TELLURIDE – “There is just something about the inspiration you get from the mountains, and the inspiration you get from classical music,” says Telluride Chamber Music Festival board president Warner Paige, who invites music lovers of every caliber to celebrate the commencement of Telluride’s 35th annual Chamber Music Festival during Thursday night’s Town Park Concert and Picnic.
Throughout the last three and a half decades, the Town Park Concert and Picnic has come to epitomize the spirit of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival. “It’s nice and light, and offers the opportunity for the audience to get up close and personal with the performers,” Paige says of the concert, which is free and open to the public. Set at the foot of Telluride’s Box Canyon, Thursday night’s concert provides an idyllic setting where the muses of chamber music share the stage with the majestic San Juans.
The Town Park Concert evolved into the inspiring inauguration of the annual Chamber Music Festival due in part to festival founder and artistic director Roy Malan’s desire to make chamber music accessible to the wider Telluride community. From its unimposing beginning as a single concert of chamber music set in then-sleepy Telluride 35 years ago, the core of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival has been “to reach the people on the streets,” Malan says.
The free concert was instituted during the festival’s early years and has continued to provide a hospitable milieu for chamber music neophytes and aficionados alike. “We want to get people to love chamber music, and often they just need the chance to hear it,” says Malan.
That was the case for at least one Telluride local. Kent Clark, who worked at what was then Rose’s Market, attended one of the early Town Park concerts. Hooked, Malan says Clark didn’t miss another free concert for the next 10 years, as long as he lived in Telluride. “Here was a person who had never heard a note of chamber music before,” Malan recalls. “That, for us, was a real sign that we’re weren’t doing this in vain. Besides, it’s such a great time.”
This year’s concert highlights the talents of local musicians Danny DeSantis, David Homer, David Lingle, Tracy Baize, and Tom White. DeSantis, Homer and Lingle will perform “Bachianus Brasilia”; Lingle and Homer will then join Baize for “Back on Bass” from the play Closer Than Ever. Tom White will play a Bach selection.
Concert goers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to Thursday’s concert; the picnic will begin at 5 p.m. and the music starts around 6 p.m. Chamber Music Festival sponsor Cindy Bread will create special to-go picnic meals for the free concert in Town Park; call the local bakery at 369-1116 for more details.
Thursday’s concert kicks off a series of local concerts that celebrate the Chamber Music Festival’s 35 years in Telluride. Concerts are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 8, Saturday, Aug. 9, Wednesday, Aug. 13, Friday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 16. For more information about this year’s Chamber Music Festival lineup, visit www.telluridechambermusic.org. Tickets are available at www.tellurideticket.com, Telluride Music, at the door prior to each concert, or by calling the Chamber Music office at 728-8686.