KAJX

Chris Mohr

Host - Classical Music from Aspen

Summer classical music host Chris Mohr is coming up to Aspen for his sixth summer on Aspen Public Radio. He has loved classical music since he was twelve. “And I owe it all to radio,” Chris explains. “I grew up in a farm town east of Cleveland. Most of the music I heard growing up was Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and other favorites of my parents.

One evening, I turned on the classical radio station in Cleveland, thirty miles away. Vivaldi was pouring out of the speakers, like a light pouring down from heaven, and I sat completely entranced. ‘I have not lived until this moment,’ I said to myself.  For months I spent all my paper route money buying Vivaldi records, and listening to the classical station.”

That classical music radio station was Chris’s lifeline to a world that was not otherwise accessible to him. Chris feels indebted to radio, and especially to classical music on the radio. “I sometimes imagine that I’m playing a great classical piece, and that somewhere down valley a twelve year old kid is connecting to classical music for the first time, just like I did. In fact, once, when I was playing Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, a teenager called me and asked what it was. ‘Wow man, it’s like 19th century Pink Floyd!’ That really made my week. I felt like I was paying it forward for the gift I had received decades ago.”

Chris and Karen Mohr at the Colorado Symphony Ball

Chris is deeply  committed to classical music radio. He’s been a part-time classical announcer since 1978, and never tires of exploring the riches of the classics. “To be up in Aspen every summer, sharing great music on the air every afternoon and hearing Aspen Music Festival concerts every evening is truly a dream come true!”

Bonus story from Chris: A little over three decades ago, a friend with a private pilot's license invited to fly me anywhere in Colorado for the cost of gas. Wanting to impress a woman I was intensely interested in, I asked if she'd like to be flown from Denver to Aspen in a small plane to hear Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The plane got 100 feet into the air and ended up crashing into a field just beyond the runway!

The plane was damaged but we were unhurt, so I raced us over Independence Pass. By the time we arrived, the concert was about to begin and there were no tickets to be had. We sat out on the lawn, looking at dark brooding clouds throughout the first movement.

During the violent Scherzo, lightning bolts were crashing onto the mountaintops all around us. During the quieter third movement, there was an incredibly gentle mist. As the chorus began to sing the Ode to Joy, the sun burst out! I should have proposed to her on the spot, but we did marry three years later... and we haven't missed a summer in Aspen together since!

Happy Independence Day!

The annual free Fourth of July celebration concert takes place today at 4 in the Benedict Music Tent with stirring patriotic favorites conducted by Lawrence Isaacson.

Tomorrow morning at 10 at the Wheeler Opera House, exciting young singers from the Aspen Opera Theater Center present semi-staged opera scenes with supertitles in a Master Class by director Edward Berkeley.

Tomorrow at 1, it’s the first Music on the Mountain of the season: a casual concert in a stunning setting atop Aspen Mountain. Take the gondola (or a strenuous hike) and enjoy a picnic while listening to top student talent.

The dynamic pianist Wu Han performs Mozart in tomorrow’s 4:45 preconcert chamber music at Harris Concert Hall. At 6, it’s the Aspen Chamber Symphony conducted by Music Director Robert Spano in Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and iconic Fifth Symphony, and Bartok’s Second Violin Concerto with superstar Gil Shaham as soloist.

Sunday’s Aspen Festival Orchestra concert at 4 features another master of the violin, Joshua Bell, in the lush and lyrical Bruch First Violin Concerto. Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya also eads the AFS in selections from Falla’s Three Cornered Hat Suites and Saint-Saens’ majestic “Organ Symphony.”

Pianist Stephen Hough teaches a master class today from 10am to noon in Harris Concert Hall.

A Spotlight Recital showcasing top student talent takes place at noon at the Aspen Community Church. At 4:15pm, Chapel Chamber Music at the Aspen Chapel offers another chance to enjoy this summer’s rising stars. At 8:30pm tonight at the Bucksbaum campus, a String Showcase features more young musicians. All three of these events are free.

The first of two season recitals by one of the world’s greatest string quartets, the Takacs, takes place tonight at 8pm in Harris Concert Hall. The Janacek Second Quartet, “Intimate Letters,” portrays the 63 year old composer’s obsession with a 25 year old married woman. It was, as he described, “written in fire.” Also on the program, the moving Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, and Beethoven’s Late Quartet in A minor, composed after his recovery from a serious illness and including the intensely emotional and spiritual movement, “Holy song of Thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian Mode.”

