happens to have the second highest number of college graduates per capita in the United States. Aspen is also one of the most culturally rich towns in the U.S., offering visitors and locals unfettered access to new art exhibits, performances, music, and artists each summer season.
The cultural heart and soul of Aspen emerged more than 60 years ago when Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife, Elizabeth, invited intellectuals, artists, and philosophers to convene in Aspen for the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, an organization established in the wake of the 1949 festival honoring the Aspen Institute, Aspen Music Festival and School, the International Design Conference (also known as the Aspen Design Summit), and the Aspen Center for Physics birthday of humanist Johann van Goethe. The festival was a great success and put the former mining town on the map of America’s intellectual communities. It also spawned the current Aspen Ideas Festival, held each summer in Aspen.
Today, arts and culture are an integral part of our dynamic community, making Aspen a haven for nurturing mind, body, and spirit. The following are some examples of Aspen’s elevated cultural offerings.
Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) will celebrate its 70th anniversary this summer, June 28 – Aug. 29, 2018. The eight-week summer season includes more than 400 classical music events—including concerts by orchestras, solo and chamber music performances, master classes, lectures, and children’s programming. The Aspen Music Festival and School’s 2018 season will be a summer of celebration focused around Paris, City of Light. Concerts throughout the season will allow patrons to delve into works by Parisian composers and inspired by the French capital. This season also marks the 25th anniversary of Harris Concert Hall. Many students also hold impromptu concerts in the streets of Aspen. (www.aspenmusicfestival.com)
• Aspen Opera Theater Center, part of Aspen Music Festival and School, offers intensive educational programs for opera singers and coaches, culminating in three fully staged productions at the Wheeler Opera House.
• JAS Aspen Snowmass’ June Festival includes four nights of concerts from musicians at the Benedict Music Tent (June 22-30, with a lineup including Lyle Lovett, Leslie Odom Jr, Paa Kow, and more. The incredibly popular open-air Labor Day Experience returns to Snowmass Aug. 31- Sept. 2, bringing big names to the stunning alfresco summer setting including Jack Johnson, Lionel Richie, Zac Brown Band, and more. JAS also hosts JAS Café shows, a series of summer and winter jazz performances taking place downstairs at The Little Nell, at the Cooking School of Aspen and on the rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum. The series features top jazz artists from around the world in an intimate nightclub setting. (www.jazzaspensnowmass.org)
• The lineups at Belly Up Aspen, an intimate 450-person music club, and the Wheeler Opera House, Aspen’s historic theater and stage, are ever-changing but always entertaining. Belly Up has featured musical talents such as Widespread Panic, The Flaming Lips, Jane's Addiction, The Raconteurs, Ben Harper, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Bassnectar, and Snoop Dogg. The Wheeler Opera House presents its own festivals, live music, stand-up comedy, and other performances. Expect big names in unforgettable settings at both locations. (www.bellyupaspen.com, 970.544.9800; www.wheeleroperahouse.com, 970.920.5770)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
• Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has become nationally recognized for its repertoire of contemporary-meets-classical choreography, forward-thinking directors, and skilled dancers. The company performs in Aspen, in Santa Fe, and on national and international tours, and the summer Aspen Dance Festival presents performances by internationally renowned dance companies in July and August. (www.aspensantafeballet.com; 970.925.7175)
• Theatre Aspen has received national acclaim and performs a rotating schedule of productions for both adults and families. The summer stock theater performs under a tent in Rio Grande Park. Theatre Aspen is celebrating its 35th anniversary this summer with Ragtime, Godspell and Our Town from June 23 – Aug. 18. (www.theateraspen.org; 970.925.9313)
• Aspen Film, a nonprofit, year-round organization, presents festivals, film series, and youth programs. Its motto, “Independent by Nature,” is imbued in its trademark event, Aspen Filmfest, which celebrates the independent and innovative filmmakers of past and present. Autumn’s golden leaves combine with the silver screen every October when film lovers have a chance to sneak peek the best films in a variety of genres without the Hollywood hype, velvet ropes, or paparazzi. The springtime Aspen Shortsfest is considered one of North America’s premier short film and video festivals (April), and the wintertime Aspen Academy Screenings add celluloid excitement to Aspen’s holiday season with a whirlwind slate of the year’s most talked about films (December). (www.aspenfilm.org; 970.925.6882)
