The Aspen Music Festival and School’s centerpiece performance venue is getting a new name.
The 2,500-seat music tent is being renamed the “Michael Klein Music Tent,” a nod to a historic gift given to the AMFS by current board chair Michael Klein. The announcement was made on Friday.
“This gift reflects the deepest belief in the mission and work of the AMFS, from one of the world’s most generous and principled philanthropists,” said AMFS President and CEO Alan Fletcher in a statement. “Mike steered the festival through the pandemic with strength and wisdom, and he gives this gesture of belief and confidence at the perfect moment, at the beginning of our 75th anniversary season.”
For most of its history, the performance venue has been known simply as the “Music Tent” or, further back, the “Aspen Amphitheater.”
The original Music Tent was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and debuted at the Goethe Bicentennial in 1949, seating 900 to 1,000 people on its benches. It was disassembled and reassembled for use every summer until 1965, when it was replaced by a structure designed by Bauhaus designer-artist Herbert Bayer and Fritz Benedict.
In 1993, it was dedicated with its first official name, the “Bayer Benedict Tent." When the next generation of the tent, designed by Harry Teague, opened in 2000, it became the Benedict Music Tent in honor of Benedict’s longtime board membership and leadership.
Benedict’s name will grace the tent’s main entrance. Called the “Benedict Entrance,” it will remain in place during the duration of the use of the existing tent structure.
Klein’s gift is the second largest in the institution’s history, according to the announcement, which noted it comes when AMFS is investing significant funds to renovate the nearly 24-year-old structure and is planning for increased operating costs while expanding its community-based music education programs.
The Aspen Music Festival is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2024.
“We are grateful to Mike for leading us into our next 25 years this way, and we remain grateful to Fritz Benedict and others who gave so much of themselves to make the festival what it is today,” Fletcher said. “I hope everyone in Aspen can join us for our 75th-anniversary community party before our opening Sunday concert next summer to celebrate the many people who together have made this institution truly great.”
The philanthropist Klein, who has a background as a securities lawyer, has been coming to Aspen for more than 40 years. He lives in Aspen and Washington, D.C. A longtime board member of AMFS, he has been the board chair since 2018. He also sits on the board of The Aspen Institute.
“It is an honor to be able to give a gift like this to an organization I believe in so much,” Klein said in a statement. “Having watched the miraculous work of the young musicians of the festival and school close-up, literally, for more than 30 years, I am convinced that the work here is some of the world’s most inspiring and uplifting. The world needs the brilliant, hopeful work of our young musicians, faculty and visiting artists, and I’m proud to be able to support it this way.”
By: Aspen Daily News Staff I December 11, 2023