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Music in the Mountains: A Season of Change

Summer is a season for embracing all that is beautiful in the world, and Music in the Mountains, Southwest Colorado’s longest running classical music festival, embodies that perfectly. For three

Guillermo Figueroa, Conductor of Music in the Mountains

weeks each summer, musicians of the highest caliber come from across the nation to celebrate their art and share their truly impressive talents with the Durango community.

Music in the Mountains has been bringing the richness and beauty of classical music to Southwestern Colorado for over 30 years, entertaining and delighting audiences while raising money for the organization’s year-round music education program, Music in the Mountains Goes to School.

As the festival enters its 33rd season this summer, it aims to maintain its unwavering commitment to the music and its attention to the experiences and memories created. This summer, festival-goers will notice a few significant and exciting differences as the organization continues to evolve and change to better serve its purpose of bringing world-class music to the audiences of Southwest Colorado.

First, there will be a new primary home venue this year. Music in the Mountains is partnering with the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College to create a new experience for concert-goers as well as musicians. The Festival has been hosted at Purgatory Resort for 32 years under the Festival Tent, and while the special magic of that venue will certainly be missed, the organization is incredibly excited about the new direction.

Pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe

The Community Concert Hall is able to seat 616 visitors (65 more than the festival tent) and its larger stage offers more flexibility for performances. In fact, the July 19th show, dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong would not have been possible at the Festival Tent. The Concert Hall’s stage and acoustics will allow Byron Stripling and Carmen Bradford to make “Ella, Louis & Friends” a larger-than-life reimagining of the featured iconic jazz duets and solos.

The state-of-the-art acoustics at the Community Concert Hall will also allow concert-goers to fully experience the world-class sound our talented musicians bring to Durango, as it was meant to be heard. Audiences will hear familiar, timeless, classical pieces such as Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 come to life in the hands of soloist Emmanuelle Boisvert. Or they’ll fall in love with something new, like Schumann’s Konzertstück, under the baton of visiting conductor, Grammy-award winning JoAnn Falletta.

In addition to allowing for larger, more dynamic performances, the in-town venue also brings the possibility for a greater economic impact in downtown

Phillippe Quint, renowned violinist and MITM favorite

Durango, especially for lodging and restaurants. This proximity to town will also make the Festival more accessible to visitors from neighboring communities such as Pagosa Springs, Farmington, Cortez, and other surrounding areas.

In the spirit of expanding its reach, Music in the Mountains will also host multiple events outside of Durango, in Bayfield, Cortez and Ignacio. In fact, the festival’s opening event on July 6th, featuring FY5 with special guests Stillhouse Junkies, will be hosted at the Bayfield Performing Arts Center. Then on July 11th, the Sunflower Theater in Cortez will host a night dedicated to the music of Charlie Chaplin. Music in the Mountains will continue to hold two chamber concerts in two different Durango locations.

With artists like FY5 opening the summer’s events and concert themes such as Charlie Chaplain, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, it’s clear that the festival is embracing a few new genres while continuing to bring unparalleled classical offerings to the region. Ultimately Music in the Mountains is a classical music festival, and that will always be the core, but the community has shown they love the pops genre too and has embraced the new additions in recent years.

In fact, the Pops Night Benefit Dinner and Concert is the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year. This season the benefit will be hosted at the Sky Ute Casino Events Center in Ignacio, the only nearby facility large enough to host an event of this scale. This partnering with the Casino will be yet

JoAnn Falleta, Grammy Award-winning guest conductor

another first for the festival. The night will be dedicated to “First Ladies of Song” and will celebrate the music of female icons such as Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Adele and more.

Finally, in keeping with the trend of firsts, this 2019 festival will also end on a new note. This season’s closing night on Sunday, July 28th, will see opera introduced into the lineup for the first time. This is yet another performance that is sure to be enhanced by the accommodations of the new venue at the Community Concert Hall.

Ultimately, the Festival is dedicated to the music, the experience, and to creating something truly unforgettable for audiences. From the Chocolate Indulgence benefit event at the Cascade Events Center, to Paddington Bear’s First Concert, a Family Night event at the Community Concert Hall, this festival really does strive to bring a little something for everyone.

Music in the Mountains is so excited to be able to continue to bring such a phenomenal festival to the Durango community, and this year is sure to be one for the books.


Angie Beach is the Executive Director of Music in the Mountains.  The 33rd season of Music in the Mountains will be held from July 6 to July 28, 2019.  For tickets and schedule, call (970) 385-6820 or visit

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