ELEVATED | Passionate Music, Lascivious Theatre
by Leslie Vreeland
Aug 15, 2013 | 1622 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SAN JUAN CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL – Violinist Nurit Pacht, pianist Max Levinson, and cellist Allison Levinson performed at last year's Festival. Emily Johannessen, winner of a scholarship offered by Ouray County for the Performing Arts Guild, acted as page-turner. (Courtesy photo)
SAN JUAN CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL – Violinist Nurit Pacht, pianist Max Levinson, and cellist Allison Levinson performed at last year's Festival. Emily Johannessen, winner of a scholarship offered by Ouray County for the Performing Arts Guild, acted as page-turner. (Courtesy photo)

In Montrose: Richie Furay in Concert


A month or so ago, the New York Times ran a story about the many psychological benefits of feeling nostalgic. Along with the article was a Nostalgia Playlist. “Music has the power to transport people to another time and place, setting off a flood of memories of family road trips, hot summer nights and young heartbreak,” the paper noted. The Times asked readers to name a song that evoked feelings of nostalgia, and they submitted more than 150. Number 8 on the list was “Kind Woman,” by The Buffalo Springfield.  “We were newly married and living in a factory loft on 9th St. and Ave. D in NYC in 1969,” reader David Youngstrom recalled. “The loft was heated by two pot-bellied stoves, one of which was two-feet high and strategically placed next to the bath tub, which was in the middle of the room. The Springfield’s [album] Last Time Around and especially ‘Kind Woman’ bring back the warmth of the fire, the warmth of the tub, and the previously unknown warmth of profound love, a love that 44 years later is still burning. ‘Kind woman, won’t you love me tonight?’”

The author of that classic country-rock ballad with the aching pedal-steel guitar is singer-songwriter Richie Furay. He plays the Pavilion Friday night. (He wrote “Kind Woman,” by the way, for the woman who would later become his wife; he’s still married to her 46 years later.)

Furay may be the first inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ever to offer a concert on the Western Slope; a founding member of The Buffalo Springfield (Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Jim Messina are all alums), Furay went on with Messina to co-found the seminal country-rock band Poco in 1968 after Buffalo’s demise. Although Poco never took off commercially, its sound helped define a Southern-California-mellow-musical generation: Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Pure Prairie League and Jackson Browne all owe it a debt. By the 1980s, Furay had left the music business. A crisis in his marriage had led to his religious conversion, and since 1983, he’s been the pastor at Calvary Chapel, a non-denominational church in Broomfield on the Front Range. Furay still makes music, not only in church, but in concert; he hooked up with Neil Young and Stephen Stills in a reprise of Buffalo Springfield two years ago (they played Bonnaroo), and he re-joined Poco for their 20th anniversary recording. Perhaps most important, Furay has continued to grow musically on his own. He’s cut several Christian-themed records, and more mainstream music as well. A few years ago, he returned to Nashville and cut The Heartbeat of Love, for which he wrote or co-wrote all 12 songs with the contributions of Stills, Young and an all-star team of musicians he hand picked. Rock critic Chet Flippo raved: “It’s very evident he’s still got the gift of writing great music.” There are lovely, sentimental love songs on Heartbeat, and “full-on, hard-charging, infectious rockers…It’s like he never went away. Hearing his voice again above ringing guitars, soaring fiddle and ice-pick sharp steel guitar is a joyous experience.” Furay has a new album, entitled Hand in Hand, out this fall. Like the song “Kind Woman,” he wrote it for his wife. “It looks at our life from this end of things,” he said. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.  To hear samples of Furay’s music, visit richiefuray.com.


In Ouray: San Juan Chamber MusicFest

The title sets the tone: it’s MusicFest, not Music Festival. This annual series of chamber music concerts in Ouray County, which this year run from Aug. 22-Aug. 27, is never stuffy or unapproachable. Part of MusicFest’s mission is to introduce classical music to children and young families, and this year the free family concert will be hosted by one “Wolfgang Amadeus Schmutzinberry” (also known as guitarist and music educator Rami Vamos).

The subject matter for the main Festival concert is decidedly more grown-up. It’s entitled “Love and Passion,” and includes, among other music,  Cassado’s Suite for Solo Cello, Prokofiev’s music from the ballet Romeo and Juliet, and Dvorak’s Piano Trio in F Minor. The “love and passion” refers to Romeo and Juliet, and passionate emotions to Dvorak’s great work.  Pianist Max Levinson, the Festival’s artistic director, had been a great admirer of Prokofiev’s orchestral version of R&J for years. The composer had also written a version of the ballet for piano. “I’d been looking for an excuse to learn it,” Levinson said, and here was his chance. “The repertoire for Chamber Music is so huge,” he said, “and I get excited to be in Ouray and Ridgway. I’m like a kid in a candy store: I get an opportunity to learn new things.” As for Dvorak, Levinson said, the emotions in the Piano Trio – one of the composer’s most powerful and eloquent works – “are deep and heartfelt, as they are in all his pieces.” Chamberbase, the online database with a focus on “the extraordinary genre of chamber music,” describes the Piano Trio as “serious, stormy and fraught with tragic conflict.” A perennial favorite at the MusicFest is the Salon Dinner Concert at a private home, and this year the theme is Vive La France, featuring works by Faure, Debussy and Ravel. “I chose this theme so Sara Sharpe [the event’s caterer] would be able to plan a French meal,” Levinson said.

Though she is still working out details of the menu,  “We’ll be eating French,” Sharpe said. “No doubt about that.”

For complete details on the San Juan Chamber MusicFest, visit ocpag.org.


Dinner with Dionysus


Speaking of dinner and a show – and passion – the Telluride Theatre presents Dinner with Dionysus next week. This original work by Sasha Sullivan, in collaboration with her cast and crew, is about Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine (his Roman name is Bacchus). “Coming up in the theatre, you study this stuff,” Sullivan said. “I’ve always been fascinated by Dionysus. He was sort of an outsider from the other Gods. He represented women, and dance, and ecstasy and madness. And people who wanted to live in nature. Telluride is a very Dionysus town!” The play “is totally different from anything we’ve done before,” she said, “but people will recognize our style: it’s fun, funny, and experimental, with original music.”

Given the subject matter – the reveling of the Gods – there will be food and drink available at each performance. (The production’s tagline is, Party like it’s 1237 B.C.) “As I get older, I wonder about God, and what it is to have that… “ Sullivan paused. “Thing.” She added quickly, “Theatre is my religion.” Performances are Sunday, Aug. 18-Thursday, Aug. 22 in the Daniel Tucker Gallery at the Ah Haa School. Admission is free. Seating is extremely limited; please arrive early. Adults only.

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