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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!

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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