Musical performances take place all around us in the San Juans: in sprawling auditoriums, local opera houses and, in summer time especially, town parks.
This wasn’t always the case. Until around 1850 or so, most concerts took place in smaller, more intimate spaces. “The Salon Concert was particularly popular in the 19th Century,” the classical-music website Interlude points out, “a format which would have been entirely familiar to composers like Schubert, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt.”
The salon — where a small group convenes in a private home to enjoy fine music, food and drink, and relaxed conversation — has been a favored format of the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild up until a couple of years ago.
The pandemic changed all that.
It also — repeatedly — changed who OCPAG could bring in.
“We have booked, and rebooked, and unbooked, and rebooked several times” classical guitarist Jack Cimo, who at last will play in the San Juans next Sunday afternoon, said Heather Greisz, OCPAG’s executive director.
Securing a private home for a salon concert, particularly when you are booking an artist in advance, remains a trickier proposition, though.
“We had Jack slated to perform in a private home in March of 2020, and of course had to cancel,” Greisz recalled. “We’re finally able to make it work.”
That’s because they’ve secured a new space, a one-time-only place for now: the concert next week will be held in the lower level of Citizens State Bank, in Ouray.
“We’re going to try it,” Greisz said. “It’s a nice open space, and another nice thing is, no one has to clean their house for us to hold a concert in! There’s lots of good parking, and easy access. We offer our salons with wine and appetizers afterwards; it will be nice to get everybody back together in a more intimate setting, and give everyone a chance to visit.”
The concert by Cimo heralds the return of OCPAG’s spring-and-summer programming. 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 at doing everything” MusicFest is known for, Greisz said — meaning, at the least, a free children’s concert, a classical café, a dinner salon and a festival concert. “We’ll definitely have those four core events. And Max has assembled quite the group! He was able to lock in a pretty impressive quartet to perform.”
Between next week and August, more music awaits, and a theater performance, as well. On April 22, “We’re cosponsoring the play ‘Death of a Pugilist’ at the Sherbino Theater,” Greisz said. The story “draws from the musical elements of contrapuntal Bach, minimalist Philip Glass, blues and Irish folk music,” according to a description of the production.
“We’ll also be cosponsors of Fete de la Musique,” the second annual celebration of street music in downtown Ridgway in June, “and at the Wright Opera House in July, we’ll host Train Station, a bluegrass group from Denver. ”
After two seasons of shutdowns, Greisz is happily pondering the possibilities.
“Since I came on board” as executive director, she said, “I’ve been thinking: we have to bring some other stuff in!”
“And here we are!” she added, summoning the can-do spirit of 2022, and OCPAG’s fresh programming.
“Ready or not, here we go!”
Classical guitarist Jack Cimo performs at an afternoon salon next Sunday, April 10 at 3 pm in the lower level of Citizens State Bank, Ouray. For tickets and to learn more about the Ouray County Performing Arts Guild’s upcoming events, visit ocpag.org.