Condoleezza Rice to Speak and Perform at Aspen Festival

By Lauren Matison August 1, 2008, 3:19 PM EDT

Saturday afternoon, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to the stage at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where, as a 17-year-old student, she once had plans to become a professional pianist.

Rice's performance is part of the Words & Music program, which is produced in collaboration with the D.C.-based Aspen Institute and coincides with the school's 59th annual nine-week festival. Encompassing 300 classical-oriented events, including five operas and symphonies, the gathering brings together AMF's 750 students and visiting virtuosos. Rice, accompanied by three students, will perform the first movement of Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A major and the second movement of Brahms’ Piano Quintet in B minor. Following the concert, there will be a reception at the Aspen Institute to present the secretary of state with the Henry Crown Leadership Award. 

The Aspen Institute, which recently hosted Madeleine Albright, anticipates Rice will deliver a decidedly political speech on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. Jim Speigelman, the institute's director of communications and public affairs, told us today that he worked with government representatives and the school to wrangle the secretary of state, who was very willing to make an appearance. “Rice has been involved in institute programming in the past and holds the Aspen Music School close to her heart.”

Although Rice is the first government official to perform at the Aspen Music Festival and School, she is not the first person in office to attend. Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke at the Words & Music event last year and plans to return on August 4 to give a speech.

The Today Show announced NBC will air live coverage of Rice’s performance and speech this Sunday.

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