Founded in 1949, the Aspen Music Festival and School is regarded as one of the top classical music festivals in the United States, noted both for its concert programming and its musical training of mostly young- adult music students. The typical eight-week summer season includes more than 300 musical events— including concerts by five orchestras, solo and chamber music performances, fully staged opera productions, master classes, lectures, and children’s programming—and brings in 70,000 audience members. In the winter, the AMFS presents a small series of recitals and Metropolitan Opera Live in HD screenings.
The Aspen Music Festival and School offers musicians a choice of twelve programs of study: Orchestra, Brass Quintet Studies, Solo Piano, Collaborative Piano, Opera Coaching, the Aspen Opera Center, the Aspen Conducting Academy, the Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies, and Classical Guitar.
The Benedict Music Tent, which opened in 2000, is the Festival’s primary concert venue and seats 2,050. Concerts are held in the Benedict Music Tent on a nearly daily basis during the summer, an...d seating on the lawn just outside the Tent, where many choose to picnic during events, is always free. The design has open sides; the curving roof is made of Teflon-coated fiberglass, a hard material also used by the Denver International Airport.
The 500-seat Joan and Irving Harris Concert Hall is located next door to the Benedict Music Tent and was opened in 1993 at a cost of $7 million. The Wheeler Opera House—a Victorian-era venue owned by the City of Aspen—is the home to Aspen Opera Center productions in the summer and the AMFS’s Metropolitan Opera Live in HD screenings in the winter.