The 2013 Holiday Concert put on by the College of Music in Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado Boulder. Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado

The Music Scene on the CU Campus

Mackey Auditorium
Mackey Auditorium at CU Boulder. Photo by Kaitlyn Payne

If you’re looking for good music, head to campus.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s campus is the source of some of the city’s best performances. The root of much of that talent is the College of Music, which brings more than 400 musical events to Boulder every year, from concerts to full operas to the annual Colorado Shakespeare Festival. The umbrella organization behind these productions is called CU Presents, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

Here is a look at just some of the ways you can use the University of Colorado to fill your musical needs.

Boulder’s Ultimate Guide to Music & Entertainment

This article is part of a larger series. To see all the articles in this Ultimate Guide, click here.

Where to Go

The four main venues where you can catch a show on campus are Macky Auditorium, University Theatre, Grusin Music Hall and the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre. You can occasionally see shows in other locations around campus, too, such as in the University Memorial Center.

The Artist Series

For more than 80 years, The Artist Series has brought world-famous dancers and jazz, world music and classical musicians to Boulder. Highlights this year: Joshua Bell, Martha Graham Dance, Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Yekwon Sunwoo. (That’s the winner of the equivalent of the Olympic games for piano.) Also see famous violinist Joshua Bell and the Quicksilver Baroque Ensemble. Look for the annual Artist Series holiday concert in December.

Colorado Shakespeare Festival
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival at the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre.
Photo by Zachary Andrews

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival

For 60 years now, a professional theater company has brought Shakespeare’s great works to Boulder’s outdoor stage, the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, so the audience can watch the show under the summer stars. The shows are high production and aim to be as authentic to the original intention as possible. The festival also offers camps and classes for kids. It’s a truly only-in-Boulder experience to watch “Hamlet” on the magical outdoor stage.

The Takács Quartet. Photo by Keith Saunders

The Takács Quartet

Boulder is so lucky to have The Takács Quartet on campus. This world-renowned, Grammy-winning string quartet has been performing in Boulder for about 30 years. These shows often sell out and for good reason. They’re high caliber.

Starting in the fall and running through late April, catch the quarter’s five-program season. For something extra special, watch the Altius Quartet, this year’s annual guest quartet. The group’s first ever show in Boulder as a professional group is scheduled for January.

The Eklund Opera Program

CU also has a strong opera program. Highlights for 2017 include “The Merry Widow,” by Franz Lehar, in the fall; “Sweeney Todd,” by Stephen Sondheim in the spring (for the first time ever at CU); and “Ariodante,” by George Frideric Handel late April, as the annual chamber opera production.

The 2013 Holiday Concert put on by the College of Music in Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado Boulder. Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado

The Holiday Festival

The annual, family-friendly Holiday Festival is something Boulder looks forward to. It’s CU’s music student and faculty showcase, held every December. You’ll hear holiday tunes mixed in with other music.

Other Ways to Use CU’s Music Scene

There are so many other ways to enjoy music on campus. Here are just a few of them.

  • Faculty Tuesdays: On select Tuesdays, you can hear performances by the College of Music’s faculty.
  • Hire a student performer: You can hire CU music students to perform at your event through CU Gigs.
  • The Summer Music Academy: Teenage musicians can get top-notch instruction in this weeklong workshop.
  • The Conducting Symposia: CU holds a workshop to teach conducting techniques.
  • The Invitational Orchestra Festival: High school chamber and symphony orchestras perform in this event
  • Rocky Mountain Bass Festival: This one-day workshop is for bassists (jazz and classical).
  • CU Band Day: High school marching bands compete annually at Folsom Field.
  • CU Honor Band Festival: High school wind musicians can participate in this annual band.
  • Other special events: You can find other performances on campus, like an African drum ensemble and Japanese ensemble. Also find upcoming band events, world music events, jazz events and more.
  • The Program Council: CU’s Program Council puts on concerts at Folsom Field. Over the years, this has included the likes of the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthew’s Band and R.E.M. The council also has its own smaller venue, Club 156, located in the University Memorial Center, where you can hear new, up and coming bands.
Dead & Company at Folsom Field
Dead & Company at Folsom Field. Photo by Randy Goldner

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