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In the world of 20th-century composition, George Crumb stands alone. Known for reimagining the roles of instruments in the modern orchestra and freeing the musical score itself from its rectangular bonds, he's a Pulitzer Prize winner who's whimsically written for marbles pinging among piano strings, amplified violins and musicians who come and go in the course of a single work, among other things. Now eighty, the onetime CU-Boulder music professor will return to the campus for a full-blown tribute, the four-day George Crumb at 80 Music Festival, which kicks off today at the Imig Music Building with a panel discussion, lecture and faculty concert.
The evening concerts are, of course, the festival's true highlights, including a Pendulum Series recital tomorrow in Grusin Music Hall; Thursday night's staging of "Sun and Shadow," "Celestial Mechanics" and "The Ghosts of Alhambra," also in Grusin Hall; and Crumb as Inspiration on Friday at the ATLAS building, where a video of Crumb's beautiful handwritten spiral scores and other images will constantly flash on a video wall throughout the fest. And, as an aside, Crumb will once again be in the spotlight when CU artists-in-residence the Kronos Quartet perform his "Black Angels" in October.