Telluride Town Talks
Each Tuesday night at the Sheridan Opera House, from now until August 6, you can listen to Town Talks. “Town Talks.” They sound like ordinary chats, perhaps about local politics, or plans for this year’s Fourth of July Celebration.
But they are not. In fact, these Town Talks are about some of the most profound, far-reaching subjects imaginable, relevant not only to the Town of Telluride, but to the future of the planet. One of last week’s topics, for example, was a presentation by Leonard Barrie, Research Director of the Bolin Centre for Climate Research and Professor for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Stockholm University, entitled The Changing Polar Regions: Threat and Opportunity. This Tuesday evening there will be a talk on Nimble Bacteria (“How they Sense Their Environment to Infect and Outwit”) by Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry Patricia L. Clark from Notre Dame. Future topics will include the evolution of disease, and the prospects of unlimited energy from sunlight and water.
While the topics are substantial, their presentation is brisk: two scientists hold forth, for 20 minutes each, every week – a pretty ideal way to take in weighty scientific subject matter on a late-summer afternoon. The scientists pick the topics, and pay their own way to Telluride. They are here anyway, speaking, studying and presenting research at the Telluride Science and Research Center, said Nana Naisbitt, who has programmed the talks for the past 11 years, and seen attendance grow from just one or two people to an audience of over 100 every week. The incredible thing is, “the scientists giving these presentations are the absolute best in the world,” Naisbitt said. Most of their very big ideas are the result of studying very small things, such as microbes. (In the Arctic, for example, microbes help scientists understand what the planet’s climate used to be like, and microbes in our cells are being studied in relation to diseases such as cystic fibrosis and cancer.) “These guys are here studying health, new energy sources and the environment,” Naisbitt said. There are “half a dozen independent physics centers, but we are the only independent molecular science center in the world. Isn’t that amazing?” It is.
Town Talks are free, though donations are very welcome, and run from 6-7:15 p.m. To learn more about each week’s presentation, visit the Telluride Science Research Center’s website at telluridescience.org.
In Montrose: Piano Masterworks from Kathryn Mientka
He was absolutely devoted to his wife, with whom he shared every musical endeavor. His musical connection with Catie was on a deep intuitive level, and reflected their immense love for one another. – From ‘Tyne Mientka: A Life in Music’
The Mientka family of Paonia and Grand Junction, founders of the successful Western Slope chamber-music concert series and the popular ‘crossover’ Celtic band FEAST, lost their patriarch, Tyne Mientka, last year. Before Tyne and his wife, Catherine, raised a family, and Tyne began teaching cello at Mesa State College and playing in the Grand Junction Symphony, and they all started touring together, it was just Tyne and Catherine. They met as music students at Northwestern University, sold all their belongings (including a grand piano) to fund a move to Europe, and ended up playing concerts for royalty, including the Prince and Princess of Hanover. Back then, they were known as the Mientka Duo, partners in life and on stage.
This weekend, Kathryn Mientka will honor that legacy by playing a solo concert in tribute to her late husband. The concert will include a number of works they played together – he on cello, she on piano – only now she is going it alone.
How do you play works the two of you used to play, when only one of you is left? The practical answer to that question is to make use of the talents of one Frederic Meinders, an “amazing Dutch pianist” who has done 600 arrangements, taking works for multiple instruments and turning them into beautiful piano solos, she said. ‘Ich Liebe Dich’ (I Love You), by Edvard Grieg, is a piece Mientka often played with her late husband; now she’ll play it solo, via a Meinders arrangement. The Dutch composer also arranged ‘Apres un Reve’ (After a Dream), by Gabriel Faure, and ‘Softly Awakes My Heart’ by Saint-Saens, for solo piano, as well. Kathryn will also play the Franz Liszt arrangement of Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ (“I used to beg Tyne to play it for me”), and Liszt’s arrangement of Robert Schumann’s very romantic ‘Widmung’ (Dedication), which Schumann wrote for his bride-to-be, Clara. Kathryn taught herself to play Schumann’s work and performed it for her husband as a present on their 27th wedding anniversary. “He was very touched,” she said.
The rehearsals have been brutal: “My hands are hurting,” she said earlier this week. “I’ve been doing this 12 hours a day.” And the subject matter is terribly emotional. Despite the deft arrangements, “As I play these pieces, I’m conscious of the piano line and the cello line, and keeping hearing in my mind the way it used to sound,” she said. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is a one-off: Kathryn Mientka has no plans to play a solo piano concert anytime soon following this singular event. She will, however, appear in the latest edition of the Western Slope Concert Series this coming fall, now in its 15th season. Kathryn Mientka appears in concert on Sunday, June 23 at 3 p.m. at the Montrose Pavilion. Tickets are available online at junctionconcerts.com and at the door of the Pavilion. All piano students and teachers will be admitted free; identify yourself at the door. Mientka will also play at the First United Methodist Church in Grand Junction Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Orchestra of Exiles in Ouray
Finally, a reminder: Trio Solisti returns to this region for its 11th summer chamber music concert at 7 p.m. this Sunday, June 23. The concert, which takes place at the 4-H Event Center, will feature music by Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Smetana. Maria Bachmann, Trio’s celebrated violinist, is married to Josh Aronson, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, and Aronson’s recent documentary, Orchestra of Exiles, will screen at the Wright Opera House Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. “Josh is connected to Trio Solisti in that he’s directed and released a 30-minute program of the group recording two of Beethoven’s master works, so we thought this would be a good fit,” said Sue Hillhouse, a board member of the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild, which is sponsoring both the film and the concert.
Orchestra tells the story of Bronislaw Huberman, the Polish violinist who saved over 1,000 lives by re-locating the talented Jewish musicians Hitler had fired to Palestine, and founding what would go on to become the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. The film has screened on PBS-TV; Amazon buyers give it five stars out of five. “Richly researched and partly told by some of today’s top-flight musicians, Orchestra of Exiles aspires to a level of primary research that other historical documentaries could take a page from,” the New York Times said of the film. Aronson will be on hand to answer questions about his documentary following the screening. Following its appearance in Ouray County, Trio Solisti, along with several guest artists, will go on to play the Telluride MusicFest over four nights beginning next Wednesday, June 26. For tickets to Trio Solisti at the 4-H Event Center, visit ocpag.org. To see Trio at the Telluride MusicFest, visit telluridemusicfest.com. For more information about Orchestra of Exiles, visit thewrightoperahouse.org.