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Aspen Music Festival Announces Major Gift

The festival and school have named their main performance venue after the donor of its second-largest gift

 

A center for classical music performance and training, the Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival and School (AFMS) has named its Music Tent concert hall in honor of its board chair and latest major donor, Michael Klein.

Klein’s gift is the second largest in the institution’s history — to honor this donation, and in recognition of his history of financial and leadership contributions, AFMS’s 2,050-seat concert venue will be known as the Michael Klein Music Tent for the next two decades. 

This gift comes ahead of the AMFS’s 75th anniversary in summer 2024, and marks the beginning of a fundraising campaign to begin in the new year, which will invest in AFMS for the coming 25 years.

This is the third name of the AMFS Music Tent in its history, recognizing Klein’s six years of board leadership and decades of investment in the festival. The main entrance will continue to honor Fritz Benedict (one of its architects and board members) with a panel describing his role in the AMFS’s history installed at the Benedict Entrance.

The original Music Tent was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and was first used at the Goethe Bicentennial in 1949. Its newer structure was built in 2000. 

Funds from Klein’s donation will go toward renovating the concert venue, increasing costs for operating and housing, plus expanding AFMS’s community-based music education programs. 

An innovator in both business and philanthropy, Klein has long been on the board of the AMFS and has served as board chair since 2018. Additionally, he sits on the board of The Aspen Institute.

“It is an honor to be able to give a gift like this to an organization I believe in so much,” Klein said. “Having watched the miraculous work of the young musicians of the festival and school close-up, literally, for more than thirty years, I am convinced that the work here is some of the world’s most inspiring and uplifting. The world needs the brilliant, hopeful work of our young musicians, faculty and visiting artists, and I’m proud to be able to support it this way.”

“This gift reflects the deepest belief in the mission and work of the AMFS, from one of the world’s most generous and principled philanthropists,” added AMFS president and CEO Alan Fletcher. “Mike steered the festival through the pandemic with strength and wisdom, and he gives this gesture of belief and confidence at the perfect moment, at the beginning of our 75th anniversary season. This milestone anniversary is the perfect time to both honor our roots and invest in our future, a key balance at every nonprofit.”

“We are grateful to Mike for leading us into our next 25 years this way, and we remain grateful to Fritz Benedict and others who gave so much of themselves to make the festival what it is today,” Fletcher continued. “I hope everyone in Aspen can join us for our 75th anniversary community party before our opening Sunday concert next summer to celebrate the many people who together have made this institution truly great.”

 

Around 500 music students from 40 U.S. states and 40 countries attend the AFMS each summer to perform and study with over 100 artist-faculty members hailing from the orchestras of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, the Metropolitan Orchestra, and music schools such as The Juilliard School, The Shepherd School of Music, and The Colburn School. 

Renowned alumni include violinists Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Midori, Gil Shaham, and Robert McDuffie; conductors Marin Alsop, James Conlon, Leonard Slatkin, and Joshua Weilerstein; cellist Alisa Weilerstein; guitarist Sharon Isbin; and bassist Edgar Meyer.

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