A spring living room | Culture & Leisure

Musical performances take place all around us in the San Juans: in the vast auditoriums, the local opera houses and, especially in the summer, the city parks.

This was not always the case. Until around 1850, most concerts were held in smaller, more intimate spaces. “The Salon Concert was particularly popular in the 19and Century,” points out classical music website Interlude, “a format that would have been thoroughly familiar to composers like Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt.”

The living room — where a small group gathers in a private home to enjoy good music, food and drink, and relaxed conversation — was a favored format of the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild until recently. a few years old.

The pandemic has changed all that.

It also – repeatedly – changed who OCPAG could bring in.

“We’ve booked, and re-booked, and un-booked, and re-booked multiple times,” classical guitarist Jack Cimo, who will finally play in the San Juans next Sunday afternoon, said Heather Greisz, executive director of the ‘OCPAG.

Securing a private home for a lounge gig, especially when booking an artist ahead of time, remains a trickier proposition, however.

“We had planned for Jack to perform at a private home in March 2020, and of course we had to cancel,” Greisz recalled. “We are finally able to make it work.”

That’s because they got a new space, a unique location for now: next week’s concert will be on the lower level of Citizens State Bank, Ouray.

“We’ll give it a try,” Greisz said. “It’s a nice open space, and another good thing is that no one has to clean their house so we can have a gig! There’s plenty of good parking and easy access. We offer you our lounges with wines and aperitifs afterwards; it will be nice to bring everyone together in a more intimate setting and give everyone a chance to visit.

The Cimo concert heralds the return of OCPAG’s spring-summer lineup. This includes the return of the arts group’s signature event of the year, the much-loved San Juan Chamber Musicfest, under the direction of concert pianist Max Levinson, in August.

“We’re looking to do it all” MusicFest is known for, Greisz said — which means, at the very least, a free kids’ concert, a classic cafe, a dinner lounge, and a festival concert. “We will definitely have these four main events. And Max has gathered a whole group! He was able to lock up a pretty impressive quartet to perform.

Between next week and August, more music awaits, as well as a theatrical performance. On April 22, “We are co-sponsoring the play ‘Death of a Pugilist’ at the Sherbino Theater,” Greisz said. The story “draws on musical elements from contrapuntal Bach, minimalist Philip Glass, blues and Irish folk music,” according to a description of the production.

“We will also be co-sponsors of Fête de la Musique, the second annual celebration of street music in downtown Ridgway in June, “and at the Wright Opera House in July we will host Train Station, a group of Denver bluegrass.”

After two seasons off, Greisz is happily pondering the possibilities.

“Since I came on board” as general manager, she said, “I thought: we have to bring other things!”

“And here we are!” she added, invoking the buoyant spirit of 2022 and OCPAG’s new lineup.

“Ready or not, here we go!”

Classical guitarist Jack Cimo performs at an afternoon lounge on Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. at the lower level of Citizens State Bank, Ouray. To purchase tickets and learn about upcoming Ouray County Performing Arts Guild events, visit ocpag.org.

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