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A wagonload of music

The Music in the Mountains mobile stage is seen during at the Durango Public Library in 2021. (Courtesy of Judith Reynolds)

A snazzy, green-and-white traveling performance wagon will launch Music in the Mountains’ 36th season Thursday. At 11 a.m. in Boyle Park, Mancos, the wagon will unfold and reveal the festival’s Brass Ensemble. If this isn’t as close to an American summer tradition as you can get, what is?

The festival’s “On the Road” project functions something like Medieval traveling performers who arrived in a village early in order to announce a more complete company of performers later.

“Thanks to First Southwest Bank for writing the big check that allowed us to build our mobile stage,” said MiTM Executive Director Angie Beach. Mounted on a truck bed, the boxlike stage easily accommodates a brass or woodwind quintet or a string quartet.

The free performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday will feature those groups and trumpet the official festival opening scheduled for July 14, a more formal chamber concert at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez.

The MiTM mobile stage will trundle into Mancos, Bayfield, Durango, Ignacio and Pagosa Springs to entertain listeners. The Festival Brass Ensemble performs Thursday beginning in Mancos, then driving to the gardens of the Durango Public Library for a 2 p.m. appearance, then the players move on to Bayfield’s Joe Stephenson Park at 6:30 p.m.

On Friday, the Festival Woodwind Ensemble will perform in Cottonwood Park, next to Animas Valley Elementary School in Durango. The afternoon performance is at 2 p.m. at the Durango/La Plata Senior Center, and the group will make music in Durango’s Buckley Park at 6:30 p.m.

On Saturday, you can hear an entirely different program with the Festival String Ensemble at 11 a.m. in Ignacio’s Shoshone Park. The mobile stage will drive on to Pagosa Springs, where the strings will play at 2 p.m. in the Town Park. Returning to Durango’s Buckley Park, the musicians will close out the mobile stage performances at 6:30 p.m.

Each program is scheduled to run about 45 minutes with introductions of the players and the music.

If you plan well, you can hear each of the three ensembles, but it will take a little driving. It’s a smart idea to bring a hat, a water bottle and your own lawn chair.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.