44th Annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival: Overview

The 44th annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival officially takes place Tuesday, August 8 – Sunday, August 13. Tickets, $30, are available here, at the Telluride Music Company,333 W. Colorado, or at the door prior to each concert. All evening concerts start at 7:30 p.m.; the Sunday matinee begins at 2:30 p.m. There is also a special concert for children on Friday, August 11, 11 a.m., at the Palm.

Prior to the official run, however, there is a very special, brand new event: a warm-up concert featuring festival co-founder and a lead pianist for the San Francisco Symphony Robin Sutherland. He is performing at Telluride’s Christ Church on Sunday, August 6, 6 – 8 p.m. Scroll down for further details about the free recital.

They came.

They performed.

They conquered.

Violinist Roy Malan and pianist Robin Sutherland rolled into town in 1974, liked the views and founded the Telluride Chamber Music Festival. That was the same year the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Film Fest came into being. In fact, the nascent nonprofit had to share the derelict Sheridan Opera House stage with Film Fest and its honored guest, Gloria Swanson.

Roy Malan

“I remember the lady peeking out from the side curtain and intoning: ‘You really should have been around when we said it all without a sound.’ And she wondered who the heck we were,” said Malan.

Just a few short years before that encounter, Joe Zoline opened the mountain to skiing (in 1972).

Telluride officially had it all: snow and cultcha.

Reminiscing about the bad old days, Malan went on to explain:

“After our first year,  a woman named Barb Martin brought us back to town, but also farmed us out to Silverton, Montrose, and Grand Junction. I particularly remember one performance at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton, owned by a big classical music fan named Don Stott.”

Malan was in the middle of Mendelssohn’s C-minor Trio when the incident occurred.

“A big man in a large cowboy hat stood and shouted: ‘You call this music?’ Stott was no pipsqueak. Furious, he got up and unceremoniously tossed the guy out the front door of his hotel. We concluded the program with no further interruptions. The incident was our first real insight into the culture of the Old West, where the general public clearly had to be won over.”

No longer.

Not for years.

Forty-four to be exact.

Game on – but this year with a few significant changes in venues and a surprise, a kind of amuse bouche or teaser before the main course to set the tone of the week: Robin Sutherland is performing at Christ Church, 434 W. Colorado, on Sunday, August 6, 6 – 8 p.m. The concert is free, but of course donations are gratefully accepted. The evening includes wine and appetizers and a live auction (with a professional auctioneer).

Robin Sutherland

Chamber Music has been popular for hundreds of years. First performed in the late 15th/early 16th centuries, the genre was meant to be enjoyed in small chambers or salons, largely before an audience of noblemen and women, as opposed to other music of the era written for the hoi polloi (relatively speaking) who frequented churches and theaters. Since the early 19th century, however, chamber music became integrated into the concert repertoire. Sutherland, once summed up chamber music today perfectly:

“Chamber music is more than one and without a conductor.”

2017 Telluride Chamber Music Festival program:

Tuesday, August 8, 5 p.m., Town Park Picnic/Concert. 

Bring your picnic dinner and enjoy the music, which starts at 6 p.m.

Thursday, August 10, 7:30 p.m., Sheridan Opera House, Concert

Milhaud Trio for violin, clarinet and piano
Brahms Sonata for clarinet and piano
Dvorak Quintet for piano and strings

Friday, August 11, 11 a.m., Michael Palm Theater, Children’s Concert 

Saturday, August 12., 7:30 p.m., Telluride Mountain Village Conference Center, Concert 

Mozart Viola Quintet in C
Brahms Trio for Clarinet, cello and piano
Suk Piano Quartet op. 1

Sunday, August 13, 2:30 p.m., Michael Palm Theater, Robin Sutherland, piano concert

Prelude & Fugue #1 in C Major by Bach
Ragamarole by John Adams
Grieg Sonata for Violin and Piano in c
Faure Quartet no. 1 For Piano and Strings

The Telluride Chamber Music Festival players include Malan, Sutherland, Susan Freier, Nancy Ellis, Polly Malan, Stephen Harrison, and Carlos Ortega.

More about Telluride Chamber Music Festival co-founders:

Roy Malan, violin & co-artistic director.

Last January, Roy Malan relinquished his position as concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. His 40-year first year tenure with the orchestra sets a record for any major orchestra in the San Francisco Bay Area and quite likely the rest of the country as well.

Malan’s contribution to San Francisco’s music life is unusually wide-ranging. His violin playing represents a distillation of his links to the “Golden Age” of romantic performers, combined with a hands-on knowledge of contemporary performance techniques. During the San Francisco Ballet’s season, Malan was heard by thousands of fans every evening when he performed the grand ballet solos of literature, which includes most of the major violin concertos. One critic wrote that these solos alone were worth the price of admission.

Colleagues have described Malan as the last of the romantics with a distinctive sound. As the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players’ premier violist for as many years, he performed standard cornerstone, as well as hot-off-the-press new music, collaborating with such luminaries as Olivier Messiaen, Elliot Carter, Pierre Boulez, Lou Harrison, John Adams, Dave Brubeck, and Frank Zappa.

Malan’s training at the Curtis Institute under Efrem Zimbalist and at Juilliard provided him with the grounding to reach the heights of his profession as he did. Additional mentors included Yehudi Menuhin and Oscar Shumsky.

As a teacher, Malan placed students in most of the Bay Area’s orchestras and chamber groups. In addition he directs a summer chamber music festival in Telluride and is author of an acclaimed biography about his teacher, Zimbalist, who bequeathed Malan his favorite French concert bows.

Robin Sutherland, piano & co-artistic director

Robin Sutherland studied with Rosina Lhevinne at the Juilliard School and with Paul Hersh at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. While still an undergraduate, he was appointed principal pianist of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) by Seiji Ozawa.

The recipient of numerous awards, Sutherland was selected at 17 to be sole participant from the USA at the International Bach Festival at Lincoln Center. He was a finalist in the International Bach Competition in Washington DC and has performed all of J.S. Bach’s keyboard works.

An avid chamber musician, Sutherland co- founded the Telluride Chamber Music Festival and is a regular performer at the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine.

A number of composers have dedicated works to Sutherland and among the world premieres in which he has participated was that of John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music, with members of the San Francisco Symphony.

A frequent soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Sutherland was featured in Leonard Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety” with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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