Aspen Music Festival and School Supports Music Education

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Aspen Mountain and the Maroon Bells, the Aspen Music Festival and School, now in its 67th season, offers a one-of-a-kind classical music experience.

This summer the Festival will host more than 300 classical music events, ranging from performances by five orchestras, to fully staged opera productions, lectures, and music programming.

Some of this season's highlights include a solo performance in the Benedict Music Tent with the Aspen Festival Orchestra by 18-year-old violinist Simone Porter, a recital by Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo, and a semi-staged production of Aida starring an international cast of singers and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus.   

Aside from hosting some of the world’s most distinguished classical musicians, the Festival is also known for the excellence of its school, where top young musicians spend the summer perfecting their art.

In Aspen and the surrounding region, however, the focus on music education is not limited solely to the summer months. Thanks in part to the generosity of private donors, the School has been able to implement a number of music classes and programs for local elementary, middle and high school students. The programs, which extend throughout schools in the Aspen and Roaring Fork school districts, as well as several independent schools in the region, provide opportunities for would-be young musicians. 

These programs came about out of a desire to create a more significant connection between the local schools and the Aspen Music Festival and School. 

“When I first started teaching, I was actually very surprised by how little interaction there was between the school music programs and the Music Festival,” said Katie Hone Wiltgen, Director of Education and Community Programming for Aspen Music Festival and School and former choir and band director at Basalt Middle and High Schools. “There were a couple of smaller-scale things that would happen throughout the school year…but it was not a very sustained music education experience. And that’s really changed in the past few years.” 

The programs, particularly the “AfterWorks” programs, which include Beginning Strings, Lead Guitar, and the Maroon Bel Canto Children’s Chorus, have proved to be extremely popular, not only because they teach music literacy and performance, but also because they fulfill an important need for families in the community.

“Parents need help after-school with kids, and this is a way that we can provide really high quality music education programming, and also help parents with that  challenging after-school time,” Hone Wiltgen explained.

This focus on children’s music education and appreciation carries over into the summer festival with kid specific programming, as well as the P.A.L.S program, which gives musically gifted local students the chance to receive lessons from experienced musicians at the School, as well as special access to Festival concerts and events.

For more information about the Aspen Music Festival and School, including a full calendar of events and education offerings, and to reserve tickets, please visit

Categories: Events