ART FOR ALL
• Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a nonprofit, year-round organization serving the personal and professional development of amateur and professional artists through workshops, artist residencies, exhibitions, tours, lectures, and community outreach programs for artists of all skill levels. The artists-in-residence and faculty are distinguished professionals in a wide variety of fields, from printmaking to digital art, and it all takes place on a historic five-acre Snowmass ranch that’s been transformed into a serene, inspirational campus. (www.andersonranch.org; 970.923.3181)
- Aspen Art Museum is a “kunsthalle,” a non-collecting institution home to contemporary exhibitions and aimed at the promotion of free art with complimentary admission. In late summer 2014, AAM moved to its new, 30,000-square-foot museum in downtown Aspen designed by Japanese architect and humanitarian Shigeru Ban. The new building includes 12,500 square feet of exhibition space, educational spaces, a bookstore and shop, and So Café located on the rooftop with unprecedented views of Aspen Mountain and Independence Pass. (www.aspenartmuseum.org; 970.925.8050)
- Galleries: Aspen’s art galleries punctuate downtown streets, inviting passersby to browse their diverse collections. Baldwin Gallery, a sleek, open space, showcases works by some of the most acclaimed contemporary artists in the business such as Louise Nevelson, David LaChapelle, Ewan Gibbs, Todd Hido, James Rosenquist and Jennifer Bartlett. Galerie Maximillian and Forré Fine Art are Aspen’s homes for the great modern masters including Picasso and Chagall. Elliott Yeary Gallery hosts the work of fine 19th and 20th century European and American masters as well as contemporary paintings and sculpture. On Cooper Ave., LIVASPENART showcases the diverse talents of emerging local artists from the Roaring Fork Valley. Marianna Boesky Gallery opened a space in Aspen in March 2017 with a show of new and recent work by Frank Stella and Larry Bell. The new gallery, designed by Selldorf Architects alongside local firm David Johnson Architects will stage various exhibitions during peak seasons, and offer a residency program in the shoulder season. (110 S. Spring St.)
DON YOUR THINKING CAP
• The Aspen Institute aims to foster values-based leadership and encourages individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society. Through its seminars, leadership programs, public policy work, and conferences and events, the Aspen Institute provides a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. Its centerpiece event is the Aspen Ideas Festival (June 21 – June 30, 2018), offering an array of lectures, presentations, debates, and panel discussions by leading thinkers who span a vast range of critical topics, from the economy to the environment and science to the arts. Divided into three sessions or “tracks,” attendees hear from inspired and provocative writers, public officials, artists, scientists, business executives, scholars, economists, foreign policy specialists, entrepreneurs, and leaders of diverse fields from across the country and around the world. (www.aspeninstitute.org; 970.544.7960)
• Serving readers and writers since 1976, Aspen Words is Colorado's oldest nonprofit literary center and has established itself among the country's foremost promoters of the literary arts. Its programs are corner stoned by annual Aspen Summer Words June 17 – 22, a celebration of words and ideas featuring two complementary components: an intensive writing retreat held in the mornings and a stimulating literary festival in the afternoons and evenings. (www.aspenwriters.org; 970.925.3122)
• In 1962, the Aspen Center for Physics was created to provide a neutral forum to discuss rising concerns about the impact of technological discoveries to the public. Away from the responsibilities of scientists’ day-to-day projects, with Aspen’s serene mountain landscapes as a backdrop, the Aspen Center for Physics hosts more than 500 physicists selected from a pool of 900 applicants, representing 100 different institutions during its 16-week summer session (mid May – mid Sept.). In addition to serious collaborations and discussions between attending physicists, the public is treated to free lectures throughout the summer. (www.aspenphys.org; 970.925.2585)
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For visitor information, visit www.aspenchamber.org, or call 1.888.290.1324 or 970.925.1940.