High Notes, a series of free conversations with some of the performers and composers featured during the Festival’s 65th season, begins today at noon at Christ Episcopal Church. Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher will offer an overview and point out highlights of this summer’s repertoire, and talk with members of the Boulder-based, internationally acclaimed Takacs Quartet as they preview their July 3rd and July 8th recitals.

At 6pm in the Benedict Music Tent, the Aspen Philharmonic conducted by Hugh Wolff performs the Brahms Tragic Overture, Beethoven’s thrilling 7th Symphony, and the lyrical 3rd Violin Concerto of Saint-Saens with 20 year old rising star, Aspen alum (and former star baseball player!) William Hagen as soloist.

Pianist and composer Stephen Hough will play works of German Romantics and his own Second Sonata tonight at 8:30pm in Harris Concert Hall.

On today's Festival Showcase, host Chris Mohr chats with members of the Zora  Quartet, practicing and performing this summer at Aspen's Center for Advanced Quartet Studies. Then, Chris offers up an exceptional archival "Check 1,2" interview with violinist Robert McDuffie, as he talked about everything from chamber music to the day he got to play blues rock with Greg Allman.

High Notes, a series of free conversations with some of the performers and composers featured during the Festival’s 65th season, begins today at noon at Christ Episcopal Church. Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher will offer an overview and point out highlights of this summer’s repertoire, and talk with members of the Boulder-based, internationally acclaimed Takacs Quartet as they preview their July 3rd and July 8th recitals.

At 6pm in the Benedict Music Tent, the Aspen Philharmonic conducted by Hugh Wolff performs the Brahms Tragic Overture, Beethoven’s thrilling 7th Symphony, and the lyrical 3rd Violin Concerto of Saint-Saens with 20 year old rising star, Aspen alum (and former star baseball player!) William Hagen as soloist.

Pianist and composer Stephen Hough will play works of German Romantics and his own Second Sonata tonight at 8:30pm in Harris Concert Hall.

Violinist Robert McDuffie teaches a master class today at 1pm in Harris Concert Hall. At 4 in the Benedict Music Tent, the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen Orchestra offers its first performance of the season. This free concert features aspiring conducting students in works of Berlioz and Stravinsky, and Brahms’s beautifully pastoral Second Symphony. Hear the AACA in free concerts every Tuesday at 4 throughout the Festival season.

Trios of Beethoven and Shostakovich, and the great “Dumky” Trio by Dvorak will be performed by violinist Philip Setzer, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han tonight at 7:30 in Harris Concert Hall. Tune in for a live broadcast of this wonderful program here on Aspen Public Radio.

Tonight at 8 in Harris Concert Hall, pianist and composer Stephen Hough will perform his piece Other Love Songs. Also on the program are a Clarinet Sonata by Weinberg and the ravishing Ravel Piano Trio.

Cellist David Finckel will be joined by his wife pianist Wu Han and violinist Philip Setzer in trios by Beethoven and Shostakovich, and the exquisite “Dumky” Trio of Dvorak tomorrow at 7:30 in Harris Concert Hall. The recital will be broadcast live on Aspen Public Radio hosted by Chris Mohr.

Today marks the opening of the 65th season of the Aspen Music Festival celebrating” The New Romantics.” At 4:15 today, hear top students in chamber music at the beautiful Aspen Chapel. At 7pm at Harris Concert Hall, enjoy a recital of works by Beethoven, Enescu and Philip Glass with violinist Robert McDuffie and Aspen Music Festival Music Director Robert Spano at the piano.

“The New Romantics:” it’s the theme of the 65th season of the Aspen Music Festival which opens tomorrow and offers over 300 concerts over the next eight weeks. Discover how the elements of the most-beloved works of the 19th century are making a comeback in our time. Symphonic and chamber masterpieces of Beethoven, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Dvorak, Mahler and other favorites will be performed alongside those of living composers whose individual expression and artistic adventurism typifies the Romantic spirit. Chris Mohr had a chance to discuss this summer’s lineup with Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher and Festival Artistic Administrator Asadour Santourian.

The 2014 Aspen Public Festival season begins this week. Today, for the first Festival Showcase of the new season, host Chris Mohr is joined Alan Fletcher, President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and Asadour Santourian, Vice President of Artistic Administration and Artistic Advisor, to talk about the upcoming 2014 season and the theme of the New Romantics. Then we listen to Music Director Robert Spano’s inspiring words at yesterday’s Convocation.

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