2023 Festival Highlights

Some of our favorite moments from our 2023 summer festival

In 2023, Music in the Mountains celebrated our 37th Anniversary Season with four weeks of incredible classical music in the heart of Southwest Colorado!

From the very first opening notes on our mobile stage on July 6th to the final round of applause on July 30th, this year’s Festival was nothing short of spectacular from beginning to end! We welcomed over 80 world-class musicians and soloists from all over the country to perform in and with our Festival Orchestra, presenting a dynamic and incredible range of programming, with everything from free concerts on our mobile stage to unforgettable performances at our mainstage venue, the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Our 2023 Festival was full of inspiring, unparalleled experiences in venues around Durango, Colorado. Read on to relive some of the highlights from our 2023 summer classical music festival!

Kicking Off the Festival Community-Wide: Our Mobile Stage and Free Community Concerts Delight Audiences!

Since its inception in 2021, our Free Community Concert Series on our custom-built mobile stage has been a key part of our summer festivals, and this year was no different! On July 6th, we once again kicked off our Festival with three days of free world-class classical music concerts throughout the region on our custom-built mobile stage!

From July 6th-9th, we hosted nearly a dozen free community concerts on our mobile stage, welcoming thousands of attendees and featuring musicians from our Festival Orchestra performing in our brass ensemble, woodwinds ensemble, and strings ensemble. 

We were excited to once again offer these free concerts in multiple locations around the region, including Durango, Bayfield, Ignacio, Pagosa Springs, and Mancos. Our mobile stage free community outreach concerts are designed to provide an incredible, intimate way for our community to experience and discover the magic of Music in the Mountains, and we look forward to continuing to share this experience with our communities for years to come!

Incredible Special Guests Join Our Orchestra for Our First Weekend of Full Orchestra Concerts

On July 14th, our Festival Orchestra took to the stage for the first of our full orchestra concerts in 2023! Led by Maestro Guillermo Figueroa, and joined by soloist Erin Schreiber, violin, audiences were treated to three fantastic pieces: Higdon’s Blue Cathedral; Korngold’s Concerto in D for Violin, Op. 35; and Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, making for a truly wonderful first full orchestra performance of 2023!

Continuing the excellence through the weekend, our Festival Orchestra was joined by two familiar friends of the Festival: pianist and vocalist Tony DeSare on Saturday, for “I Love a Piano,” and pianist Aviram Reichert on Sunday. DeSare delighted audiences with a performance that proved why he has won such critical and popular acclaim nationwide, with an upbeat performance featuring everything from Claude Debussy to John Lennon.

To cap off the first weekend of our 2023 summer festival, longtime friend of the Festival Aviram Reichert joined Maestro Figueroa and the Festival Orchestra for a brilliant performance of Gershwin’s Concerto in F for piano and orchestra, prior to which audiences were treated to Vivaldi’s Concerto in B Minor for Four Violins, RV 580 and Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759, “Unfinished.”

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A Much-Loved Family Favorite Returns: Our Dinner & Family Concert!

A mainstay of our summer Festivals, our much-loved Dinner & Family Concert returned on July 19th, 2023!

Designed specifically for children and their families, each year we present this family-friendly event to introduce the next generation of music lovers (and music makers!) to classical music.

Families from across the region once again joined us in 2023 for a pre-concert picnic in the Community Concert Hall courtyard, featuring hot dogs, root beer floats, and games for all ages! Families then enjoyed a special kid-friendly performance by our Festival Orchestra featuring Bruce Adolphe’s Carnival of the Creatures and Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.

Each summer, this beloved favorite remains a highlight of our summer Festivals, and we are committed to keeping ticket prices to this event low in order to keep it accessible for all families!

From Candlelight to Charlie Chaplin: Our Second Weekend of Music Amazes!

Our third full weekend of music in 2023 featured everything from an intimate candlelight concert to a dazzling evening celebrating A Night at the Oscars!

