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One, two and a three — strike up the band

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“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” So spoke the ancient Greek philosopher Plato over 2000 years ago. 

Today, music is firmly ingrained in the Roaring Fork Valley culture with much of the credit going to the Aspen Music Festival and Schoof (AMFS) with important assistance from volunteers. The classical music festival was founded in 1949 by Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke. It’s still a performance magnet attracting people from around the world.

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Meet AMFS volunteer Sylvia Wendrow, who has lived in Missouri Heights for over 20 years and has been involved with the festival’s dinner program since 2008, initially helped by her late husband James D Sturgill, also known as J.D.

“I just enjoy meeting people through the development department and the student services office,” Wendrow said.

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“Music has always been a major part of my life,” Wendrow recalled, “From playing piano and clarinet in local bands, to musical theatre and more recently singing for the past 14 years with the Aspen Choral Society.

Wendrow graduated from the University of Michigan, where she majored in speech language and pathology. As a volunteer, she has been running the student dinner outreach program. This project, Wendrow explained, brings together students and donors who invite them to an evening meal, mostly in their own homes. 

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“Last year,” Wendrow noted, “We organized 16 such get-togethers.”

The COVID-19 pandemic quashed 2020 plans to have live in-person concerts and individual performances. Instead, AMFS organized a not insignificant lineup of virtual performances.

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“We’re so sad it has to be that way,” Woodrow mused but pointed out the many virtual performances already scheduled for the summer season.

AMFS has planned more than 30 concerts in the abbreviated calendar which will be kicked off Saturday, July 4, with the annual holiday concert, at 4 p.m. with Lawrence Isaacson, Aspen Festival Band, Thomas Hooten and Eric McConnell. Events will include fresh, new recitals, teaching insights, panel discussions, seminars and a live tribute to Music Director Robert Spano on the occasion of his 10th year with the AMFS. All online performances are free and are listed on the festival’s website (aspenmusicfestival.com).

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The final virtual performance is set for Sunday, Aug. 23 featuring Augustin Hadelich on violin and piano.

According to Alan Fletcher, president and chief executive officer, Aspen Music Festival and School, “We want to stay in touch with our audiences, faculty, artists and donors.”

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By doing a virtual season, Fletcher explained, “We are also able to reach people who otherwise couldn’t be here — a new audience.”

“We are hoping to break even,” he added, “Plus, we have attracted 100 new donors” through this outreach.

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Artists will live stream their performances from local and distant places including Harris Hall, Aspen, San Diego, Seattle and pre-recorded from Switzerland.

The AMFS ongoing programs for local students will continue with registration for the school year AfterWorks programs (beginning strings, lead guitar and Maroon Bel Canto choirs) will begin in August. Summer information for 2021 and registration for education and community summer programming will be on the website in late winter.

Plus, many local music teachers are now teaching virtually, as are lots of past Passes and Lessons Scholarship programs (P.A.L.S.) teachers (and some students who had been accepted to attend the AMFS this summer and teach within P.A.L.S.).

Private lessons through the festival lessons program will take place on the AMFS Bucksbaum Campus (225 Music School Rd. in Aspen) and begin on or after the start of the 2020 AMFS season on July 16. No teachers will be assigned to students until the AMFS students arrive on campus and are ready to begin teaching (approximately July 13). All lessons need to be completed by 9 p.m. on Aug. 23.

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For details contact Katie Hone Wiltgen, director of education and community programming, at khonewiltgen@aspenmusic.org or call 205-5055.

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