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Music in the Mountains goes on the road

Music in the Mountains, Southwest Colorado’s inimitable summer festival, will launch its 2021 season with a spanking new, green-and-white traveling music wagon and free mini-concerts. The mobile stage has a comfy platform space that opens to seat some of the world-class musicians that descend on us every summer. The traveling wagon has yet to have a nickname, but it deserves something catchy and creative.

Launching its 35th season, MiTM decided to start off with seven free mini-concerts on the road before the first big sit-down benefit on July 15. That’s the formal beginning of the festival, and it sports a $200 ticket price as it is scheduled at the luxury Keyah Grande (Big Country) Guest House outside Pagosa Springs.

“Only 100 tickets will be sold,” MiTM Executive Director Angie Beach said recently. “It’s a nod to our past relationship with Pagosa Springs with a hope that there will be a renewed relationship with that special community in the future.”

But before the technically official and glittering launch, three chamber groups will be trundling around the roads between Durango, Ignacio, Bayfield and Cortez. Now’s the time to toss a lawn chair, water bottle and sunscreen into the car and listen to some great music.

The “On the Road” project functions something like medieval traveling performers who came into a town early announcing the arrival of a more complete company of festival performers and programs.

Thanks to First Southwest Bank, Beach said, “for writing the big check that allowed us to build the stage. It’s a very highly engineered mobile stage that we’ll take all over the region to perform free community concerts. We’re calling this the ‘Road Show.’”

The pre-festival Road Show starts at noon July 12, in Shoshone Park, Ignacio, with the MiTM String Ensemble. Later that afternoon at 5:30 p.m., the string musicians will presumably repeat the program in Durango’s Buckley Park.

At 10 a.m. July 13, the Woodwinds Ensemble will perform in the Town Park of Pagosa Springs. Two more traveling shows will round out the day: At 2 p.m., the musicians will perform in Stephenson Park off Mill Street in Bayfield; and at 5:30 p.m., the woodwinds will serenade people in Durango’s Buckley Park.

The MiTM Brass Ensemble is on deck for July 14. Trumpet, trombone, French horn and maybe a tuba will play at 1 p.m. at the Durango Public Library. Later, at 5:30 p.m., the ensemble will reconvene and perform in Cortez’s Parque De Vida.

Plan smartly and you can hear each of the ensembles at least once in the three-day pre-festival road show.

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