Opera House: Ben Sollee in Concert 8/11

Opera House: Ben Sollee in Concert 8/11

Cellist-composer-environmental activist Ben Sollee returns to town to perform at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House. The concert takes place Friday, August 11, 9 p.m. (Doors  and SHOW bar open at 8 p.m.) Tickets are $20 to $30 (reserved seats), plus a $4 ticketing fee. Tickets and additional event information are available at sheridanoperahouse.com or 970-728-6363 x5.

Scroll down for a Sollee sampler, “Pieces of You.”

This year it was Chris Thile who set the stage for the celebrated weekend of music, raising the bar right out of the gate.

Back in 2010, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival honored a young cellist named Ben Sollee, giving him the opening credit.

Festavarians had seen Ben perform with Abigail Washburn and with Bela Fleck in the Sparrow Quartet. But seven years ago, when he stepped onto the Main Stage at 10 a.m., Ben Sollee was alone in the morning sun and relatively unknown.

But he shined, warming the crowd.

Since then, Ben Sollee has returned to Telluride many times, most recently for Mountainfilm.

Why Mountainfilm?

Because the event, a celebration of the indomitable spirit, is all about turning words into action, which defines Ben to a “T.”

In addition to being a world-renowned cellist, singer and composer, Ben Sollee is an environmental activist.

Since 2009, Ben has traveled more than 5,000 miles by bicycle, cycling to live shows with Kay — his rugged cello — strapped to his bike (currently a Surly Big Dummy). As a result of his touring, he has spoken out about sustainability and community-building at South by Southwest and TEDx San Diego.

Dear Companion, his 2010 album, spoke to the negative impact of mountaintop removal coal mining in Central Appalachia and benefitted Appalachian Voices, an organization working against mountaintop removal. The collabortion brought together fellow Kentucky artist Daniel Martin Moore with producer Jim James (My Morning Jacket) to shed light on the issue.

Teaming up with international organizations such as Patagonia Clothing and Oxfam America, Ben has earned a well-deserved reputation as a thoughtful activist and dedicated advocate at shows.

Ben Sollee has toured Europe, performed in a Paul Simon tribute at Carnegie Hall, been a part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, melding Appalachian mountain music with Bach and the blues – and by now, he has played Telluride Bluegrass twice.

Ben returns to town once again, this time to perform at the historic Sheridan Opera House on Friday, August 11, at 9 a.m.

Known for a 360-degree approach to his art, the Kentucky native educates as much as he entertains through his innovative cellist stylings and his genre-bending songwriting. But like his contemporaries Thile and Washburn, his music is difficult to pin down. Following at performance at the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, The New York Times remarked:

“…meticulous, fluent arrangements continually morphed from one thing to another. Appalachian mountain music gave way to the blues, and one song was appended with a fragment from a Bach cello suite, beautifully played.”

Always on the move – literally and metaphorically – however, Ben’s musical career has expanded well beyond the stage.

Ben’s most recent music, “Steeples Pt. 2,” is the second of three parts of an album release of the same name. Dividing up Steeples in that manner, he was able to break the traditional album cycle and deliver a wider range of content to his fans.

In the past year alone, Ben managed to complement the songs of “Steeples Pt.1 and 2” with “The Vanishing Point,” a virtual reality app; film scores like “Maidentrip”; a technology-infused production of “Harold and the Purple Crayon”; an interactive sculptural installation called Livestream, and much more. Plans are to release his first album in four years, Infowars, in late fall.

In addition to film, Ben’s music can also be heard on TV. Shows like ABC’s Parenthood and HBO’s Weeds have placed songs. In 2013, Ben was invited by director Mark Steven Johnson to write a song for the film Killing Season starring John Travolta and Robert De Niro.

Ben Sollee’s innovative artistic portfolio teaches his audience that a modern artist can easily cross boundaries and, in doing that, enhance his reputation.


The Sheridan Arts Foundation was founded in 1991 as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization to preserve the historic Sheridan Opera House as an arts and cultural resource for the Telluride community, to bring quality arts and cultural events to Telluride and to provide local and national youth with access and exposure to the arts through education. The Sheridan Arts Foundation is sponsored in part by grants from the Telluride Foundation, CCAASE and Colorado Creative Industries.

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