If you’ve ever considered getting tickets to the orchestra, this is the summer to do it. The Breckenridge Musical Festival orchestra has planned its entire 2014 season around selecting a new music director to lead the Breckenridge-based chamber orchestra, making for an orchestral season like no other.
After narrowing a field of 56 applicants down to three finalists, the festival organization invited each of the candidates to serve as guest conductors for a week of this summer’s five-week festival. Audiences are invited to weigh in on the candidate selection, and the new conductor will be announced in the fall.
Boulder native Francesco Lecce-Chong opens the season on July 17, 2014, leading the 45-member orchestra in a lighthearted program organized around the theme of a summer night. There will be familiar pieces by Copland, Mendelssohn, Handel, and Mozart on opening night before the program transitions with Gershwin into pops and jazz standards from “Over the Rainbow” to “A Chorus Line” arranged by guest vocalist Helen Welch.
On July 19, 2014, Lecce-Chong presents what might be considered a more standard classical concert, though the pieces span three centuries and three different styles. The evening features Haydn’s Symphony No. 39; a 20th century work by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera; and Mendelssohn’s well-known “Scottish” symphony. Lecce-Chong strives to design programming united by inventive themes; in this case, the theme that ties the three works together is the fact that each plays to the strengths of a chamber, or smaller sized, orchestra.
Lecce-Chong performed with the National Repertory Orchestra, which is also based in Breckenridge, years ago as a youth piano soloist. The 27-year-old currently serves as associate conductor for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin. He maintains a music blog at findingexhilaration.wordpress.com.
Next up is David Danzmayr, who will lead the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra for the July 31, 2014 and August 2, 2014 concerts. Originally from Austria, Danzmayr is the music director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra in Chicago and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio.
The concerts he programmed for this summer include music spanning three continents, including a spectrum of well-known and more obscure pieces from his own native Austria, liber tangoes by South American composer Astor Piazzolla, and works by modern North American composers including William Bolcom and William Grant Still. Pianist Lisa Smirnova will join him for the August 2 concert.
“There’s a quirky sense of humor in the compositions,” said Marcia Kaufmann, executive director of the Breckenridge Music Festival. “It’s a very personal statement but also incorporates a lot of the elements he enjoys on three continents.”
The third candidate is Rossen Milanov, who will conduct the concerts on August 8 and 9, 2014. The multilingual Milanov was born in Bulgaria and currently serves as music director for the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in Princeton, N.J. and Symphony in C, formerly the Haddonfield Symphony.
On August 8, Milanov will conduct a free family concert, “The Composer is Dead,” featuring Lemony Snicket’s illustrations and story set to music and narrated by Christopher Willard of the Backstage Theatre, in addition to other pieces. The Breckenridge Music Festival offers a free, child-centered, family concert every year, so it will be interesting to see where Milanov takes it.
Milanov is a big fan of Americana, so for the August 9 concert he presents a bevy of works by American composers including Copland’s “Appalachian Spring’ and the Shaker hymn, “‘Tis a Gift to be Simple.” The evening stars Iceland-based soprano Dissela Larusdottir singing Bernstein’s take on a bel canto aria in “Glitter and be Gay” from “Candide” and Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” among others. Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony” concludes the concert.
The 2014 summer programming also includes four concerts led by outgoing conductor Gerhardt Zimmermann, who led the Breckenridge Music Festival orchestra for the past two decades before deciding to step down in August 2013. Among them are “Scottish Fantasy & Schubert” on August 15, 2014 and the festival’s closing night, “Gerhardt’s Favorites,” on August 16, 2014.
If You Go
INFO: Concerts take place at the Riverwalk Center, 150 West Adams Avenue in Breckenridge. Purchase tickets online and find out about additional programming at BreckenridgeMusicFestival.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Riverwalk Center box office from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, or by calling (970) 547-3100.