Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Mile High Voltage Festival tries to redefine classical music

The Mile High Voltage Festival, featuring artists from the Cantaloupe Music Label, takes place Feb. 19 and 20 at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. The event explores the ways popular and alternative music can change perceptions of what kind of music can be considered “classical.”

“We want classical music fans to come, see and hear what this new generation of artists is creating,” says Stephen Seifert, executive director of the Newman Center. “We want fans of world music and jazz and indie rock and pop music to come, see and hear that today’s classical musicians don’t necessarily cloister themselves in tradition or academia, but rather that they are happily influenced by the joys of many different genres of music.”

The festival encourages a nontraditional concert hall experience. Attendees can use mobile devices to tweet updates, send text messages or Google while enjoying the music.

“The festival is a unique opportunity to hear an unparalleled assemblage of musical leaders and innovators in Denver’s best performance venue,” Seifert says.

Attendees also can visit the Cantaloupe Café, where food and drink will be offered. The performance from the concert hall will be simulcast in the café.

Performers at the festival include:

Burkina Electric

A band from West Africa led by Artistic Director Lukas Ligeti mingles the traditions and rhythms of African country Burkina Faso with contemporary electronic dance culture.

Evan Ziporyn
A composer and clarinetist, Ziporyn is a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and an expert at Balinese gamelan.

Sō Percussion

A quartet of young percussionists and composers who have performed music all over the world, Sō will perform its new work, “Imaginary City.” The work will be played on a percussion instrument constructed on stage during the work and will include video featuring reflections and images of Denver and other co-commissioning cities.

Michael Harrison
Harrison is a pianist who has tuned the piano using his own Pythagorean system of intonation, resulting in an experience of overtones more akin to Indian music than Western classical music.

Andy Akiho
Akiho is an award-winning young composer and steel pan performer who was recently featured on PBS’ “News Hour with Jim Lehrer.”

The Playground
A group primarily made up of master’s students from DU’s Lamont School of Music, The Playground will play music by Bang On a Can composers David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, plus music by Conrad Kehn.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20, with a free “Behind the Curtain” lecture at 6:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $15–$18. Two-day passes can be purchased for $38, and include free parking. Tickets can be purchased through the Newman Center and Ritchie Center box offices, and at Ticketmaster box offices. For more information, call the Newman Center at 303-871-7720 or visit


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