Editor’s Note: Telluride Chamber Music Festival launches with the ever-popular painted violin series, including works by Elaine Fischer, Ellen Brody, Cindy Sampson, David Brankley, Kristin Johnson, Michael and Cindy Wszynski, John Hopkins, Julie Siegel, Susan McCormack, Barbara Konvracki, Bruce Gomez (who also created the 2012 poster art) and others. The opening wine and cheese reception at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art takes place Wednesday, August 8, 6 – 7 p.m. Following the reception, the violins will be on display at retail outlets throughout town through August 19.

It’s an old story with a new twist. Three new twists to be exact: violinist Mike Graber, staff accompanist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; pianist Ian Scarfe, a music associate at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; and cellist Jonah Kim, soloist and an associate principal cellist for San Francisco Ballet, of which he is the youngest member.

“Think Lang Lang, think Yuja Wang. Jonah Kim, the 22-year-old cellist who gave a recital at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on Sunday afternoon, is cut from the same cloth… Kim can do pretty much what he wants on a cello. He played with a lot of finesse and a lot of intensity… across a fair spectrum of styles. He flirted with the line, shaped it, wrapped it around his fingers, pulled it out in a new dimension, all with practiced ease. Kim showed that he has all the goods to excel and to entertain,” raved The Washington Post

Graber, Scarfe and Kim join festival regulars, founder and artistic director Roy Malan, violinist Susan Freier, violists Nancy Ellis and Polly Malan, cellist Stephen Harrison and special goes, mezzo soprano Erin Neff, all scheduled to perform at the 39th annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Thursday, August 9 – Sunday, August 19, one of the longest running events of its kind in the country.

The Thursday kick-off, “Concert in the Park,” begins at 6 p.m. in Town Park. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner, sit back and enjoy the music.

Friday, August 10, features music of Brahms, Debussy and Shostakovich.The Sunday matinee, August 12, showcases the work of Dohnanyi, Mendelssohn and Arensky. Friday, August 17 is all about Schubert and Tchaikovsky. Sunday, August 19,  3 p.m., the festival ends on a high note with San Francisco Opera soprano, Erin Neff performing a program entitled “From Spain with Love.”

Chamber Music has been popular for hundreds of years. First performed in the late 15th/early 16th centuries, the genre was meant to be performed 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. Malan’s co-founder, Robin Sutherland, once summed up perfectly:

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

The first official year of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival was 1974, when the nascent nonprofit shared the derelict Sheridan Opera House stage with the Telluride Film Festival and its honored guest, Gloria Swanson.

“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.

Continuing to reminisce about the bad old days, Malan explained:

“After our first year, 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. Game on.

All evening concerts begin with pre-concert notes starting at 6:45 p.m. Evening concerts all begin at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee starts at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets are available at, Telluride Music Store, at the door prior to each concert or by calling the Chamber office, 970-728-8686.

1 Comment
  • Sandrina
    Posted at 10:36h, 23 October

    Thanks for finally writing about >CHAMBER MUSIC
    FEST KICKS OFF THURSDAY | Telluride Inside