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The Colorado College Summer Music Festival (and Conservatory): 1984-2019

In 2019 the Colorado College Summer Music Festival celebrated 35 years of providing the highest caliber educational experience for pre-professional musicians along with world-class chamber orchestra concerts for the Colorado College and Colorado Springs community.  The festival was founded by conductor and music director of the Fort Worth Symphony, John Giordano, Elmer Peterson, dean of the Summer Session, and Michael Grace, chair of the Music department and first festival director.  Susan Grace, the musical director, took over in 1987.  Since then, many brilliant performers and gifted student musicians have been summer guests at the college.

The 35th anniversary seemed like an ideal time to look back at how this all got started and has evolved since the first sounds in 1984. That summer there were special presentations, lobby exhibits, and social media postings.  On this page, you will find links to the festival's history, excerpts from interviews with festival artists, fellows, and supporters, and blogs and reviews from the 2019 summer festival.

All interviews and stories were conducted and written by longtime Colorado Springs journalist and arts advocate David Sckolnik.

35 Years of SMF---Snapshots---Festival Highlights---Up Close with the Musicians---Peak Radar Reviews---ArtsPeak Audio---Interviews

David Sckolnik on 35 Years of SMF

Here David takes us through the day-to-day of the festival with the following blog posts and photos.

SMF35 Blog - Day One

SMF35 Blog - Day Two

SMF35 Blog - the Festival at 35, live!

A Collection of Snapshots

Festival Highlights

Up Close With the Musicians

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Peak Radar Reviews

ArtsPeak for Southern Colorado

From 1997-2003 KCME-FM aired the arts interview/review program "ArtsPeak for Southern Colorado" every week. Host and creator David Sckolnik reviewed a panorama of public art offerings and the program was always certain to include reviews of the Summer Music Festival's Festival Artists Concerts.

Here are five of them as they sounded when first aired.

ArtsPeak Review - June 27, 1997

ArtsPeak Review - June 26, 1999

ArtsPeak Review - June 24, 2000

ArtsPeak Review - June 23, 2001

ArtsPeak Review - June 22. 2002

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Festival Founders, Faculty, & Supporters

For best viewing, make the videos full screen.

Michael Grace begins at the beginning...

Current music director Susan Grace took over in 1987...

Bill Hochman was Summer Session Dean at the time...

Festival supporters Libby Rittenberg and Nasit Ari have been big fans for decades...

Stefan Hersh tried to leave the festival, but it called him back...

Nasit tells us more...

Bill Wolfram talks about conductors...

Ginny Barron is both associate director and viola faculty...

Bassoon faculty Michael Kroth talks about the festival's adventurous programming...

Festival conductor and violin faculty Scott Yoo talks about the culture of learning at the festival...

Scott talks about the fellows' experience in the orchestra...

Jon Manasse on the festival family...

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Report an issue - Last updated: 11/12/2021