45th Annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Now at The Palm, 8/7-8/12

45th Annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Now at The Palm, 8/7-8/12

The 45th annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival opens on Tuesday, August 7, 5 p.m., with a picnic in the Telluride Town Park. Regular concerts take place at the Michael D. Palm Theater (for the very first time). They begin on Thursday, August 9, 7:30 p.m. There is no evening performance Friday night, however, a Children’s Concert, also at The Palm, is happening at 11 a.m. Chamber concerts continue on Saturday and Sunday, August 10 & August 11, 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $30 for adults; $15 for students are available here, at the Telluride Music Store or at the door prior to each performance ($35). The VIP passes. $80, include reserved seating in first five rows for all three performances.


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.

Telluride Chamber Music Festival co-founder/pianist Robin Sutherland, once summed up chamber music today perfectly:

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

Robin Sutherland & Roy Malan, the outstanding musicians who co-founded the Telluride Chamber Music Festival in 1974.

The term “chamber music” still conjures a small group of people – more than one, but fewer than 15 – performing centuries-old masterworks in an intimate space without a conductor. And, for aficionados, the genre is the height of cultural aspiration: emotional, intellectual, and political dramas played out in sound. For everyone else, however, “art music” is quaint or worse, dull. At least part of the problem is the name: when all too many people hear the word “classical,”they think “Dead White Men” and “not relevant.”

If you find yourself in the “everyone else/not relevant” camp, this year you should give the Telluride Chamber Music Association a chance.

The Telluride Chamber Music Festival is an annual celebration of timeless classical chamber music, which continues to draw renowned artists from across the United States to our valley. Festival programs and concerts are designed to bring classical music to a broad spectrum of listeners – that includes you – whether you are just beginning to enjoy the genre or consider yourself a classical sophisticate.

New for the 2018 festival, all performances are being held at the Michael D. Palm Theatre Complex, with the exception of the Free Concert in the Park on Tuesday, August 8th.

“We are ecstatic to be presenting this years festival at the Palm Arts Complex,” says Telluride Chamber Music Association Board of Directors President Warner Paige. “Staying in one venue allows the artists to really explore the sound of that particular space and fine tune their performances.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to have such an amazing group of artists performing in the Palm Arts spaces,” says Palm Arts Programming and Development Director Chris Vann. “The musical brilliance these artists bring to Telluride is absolutely world class and we hope everyone can come out and celebrate this art form with us.”

Telluride Chamber Music, a short history:

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.

“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.

Violinist Roy 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-five to be exact.

45th Annual Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Bios:

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 has been heard by thousands every evening in the grand ballet solos of literature, which includes most of the major violin concertos. Herb Cain wrote that these solos alone were worth the price of admission. Colleagues have described him as the last of the romantics whose sound alone could identify him. As the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players’ premier violist for as many years, Malan has 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. His training at the Curtis Institute under Efrem Zimbalist and at Juilliard has provided Malan with the necessary wherewithal. Additional mentors included Yehudi Menuhin and Oscar Shumsky. As a teacher he has placed students in most of the Bay Area’s orchestras and chamber groups. In addition he directs a summer chamber music festival in Telluride, Colorado, and is the author of an acclaimed biography of his teacher Zimbalist, who bequeathed Malan his favorite French concert bows.

Robin Sutherland, piano & co-Artistic Director ~ Robin 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, held 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, Robin Sutherland co- founded the Telluride Chamber Music Festival and is a regular performer at the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. Many composers have dedicated works to him, and among the world premieres in which he has participated was that of John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music, with members of the SFS. A frequent soloist with the SFS, Robin Sutherland has been featured in Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

Stephen Harrison, cello ~ founding member of the Ives Collective and a member of the Stanford University faculty since 1983, Harrison is a graduate of Oberlin College and Boston University where he received the Award for Distinction in Graduate Performance. Former principal cellist of the Opera Company of Boston, the New England Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Symphony of San Francisco, he has performed on NPR, the BBC and on both the German and the Netherlands State Radio.

Susan Freier, violin ~ Susan earned graduate degrees in music from Stanford and the Eastman School of Music, where she was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic. Before joining the Stanford faculty and the Ives Quartet (formerly the Stanford String Quartet) in 1989, she performed with the award-winning Chester Quartet. Ms. Freier has been a participant at the Aspen, Grand Teton, and Mendocino Music Festivals, has served on the faculties of Garth Newell and Rocky Ridge Music Center, and has been on the artist faculty of the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy. She joined the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in 1993 and is currently co-artistic director of the Ives Collective and on the faculty at SoCal Chamber Music Workshop.

Nancy Ellis, viola ~ Nancy is a member of the San Francisco Symphony and the Chamber Soloist of San Francisco. She received her B.A. in music at Mills College. She has performed at the Telluride, Cheltenham, Ojai, and Marlboro Music Festivals and remains the violist most in demand the Bay area chamber music circles.

Polly Malan, viola ~ a frequent recitalist and performer of new works for viola, Polly Malan has played as Principal Violist with San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra. Polly has also played with the San Francisco Opera, San Jose and Monterey Symphonies.

Carlos Ortega, clarinet, recently earned his master’s in clarinet performance in the studio of Jon Manasse at Florida’s Lynn University.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.