The summer program also includes fan favorites ‘Topilow Pops’ and Star Wars film feature

Nobody can argue that the power of an orchestra is akin to a force of nature. Certain musical numbers can sweep you away like a storm at sea, evoke visuals of a roaring river funneling into a glistening stream, a flock of birds hammering into the sky and soaring away in perfect symmetry or encapsulate a sunrise coming over the Ten Mile Range as it steadily breathes light across the surrounding landscape.

Celebrating the many connections between humans and the natural world, the National Repertory Orchestra’s theme for its summer 2024 concert season is Elements of Nature.

“We’ve created a season of music that encapsulates what it is to be in Breckenridge. Elements of Nature is a play on words, referencing water, fire, earth, but it’s really about what we connect with – the mountains, the river, the birds’ songs, experiencing nature,” says National Repertory Orchestra CEO Dave DePeters. “Music in general is about connecting, making those connections between shared experiences that we all have.”

The summer program features a broad gamut of well-known and lesser-known compositions, all guaranteed to evoke powerful emotions and paint an auditory picture of nature’s allure. Take, for example, the opening number of the season on June 22 conducted by Leonard Slatkin, Bedřich Smetana’s “Vltava: The Moldau.”

The most renowned of Smetana’s six symphonic poems written in 1874 depicting his homeland during the Astro-Hungarian Empire, the piece focuses on the flow of The Vltava (or Moldau) River.

“He was talking about different aspects of his Bohemian countryside, the human experience. It’s about not just observing the river, but being swept up in it. It’s a beautiful account, your ability to see the details of the river stream down as the light recedes at the end of the day. It gets harder and harder, because the light is going, but you can still see the shimmer on the water as it gets further away,” explains NRO Music Director Michael Stern. “The music gets quiet and slows down just a little bit. It’s so touching and reinforces the idea that music can be descriptive in how it evokes a feeling. It takes you to this place. That’s how we approach every program, with the natural place we want to bring the audience.”

The theme appears throughout the summer. Stern conducts Tchaikovsky on June 29, the show launching with Jean Sibelius’ “The Oceanides,” followed by Gustav Mahler’s “What the Flowers in the Meadows Tell Me.” On July 10, the entire performance falls under the umbrella of “Light, Fire and Water,” culminating in Claude Debussy’s all-enveloping “La Mer.” Stern conducts Beethoven’s famed “Pastorale” on July 20 while guest conductor Matthias Pintscher makes his NRO debut in what is sure to be a moving performance featuring Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” on July 24. Stern’s performances in Vail on July 26 (in conjunction with the Vail Dance Festival) and in Breckenridge July 27 showcase the best of Tchaikovsky’s strings, also Michael Abels’ thought-provoking “Global Warming” and Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes.”

Internationally acclaimed, GRAMMY-nominated conductor Karina Canellakis returns to Breckenridge to lead the July 31 performance built around riveting pieces by Richard Wagner

and Johannes Brahms while fellow globally lauded guest conductor Robert Moody returns for the second season in a row for the Aug. 3 performance highlighting Jean Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 5.”

The summer lineup also takes a couple of delightful theme detours, including the popular July 4 performances as well as Topilow Pops on July 6, all led by NRO Music Director Laureate Carl Topilow. Also, much heralded guest conductor Jason Seber returns for this summer’s orchestra-to-film performance, featuring the iconic Star Wars: A New Hope.

Doubling down on the nature theme in cosmic fashion to wrap up the season, Stern conducts Gustav Holt’s “The Planets” on Aug. 7 and closes with a truly grand finale, Richard Strauss’ “Alpine Symphony” on Aug. 10.

“‘Alpine Symphony’ is a sonic spectacular. It’s like Beethoven’s ‘Pastorale.’ They are not pieces about nature. They are pieces about our human experience in nature,” Stern says. “Beethoven was not writing about a storm, he was writing about being in a storm. ‘Alpine Symphony’ is a one-day trek that Strauss documents; good weather, bad weather, coming down the rocky part of the trail. They’re personal evocations of what music makes you feel in nature, about us, as human beings, being awed by nature. I’m excited about every single one of these performances.”

The 2024 NRO season launches June 22 at The Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Season Passes go on sale March 15 and Tickets go on sale April 1. For tickets and more information about the summer lineup, view the “events” section of our website.