To: The Open Forum
Silvia Pettem’s recent column about the changes over time of the Colorado Music Festival at Chautauqua throws a fine light on changes in Boulder itself.
Pettem reminds us of the astonishing intellectual reach of conductor Giora Bernstein’s work beginning in 1979. He imagined that, with the orchestra at the heart of it all, the summer festival could come to grips with many of the most troubling issues of the day.
Powerful people would speak and committed people would listen and think hard ideas. It would be like that first Aspen Festival of 1949 with Albert Schweitzer playing Bach and Thomas Mann lecturing on… the world at large.
Might not we call this period, the Classical Period in Boulder’s singular history, when the intellectual life of the community was still in intimate touch with the great radical, and cultural traditions of Europe, a time when there were real radicals in Boulder.
It was a darker time, after WWII, a more somber intellectual time.
Maestro Bernstein was like that himself, a dour, brilliant, central European intellectual.
Now Boulder is again caught up in change. And the Colorado Music Festival exemplifies it. Michael Christie confines his proud orchestra to the pleasures and ideas of music itself and does not insist on broad reaches of thought connecting the music to the body social and politic. The festival is brighter, lighter, some would say more fun, than in that more severe Classical Period of the old radicalism.
In this New Period in Boulder’s life and times, the old radicals
have transmogrified into young, ebullient, Obama, regular green
Democrats. They are new and home-grown, unmoved by European traditions of thought, art, and social action. They are probably more ingenuously “American” than ever and probably happier. But are they as exciting and tough as those who went before?
Gordon M. Wickstrom