Taking place late-July through mid-August each summer, the Breckenridge Music Festival features a resident ensemble of 45 professional musicians who offer orchestral and chamber music experiences throughout Breckenridge. Under the leadership of Artistic Director & Conductor Steven Schick, performances range from traditional to contemporary classical and include multidisciplinary arts collaborations with local and regional arts organizations.
2019 Festival: Songs & Dances
From Artistic Director & Conductor Steven Schick
I spent my teenage years working on our family farm and playing in local rock and country bands. At gigs in rough and tumble watering holes, more than one boozy patron informed me in highly assured terms that there were just two kinds of music: country and western. However, I was working on my own musical catechism, in which the two kinds of music were songs and dances. It seemed to me that some music had a message—they were the songs— and some inspired movement, obviously the dances. In my band, embarrassingly called “Tenderness,” the songs were intimate, poetic and incantatory. Dances were kinetic, contagious, energetic. In my heyday, looking out from behind the drum kit, Patsy Cline’s I Fall to Pieces was cause for misty-eyed reflection over a glass of whiskey, while Roger Miller’s King of the Road had everybody out in the mid-60’s version of the Cowboy Boogie. Some rare songs were both—listen to Ring of Fire, or practically anything that Johnny Cash sang, for real synergy.
“Tenderness,” mercifully, is a thing of the past, but “Songs and Dances” as a musical taxonomy has stuck with me. This summer, in the high mountains of Summit Country not the flatlands of northern Iowa, we’ll offer our own version of singing and dancing. In each concert we’ll pair pieces of music inspired by song with music that is indebted to dance. Sometimes there will be actual singing and dancing—see our opening Frank Sinatra tribute concert or our ongoing collaboration with Vail Dance Festival, respectively, as examples. Sometimes, the connections are metaphorical: the sweet song of a Beethoven slow movement or the Magyar dance party in the second movement of Bartók’s Violin Concerto No.1. We’ll have the affecting melodies of Luciano Berio’s masterful Folk Songs and the ultimate dance of planetary orbits in Missy Mazzoli’s Orbiting Spheres and, as a companion, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony. Our plan is that you’ll leave the Riverwalk Center after every concert buoyed by melody and swept along by motion.
Building on the successes of last summer we are streamlining our season into a cohesive three-week festival format of chamber music, traditional and popular orchestra concerts and music paired yoga and meditation. And of course, we offer concerts of popular music and other social activities on a year-round basis.
To the successes of the past we’ll add a couple of new twists.
America was built on song, and brothers John and Alan Lomax captured much of it—from the blues to the Bayou—in early recordings that documented and preserved our folk heritage. In one of my favorite concerts of the season, we ask Jayme Stone to join us with composer-in-residence Max Wolpert in a spectacular collaborative concert that will include Jayme, his band Folklife, and the Festival Orchestra in Max’s orchestral renditions of the most exciting and poignant of the Lomax recordings. And, with storytelling in mind, we’re creating a new series—free and open to the public—called “Tiny Porches,” that combines local lore with musical performance, all presented on the beautiful (and sometimes tiny) porches of historical Breckenridge homes. You can expect tall tales, short pieces, and a bucket of beer.
Whether you come for the singing or the dancing, stay for the excitement of great music played by the extraordinary musicians of the BMF. See you in the mountains!