The Aspen Music Festival and School, founded in 1949, is an internationally renowned classical music festival that presents music in an intimate, small-town setting. It is a training ground for young adult musicians.
The Festival and School was founded by intellectuals and visionaries Elizabeth and Walter Paepcke of Chicago and is rooted in the lofty idea that it is the combination of art and nature that fosters the growth of the human spirit. This guiding principle still informs every aspect of the organization. Substantial artistic collaboration was provided by Henri Temianka and his Paganini Quartet during the formative years.
More than 350 classical music events take place in 9 weeks every summer, from June to August, including performances by five on-site orchestras, chamber music, opera, contemporary music, children's events, lectures, and discussions. There are up to 8 events a day and more than 100,000 patrons participate.
For music students, the nine-week program provides a combination of classroom and performance experiences. A broad curriculum includes playing in an orchestra, individual lessons, master classes, and recitals. Seven hundred and fifty young musicians attend the School from throughout the United States and the world. Almost 40 nations are represented, including Australia, China, Iceland, Mexico, Sweden, and Venezuela. The average age is 23.
The master teacher/apprentice relationship, the foundation of music education, finds full expression at the School. Aspen students have the unusual opportunity to perform as orchestra members with some of the world’s finest musicians, under the leadership of world-renowned conductors. Musicians of all ages learn from their instructors not only in the classroom, but also as they perform side-by-side with them in the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Aspen Sinfonia, the Aspen Concert Orchestra, and in chamber music throughout the summer. Conductors also have an opportunity to lead an orchestra in the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.
Alumni of the AMFS fill important professional music positions around the world, performing in top-tier orchestras, opera houses, and teaching on music school faculties. Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, James Conlon, Lynn Harrell, Renée Fleming, James Levine, Cho-Liang Lin, Robert McDuffie, Susanne Mentzer, Itzhak Perlman, Leonard Slatkin, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Philip Glass, Bright Sheng, Augusta Read Thomas, William Bolcom, Dawn Upshaw, and Kalil Wilson are among those whose careers have roots at the Aspen Music Festival and School. The Music Director is conductor David Zinman and the President and CEO is Alan Fletcher.