For the first time, Music in the Mountains presented a Candlelight Concert on July 21st. Featuring musicians from our Festival Orchestra, audiences were treated to a moving performance of Bruch’s Octet for Strings in B-flat, Op. posth. and Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings in E-flat, Op. 20, all while surrounded by the flickering glow of hundreds of candles.

The following evening, audiences dressed in their red carpet best and celebrated at our annual Pops Night, this year highlighting A Night at the Oscars! Held at the Sky Ute Event Center, this memorable evening featured an incredible cocktail hour, complete with signature cocktails, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and aerial entertainment by the Secret Circus Society. Next, audience members enjoyed an unforgettable multi-course dinner prepared on-site, and finally — the unbelievable performance! Led by guest conductor and friend of the Festival, Maestro Richard Kaufman, our Festival Orchestra led us down a nostalgic trip through cinema history, with performances of everything from John Barry’s Flying Over Africa from Out of Africa to the Flying Theme from E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

In perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the evening, special surprise guest Philippe Quint, violin, joined Maestro Kaufman and the Festival Orchestra for an incredible performance of the theme from Schindler’s List.

Continuing the cinematic theme, the third evening of our second weekend once again featured violinist Philippe Quint in Charlie Chaplin’s Smile! This fabulous multi-media performance featured unique arrangements by Quint of songs from Chaplin’s most celebrated films, as well as rare footage of the actor, video clips, and even tango dancers!

Closing Out the 2023 Festival: A Chamber Concert, Phenomenal Guests, and a Special Champagne Toast!

Heading into our final weekend of music in 2023, we hosted the second of our intimate chamber concerts, this time at the First Presbyterian Church in Durango, where audiences were treated to performances of pieces by Jonathan Dove, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Sergei Prokofiev, all performed by members of our Festival Orchestra.

The final Friday of our Festival featured a special appearance by Jason Vieaux, guitar, who joined our Festival Orchestra for two incredible performances of pieces by Rodrigo and Vivaldi. Our Festival Orchestra rounded out the evening with performances of Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56, and Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird (1919).

On Saturday, July 29th, audiences were invited to Cha Cha Cha! at Latin Jazz Night, featuring special guest Mariano Morales, piano composer, and arranger, and members of the Pikante Trio. This lively and exciting performance included pieces by Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and pieces composed and arranged by Mariano Morales himself!

Our final performance of the 2023 season truly was full of heart & soul. At “Heart & Soul”, on Sunday, July 30th, 2023, special guest Néstor Torres, flute, joined Maestro Figueroa and our Festival Orchestra for a truly fantastic performance of a piece composed by Saturday night’s guest, Mariano Morales, and commissioned by Maestro Figueroa for Torres himself! Our last night of music was rounded out by performances of Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 38, “Spring,” and Márquez’s Danzón No. 2.

This year, much like our fabulous Summer Soirée donor event that opens up our Festival, we closed out our Festival with a wonderful Closing Night Donor Reception. Together, with our donors that help make our Festival possible, we toasted to another incredible season of Music in the Mountains. (Interested in attending our donor events? Become a Music in the Mountains donor today!)

It’s the music. It’s the musicians. It’s the experience.

After a successful and memorable 2023 season, we look ahead to 2024!

In 2024, we will not only celebrate our 38th Anniversary Season, we will also mark the final season under the baton of Guillermo Figueroa, who will transition to Artistic Director & Conductor Emeritus in September 2024.

Figuero has been an integral part of Music in the Mountains since 2007, and we look forward to celebrating all that he has done and brought to the organization, in the form of a truly wonderful 2024 Festival!

Plan on joining us from
July 11-August 4, 2024!

Stay up-to-date on upcoming Festival news!

Remembering Walt Dear

In the fall of 2023, we lost our great friend and longtime supporter Walt Dear. Please join us in remembering Walt, and all the amazing contributions he gave not only to Music in the Mountains, but  to our community as a whole.

Thank you, Walt.