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Rocky Mountain Weekender: Music in the mountains

Eric Peterson //July 23, 2010//

Rocky Mountain Weekender: Music in the mountains

Eric Peterson //July 23, 2010//

The moment virtuoso violinist Vadim Gluzman first draws his bow across the stings of his 1690 Stradivarius, my worries melt away.

I’d gotten caught in traffic, the sun bearing down, and almost missed the concert, one of the first Music in the Mountains events held in Durango proper instead of a half-hour north at Durango Mountain Resort at Purgatory. But the traffic unstuck and I made it with time to spare, including check-in and a quick shower at the Rochester Hotel downtown. And as I listen to the first strains of Gluzman’s take on Profokiev in the Concert Hall on the campus of Fort Lewis College, my dash to Durango becomes an afterthought.

The night’s chamber-music concert finishes with a Gluzman-led quintet playing a flashy late 19th-century piece by Cesar Frank. The sonic equivalent of fireworks draws a standing ovation.

After a late dinner at Steamworks Brewery, I call it a night. The next day I take one of the Rochester’s complimentary loaner cruiser bicycles and ride the Animas River Trail to the north side of Durango and back. Then I drive over Molas Pass to Silverton.

My first stop: the San Juan Historical Society Museum. The converted San Juan County Jail now houses not only jail cells outfitted like they were a century ago (think canvas hammocks and balls and chains), as well as exhibits detailing the area’s mining history and some unusual odds and ends.

After a quiche of the day at the aptly named Stellar Bakery and Pizzeria, I mosey over to Montanya Rum distillery, where the bar serves free tasters of the state’s highest micro-distillery as well as a lengthy list of creative rum cocktails. The rum ages in barrels that first held Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey in Denver-the dark rum comes from the first time a barrel is used, tasting room manager Lizzie tells me, and the light rum comes from barrels previously used to age a batch of dark.

On my drive back south over Molas Pass, I stop and hike a few miles on the Colorado Trail. In clear focus in front of the San Juans, the intense wildflower display is a visual analog to Gluzman’s violin the night before.

Back in Durango, I head to the Palace Restaurant next to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot for trout almadine before strolling the picture-perfect downtown and settling in for a nightcap at the Irish Embassy Pub.

The next day, I get in another hike, this one in in the Weminuche Wilderness Area along Vallecito Creek about 30 miles west of Durango. The superlative scenery lures me down the trail, but Gluzman is playing an early show with the full orchestra under the big top at Durango Mountain Resort, and I don’t want to cut it as close as I had two nights prior. And like the wildflowers on Molas Pass, the performance, highlighted by Gluzman’s transcendent rendition of a Mozart violin concerto, does not disappoint.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Music in the Mountains: The annual summer series continues until August 1 at venues at Durango, Durango Mountain Resort, and Pagosa Springs. (970) 385-6820; www.musicinthemountains.com.

Rochester Hotel: (970) 385-1920; www.rochesterhotel.com.

Irish Embassy Pub: (970) 403-1200; www.theirishembassy.com.

Montanya Rum Distillers: (970) 799-3206; www.montanyarum.com.

Palace Restaurant: (970) 247-2018; www.palacedurango.com.

Durango Mountain Resort at Purgatory: (970) 247-9000, www.durangomountainresort.com.

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