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Aspen Music Festival and School announces new name for its biggest venue: The Michael Klein Music Tent

Courtesy of the Aspen Music Festival and School
The Aspen Music Festival and School's largest venue will be renamed the "Michael Klein Music Tent" to recognize Klein's contributions to the organization.

A historic destination for classical music in Aspen has a new name: The Michael Klein Music Tent. The Aspen Music Festival and School announced the change on Friday, citing a significant financial contribution from Klein — a longtime board member and supporter of the festival.

“The naming of the tent is really a recognition of lifetime of service to the organization as well as (a recognition of) the gift he is just making now,” festival president and CEO Alan Fletcher said in a phone call.

The 2,050-seat permanent structure in Aspen’s West End has been called the “Benedict Music Tent” since it opened in 2000.

An earlier version was called the “Bayer-Benedict Music Tent” — a nod to its architects, Herbert Bayer and Fritz Benedict — and before that, it was just “The Music Tent,” according to a history provided by the music festival. Benedict, who was also a board chair for the organization, will still be recognized with his name attached to the main entrance of the venue.

Fletcher said the board and other festival stakeholders “had a very thorough process” for considering the new tent name. It will be the “Michael Klein Music Tent” for 25 years, before the tent may be re-named again in honor of other patrons of the festival. According to a release, “this gift structure is designed to thank the institution’s most committed supporters while creating the opportunity for future investment.”

Klein’s gift is the second-largest in the organization’s history. It comes as the festival and school invest in music tent renovations, expanded music education programming and increased operating costs, according to a press release. The festival is also grappling with a shortage of affordable housing for students and staff; they had to cut an orchestral program in 2022 as a result.

“We really feel that we owe it to (our staff) to have a more favorable situation for housing,” Fletcher said. “And yes, it's going to cost money, and so Michael Klein’s gift is a really, really strong start.”

Though Fletcher didn’t provide the exact amount of Klein’s donation, he said the only larger sum was $25 million from Matthew and Kay Bucksbaum. (Their contribution in 2007 paid for an extensive renovation of the organization’s teaching campus off of Castle Creek Road, now named the Bucksbaum Campus in their honor.)

In a press release, Klein said it’s “an honor to be able to give a gift like this to an organization I believe in so much.”

“Having watched the miraculous work of the young musicians of the festival and school close-up, literally, for more than thirty years, I am convinced that the work here is some of the world’s most inspiring and uplifting,” he added. “The world needs the brilliant, hopeful work of our young musicians, faculty and visiting artists, and I’m proud to be able to support it this way.”