Aspen Music Festival and School Hopeful Despite Pandemic

Postpones start of 2020 season by two weeks
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Robert Spano, AMFS music director; James Bass, Seraphic Fire; Duain Wolfe, Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus director; Mané Galoyan, soprano; and Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano, acknowledge the audience in the Benedict Music Tent after their performance on Final Sunday 2019. Photo by Elle Logan.

While the streets and slopes of Aspen are quiet due to the COVID-19-induced “Great Pause,” the Aspen Music Festival and School remains at work (remotely), reconfiguring its eight-week 2020 season into six, moving later in to the summer the unique educational and performance experiences it provides to the world’s most promising classical music students each summer. The Festival announced April 1 that it would delay the start of and shorten its 2020 summer season by two weeks. New season dates are July 16 to August 23.

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Alumnus and violinist Gil Shaham returns to the Aspen Music Festival for a performance with the Aspen Chamber Symphony on July 31, 2020. He will perform the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major. John Storgårds conducts. Photo by Grittani Creative.

AMFS president and CEO Alan Fletcher told students, artist-faculty, friends, and supporters that at nearly four months out from its start date, the Festival had the ability to plan effectively for an abbreviated season while remaining flexible in a dynamic situation. “Our hope is this extra time will make travel more possible, and our belief is that we can, together, still create a superb educational experience and season of performances in this abridged time.” He added that the organization would be actively monitoring developments and following guidance from county and state government and health officials.

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Opera superstar Renée Fleming—pictured during her last performance in the Benedict Music Tent with AMFS Music Director Robert Spano and the Aspen Festival Orchestra on July 3, 2016—returns to Aspen with a dual role in 2020. Her original opening weekend performance with the Aspen Festival Orchestra and Spano has been rescheduled to July 19, 2020, the season’s new, postponed Opening Sunday. The season also marks the inaugural year of the new Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS program, of which she and Patrick Summers are co-artistic directors. Photo by Alex Irvin.

Dual themes of the 2020 season remain “Beethoven’s Revolution,” celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth; and “Uncommon Women of Note,” exploring ambition, desire, and identity through a female lens, and featuring works by, and inspired by, women. The season also marks the inaugural year of the Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS program under co-artistic directors Renée Fleming and Patrick Summers, presenting The Magic Flute, and concert presentations of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath and Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All.

Programs originally scheduled for July 2–15 have been cancelled and adjustments are being made to events within the new, July 16–August 23 dates; consult the AMFS website,, for the latest program updates.

Ticketholders and those with purchased passes have the option to exchange their tickets for later events, donate them, or receive a full refund or 2021 season credit. Call the AMFS box office at 970 925 9042, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, for assistance, or visit

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