The WFMT Radio Network

WFMT Radio Network

Aspen Music Festival - Harris Hall 20th Anniversary

Genre: Classical Music
Length: 59 minutes
Frequency: Special
DELIVERY TYPE: ContentDepot File transfer and CD
Optional Breaks: One
Hosts: Kerry Frumkin
Producer: Louise Frank

The Aspen Music Festival and School recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its intimate recital venue, the Joan and Irving Harris Concert Hall. In this one-hour musical profile, the WFMT Radio Network presents selections from their gala concert recorded in August 2013.

In 1949, Elizabeth and Walter Paepcke produced the Goethe Bicentennial Convocation and Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado, planting the seeds for a musical life that still flourishes today. Since its earliest days, one of the signature experiences at the Aspen Music Festival has been to attend concerts at the big music tent, sitting outdoors listening to sublime music while also hearing the rustling of aspen trees and the calls of magpies, as well as the occasional barking dog, passing airplane or thunderstorm. As the Festival matured into its fourth decade, it became clear that the time had come for a more intimate, acoustically superior home where audiences and musicians could enjoy chamber music and more.

Since opening its doors in 1993, the Joan and Irving Harris Concert Hall has provided the AMFS with a state-of-the-art, 500-seat jewel box facility for year-round concerts, master classes and recording projects. Aspen architect Harry Teague provided the design, and twenty years on, Harris Hall is poised to continue as a premier venue for decades to come. The Aspen Music Festival and School is an international destination for classical musicians, music students, and music lovers, presenting over 300 musical events during its eight-week summer season, and drawing top classical musicians from around the world for an unparalleled combination of performances and music education.

In August 2013, the Festival celebrated the 20th anniversary of Harris Hall with a special concert featuring AMFS students, alumni and artist faculty, including violinist Robert McDuffie, guitarist Sharon Isbin, and conductor Joshua Weilerstein. This one-hour profile is filled with great music from that event, sounds which echo the repertoire of the 1993 inaugural gala concert and reflect the composers’ and performers’ experiences at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Joan Tower wrote the Fifth Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman in 1993 on a commission from the Aspen Music Festival for the opening of the Joan and Irving Harris Concert Hall, and dedicated it to Joan Harris.

2013 marked the 20th anniversary of Troubadours, which John Corigliano composed especially for guitarist Sharon Isbin, both of whom have spent alpine summers at the AMFS. Sharon Isbin performs with an ensemble of Festival musicians, under the direction of alum Joshua Weilerstein.

Violinist Robert McDuffie and composer Philip Glass both studied at Aspen, although some years apart. When McDuffie envisioned a violin concerto that would serve as a companion piece to the Vivaldi “Four Seasons” concertos, he turned to Glass, encouraging the composer to stay true to his own musical language. Robert McDuffie premiered American Four Seasons in 2009, with the Music Festival participating in the co-commission, and is the soloist in this energetic performance.

A fourth selection representing the core chamber repertoire, and coming from the Festival’s rich archive of Harris Hall concert recordings, remains to be selected.

WFMT's Kerry Frumkin hosts the program with commentary by many of the principals involved, including composer Joan Tower, guitarist Sharon Isbin, violinist Robert McDuffie, AMFS president Alan Fletcher, Joan Harris, and others.

The Aspen Music Festival – Harris Concert Hall 20th Anniversary radio special is available for free to all stations for broadcast twice between May 4, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

For more information please contact:
Tony Macaluso at 773-279-2114, email,, Estlin Usher at 773-279-2027, e-mail, or David Sims at 773-279-2027, email,