5 Best Aspen Music Festival & School Events for Families

The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) is one of the world’s premier classical music festivals, bringing together superstar artists and emerging young artists from the most prestigious orchestras and conservatories in the world for more than 400 events in 8 weeks. This year, our 2017 season runs from June 29 through August 20. This week's guest blog comes from AMFS associates Laura Smith, Jessica Cabe and Tamara Vallejos.

Through our exciting combination of performance and education, the AMFS is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of professional classical musicians—as well as the next generation of classical music fans. We aim to do that each summer by providing family-friendly programming that is not only fun for all ages, but also free!


1. Kids Notes and Family Concerts (all ages – Kids Notes activities best for ages seven and younger; with an adult)

Most AMFS concerts are recommended for ages six and up, but we still believe all people—including the littlest ones—deserve to experience the joy of music. That’s where our Kids Notes and Family Concerts come in.

Family Concerts are lively, short concerts that will introduce kids to the world of classical music. This summer, they’ll take place at 5 pm at Harris Concert Hall on July 20 and August 17.

The first concert features Bernard Rogers’s Musicians of Bremen, a piece that tells the story of an old donkey who decides to run away to Bremen-town where he will earn his living as a musician. The second concert features Benjamin Wallfisch’s Dirty Beasts for narrator and orchestra, based on the Roald Dahl collection of poems about mischievous and mysterious animals.

And make sure to come by the Meadows Hospitality Tent at 4 pm before each concert for Kids Notes, best for ages seven and younger. This pre-concert reception features snacks and activities that prepare children for the concert they’re about to see.

2. Music on the Mountain (all ages)

Music on the Mountain is a weekly event that combines the beauty of Aspen scenery with the fun of classical music. Every Saturday at 1 pm (starting July 8 and ending August 12), purchase a ticket to ride the gondola—or opt for a stunning but strenuous hike—to the top of Aspen Mountain, and enjoy performances of spirited chamber music by AMFS students with the awe-inspiring Elk Mountain Range as a backdrop.

This casual environment is ideal for a family gathering, especially if you want to ease your kids (or yourself!) into classical music. For an extra special experience, pack a picnic (or purchase lunch at the Sundeck restaurant).


3. Gotta Move! (ages five and younger with an adult)

If you think your child might be more interested in making music than just listening to it, Gotta Move! is the perfect series for you. Modeled on “Music Together,” children sing, move, and play instruments, developing their curiosity about music in a fun, multi-age environment. Gotta Move! takes place in the Meadows Hospitality Tent, with easy and free parking in the Benedict Music Tent/Harris Concert Hall lot. These events take place at 10:30 am on July 10 and 24 and August 7.

4. Tunes & Tales (ages nine and younger with an adult)

Add a little music to your child’s story time with this fun series. In collaboration with the children’s librarians, kids are treated to enchanting stories blended with music performed by AMFS students. Check out the events at Aspen’s Pitkin County Library every Thursday (starting July 13 and ending August 10) at 10:30 am, or at Basalt Regional Library every Tuesday (starting July 11 and ending August 1) at 10:30 am.


5. Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra (ages three and older with an adult welcome; recommended for ages six and older with an adult)

If you’re interested in easing your children into the traditional orchestra concert experience, free afternoon performances by the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra are a perfect choice. Hear masterworks and see the bright AMFS students enrolled in our Aspen Conducting Academy lead the orchestra at this popular event.

These student conductors take turns leading each movement of a piece. Breaking up long works in this way makes these concerts the perfect event for antsier young ones who may not be ready to sit silently for long periods of time. 

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Category: Arts & Culture / Travel Tips