Aspen Celebrates Africa with Five Cultural Organizations Collaborating to Launch Summer Festival Season

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Every summer, Aspen's cultural organizations present spectacular events and festivals showcasing internationally renowned musicians, artists, writers, chefs, politicians and thought leaders. From the Aspen Writers' Foundation's international literary festival in June to Jazz Aspen Snowmass' rocking Labor Day festival, Aspen's summer calendar rivals that of a big city in both scale and scope. For the first time, five of Aspen's most renowned cultural organizations are collaborating to celebrate African culture.

Every summer, Aspen's cultural organizations present spectacular events and festivals showcasing internationally renowned musicians, artists, writers, chefs, politicians and thought leaders. From the Aspen Writers' Foundation's international literary festival in June to Jazz Aspen Snowmass' rocking Labor Day festival, Aspen's summer calendar rivals that of a big city in both scale and scope. The Aspen festival-goers' experience is enhanced by Aspen's breathtaking mountain setting and access to intimate performances, lectures or screenings during any of the summer festivals.

For the first time, five of Aspen's most renowned cultural organizations are collaborating to celebrate African stories, music, ideas and film during a series of events to kick off the summer season. The Aspen Writers' Foundation, the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Aspen Institute, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, and Aspen Film will have African programs, each individually strong and together creating a compelling force of cultural adventures.

Bringing together some of the greatest living African artists and storytellers, the series of events offers a rare exploration of the many sides of the continent and seeks to showcase how its ancient cultures have shaped the African-American experience. In just one week, attendees can listen to a Nobel Prize-winning author talk about the oral tradition; attend a concert with a premier American jazz musician and Ghanaian drum masters; sit in on a panel discussion with six writers who are shaping today's African literary culture; see a film that gives new perspective on the African experience; and hear presentations and events with the continent's leaders.

"Africa is often referred to as the cradle of civilization and has given birth to some of the richest and most diverse culture in history, including music, mythology, song, writing and, more recently, film," said Lisa Consiglio, executive director of the Aspen Writers' Foundation. "This year, the Aspen Writers' Foundation is proud to join hands with several of Aspen's finest arts organizations to bring the stories and sounds of Africa to our local stages."

Schedule of Events
"Africa: The Origin of Stories" - June 24 to 28, plus film schedule to be announced.
The Aspen Writers' Foundation will immerse participants in the literary culture of Africa during its 31st annual Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival. Flying under the banner, "Africa: The Origin of Stories," the 2007 festival brings together a historic gathering of renowned writers with ties to the continent including Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Leila Aboulela, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Binyavanga Wainaina, Alexandra Fuller, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (moderator) and more. These and other literary lights will be featured in five days of author readings, craft talks, panel discussions, workshops, live music and receptions. In addition, the AWF is collaborating with Aspen Film, to curate a selection of acclaimed contemporary short and feature films complementing the month's events. Aspen Summer Words Festival passes are $200; single tickets will go on sale in June. For tickets, visit Aspen Writers' Foundation or call the Wheeler Opera House at 970.920.5770.

Wynton Marsalis' Congo Square with Yacub Addy and Odadaa! - June 26
The Aspen Music Festival and School, in collaboration with Jazz Aspen Snowmass, presents jazz icon and Pulitzer Prize-winner Wynton Marsalis, conducting the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) in "Congo Square," June 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Benedict Music Tent. Marsalis' work was inspired by the public square in New Orleans which was, from the mid-1700s to the late-1800s, the only public space in America where African Americans could gather and share their unique rhythms, songs and dances. For this work that blends musical styles and traditions, JLCO will be joined by Congo Square co-writer and Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addy and Addy's nine-piece ensemble of Ghanaian drummers/vocalists Odadaa!

Africa Leadership Initiative at ACT II - June 28 to 30
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program and the first convening of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, which is comprised of nearly 600 Fellows from 26 different countries. About 20 Fellows from the Africa Leadership Initiative in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa will participate in the dialogue, enriching the discussion with their continent's perspective on leadership. This celebration, dubbed ACT II, provides the first opportunity for Fellows from all different classes and leadership initiatives to come together, share ideas, and collaborate on finding solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time. Inspirational leaders, including writer/scholars Anthony Appiah, Wole Soyinka and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as well as IDEO founder David Kelley will be featured at the plenary sessions to present and dialogue with the Fellows and to further inspire greater collective action on the leadership challenges they face today. ACT II runs from June 28 to 30 at the Aspen Meadows Resort.

Aspen Accommodations
Discount accommodations are available to participants in the Africa events. The Gant, a luxury condominium resort at the base of Aspen Mountain, offers reduced rates starting at $170 per night for a one-bedroom condo (regularly $295) during the last week of June. Amenities include heated outdoor pools, fitness center and tennis courts, full hotel services and complimentary in-town shuttle. Offer good for bookings by May 10. For reservations, call 800-549-0530 or visit The Gant Aspen. Mention "Aspen Summer Words ."

Or visit the Aspen Chamber Resort Association or call 1.888.290.1324 or 970.925.1940 for information or reservations.

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ERIN LENTZ

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