Over the past 35 years, dozens of classical music students have taken up residence at Colorado College each June to expand their musical horizons. The community benefits from 35 concerts by the pre-professional musicians and their distinguished faculty.
This month, 54 students from institutions such as The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music will take part in the immersive Colorado College Music Festival, which started Wednesday and runs through June 22. Most are bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral music students. “It’s a very high level of student,” said Susan Grace, music director, artist in residence and member of the CC music faculty. “If you hear the student orchestra play, they will sound like a professional orchestra.”
The 27-member festival faculty come from all over the country as well. “They are chosen because they love to teach and as well are brilliant performers,” said Grace, who became involved in the festival as a faculty member during its inaugural year, 1984, and took it over in 1987.
“It started out as a 10-day festival, and now it’s three weeks, and we’re at a much higher level than before,” said Grace, who also teaches and performs during the festival. She is an acclaimed pianist and was nominated for a Grammy in 2005.
Because everyone lives on campus, they have much interaction and support rather than being highly competitive.
The festival is a favorite with locals, many of whom buy season passes and attend every concert, Grace said. “We have a great fan base and donor base. They all plan their summer vacations around the festival.”
Two “On the Fringe” concerts for nonclassical music fans will be performed.
“(Un)Common (En)Counterpoint” at 6:30 p.m. Friday (free, Cornerstone Arts Center) features a video installation by artist Jessica Segall of people swimming with tigers accompanied by music and dance.
Free Music at Midday performances are at 12:15 p.m. on various dates in Packard Hall. Throughout the festival, ticketed Festival Artists Concerts by faculty ($35 each) run the gamut from popular composers Mozart and Brahms to more rarely performed pieces. Six Outreach Concerts also are in locations such as the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park. For paid performances, fans can buy tickets in advance or at the door.
“I’m really excited by all the diversity of performances. We’re doing a lot of collaborations and outreach concerts,” Grace said. “We play standard works throughout, and we always find new things our audience may have never heard. They are always surprised by what we select — in a good way.”