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June 20, 2019

Colorado Symphony Announces Details For Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary Celebration Presented By The University Of Colorado


Media Contact:
Nick Dobreff, Manager of Publicity and Community Relations
616.485.3913 (m) – 303.308.2477 (o)


July 20 performance will feature former NASA astronaut and CU alum Richard Hieb as narrator

June 20, 2019 – Denver, CO – The Colorado Symphony has announced repertoire and guests for the Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary Celebration presented by the University of Colorado, taking place July 20, 2019 at Boettcher Concert Hall.

Music Director Brett Mitchell will conduct the Colorado Symphony in this cosmic performance celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing with music from the legendary John Williams — including selections from his unforgettable scores for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Star Wars — as well as contemporary American composers Mason Bates and James Beckel.

Former NASA astronaut Richard Hieb — a veteran of three space shuttle missions and a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder — will narrate the performance which also features mezzo-soprano soloist Sasha Cooke, stunning visuals, and archival footage from the moon landing.

“On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the moon and inspired a generation,” said Music Director Brett Mitchell. “On the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step,’ the Colorado Symphony and I are thrilled to present a special concert commemorating this uniquely American achievement. Join us for music of John Williams, Mason Bates, and James Beckel as we celebrate ‘one giant leap for mankind.’”

The repertoire for the performance is as follows:

JOHN WILLIAMS: Main Title from Star Wars
JOHN WILLIAMS: Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
JOHN WILLIAMS: Celebrate Discovery
JOHN WILLIAMS: “Adventures on Earth” from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
JAMES BECKEL: From the Earth to the Moon and Beyond

Tickets are available online at, by phone at 303.623.7876, and in person at the Boettcher Concert Hall Box Office, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1000 14th Street. The Box Office is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.; and two hours prior to each performance.

What: Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary Celebration presented by the University of Colorado
Where: Boettcher Concert Hall
When: SAT July 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Available at


For more information or to request interviews, please contact:
Nick Dobreff, Manager of Publicity and Community Relations – 303.308.2477 (o)

For high-resolution, downloadable images of the Colorado Symphony, contact:

The 2019/20 Colorado Symphony Season is presented by Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Support also provided by: The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), 9News, United Airlines, the Colorado Symphony Guild, Arrow, Bank of America, and Macy’s, Inc.

Tickets to Colorado Symphony events are available online at, by phone at 303.623.7876, and in person at the Boettcher Concert Hall Box Office, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1000 14th Street. The Box Office is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.; and two hours prior to each performance.

Richard (Rick) Hieb was selected as a NASA astronaut in June 1985 and flew on STS-39 in 1991, STS-49 in 1992, and STS-65 in 1994. He has logged more than 750 hours in space, including more than 17 hours of extra-vehicular activity (spacewalk). Hieb began his career as an aerospace engineer with NASA, working in Mission Operations. He was in Mission Control for the first Space Shuttle launch in 1981, and was involved in many shuttle missions in various roles, becoming an expert in rendezvous and satellite deploy and retrieve missions. Selected as an astronaut in 1985, For most people, his most well-known flight was the maiden voyage of Endeavour, which was built to replace the lost Challenger Space Shuttle. The 1992 Endeavour flight was a satellite rescue mission that involved a number of high profile spacewalks, culminating in the first and only three person spacewalk where Rick and his colleagues captured a 9000 pound satellite in their spacesuit gloved hands. They then attached the satellite to a booster rocket, and released it, sending it safely on its way to the originally intended orbit. In addition to being the only three person spacewalk in history, this held the record for more than ten years as the longest ever spacewalk, at just under eight and a half hours. In 1995 Rick left NASA to enter private industry, where he spent 20 years as an aerospace executive, managing a wide array of activities, involved in nearly every aspect of space flight and a number of other highly technical endeavors, with a workforce distributed from Alaska to Antarctica. He is currently a Scholar in Residence instructor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, recognizing the importance of this opportunity to help develop the next generation of engineering talent. Hieb received a Bachelor of Arts degree in math and physics from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, in 1977, graduating with highest honors, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1979.

Two-time GRAMMY Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke has been called a “luminous standout” (New York Times) and “equal parts poise, radiance and elegant directness” (Opera News). Ms. Cooke is sought after by the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies, and chamber music ensembles for her versatile repertoire and commitment to new music. The 2019/20 season brings many returns including appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic for a tour of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. On the operatic stage, she appears twice with the San Francisco Opera returning to the title role in Hansel and Gretel and Laurene Jobs in Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, a role she created in 2017 at Santa Fe Opera. As artist in residence with the San Francisco Symphony her work will encompass concerts with the orchestra, educational events, chamber music performances, as well as a recital in Davies Hall. A dedicated recitalist, Ms. Cooke was presented by Young Concert Artists in her widely acclaimed New York and Washington debuts at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and the Kennedy Center. A graduate of Rice University and The Juilliard School, Sasha Cooke also attended the Music Academy of the West, the Aspen Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute, the Wolf Trap Foundation, the Marlboro Music Festival, the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and Seattle Opera and Central City Opera’s Young Artist Training Programs. She lives near Houston, TX with daughters Evelyn and Julia and husband baritone Kelly Markgraf.

The University of Colorado is a premier public research university with four campuses: the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. With more than 67,000 students (and another 7,000 taking courses for credit) and over 7,200 full-time instructional faculty members, CU is the largest institution of higher education in the state of Colorado. With an annual budget of $4.5 billion, CU generates a remarkable economic impact of $12.35 billion annually for the state. CU researchers attracted more than $1.05 billion in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2017-18. The university’s Technology Transfer Offices have helped launch 190 startups since 1994. Academic prestige is marked by CU’s five Nobel laureates, 10 MacArthur “genius” Fellows, 20 astronauts and 20 Rhodes Scholars. For more information about the CU system, and to access campus resources, go

One of the leading orchestras in the United States, the Colorado Symphony Association is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization performing more than 150 concerts annually at Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver and across Colorado. Led by Music Director Brett Mitchell, the Colorado Symphony is home to eighty full-time musicians, representing more than a dozen nations, and regularly welcomes the most celebrated artists from the world of symphonic music and beyond. In the last year, the Colorado Symphony served nearly 233,000 people attending live performances at concert and non-traditional venues throughout Colorado’s Front Range. In addition, over 265,000 people listen to the Colorado Symphony through Colorado Public Radio’s live broadcasts of classical content featuring concert recordings, in-studio performances of individual musicians and small ensembles, and live streaming of interviews and performances with artists. Recognized as an incubator of innovation, creativity, and excellence, the Colorado Symphony continually expands its reach through education, outreach, and programming. The Colorado Symphony partners with the state’s leading musical artists, cultural organizations, corporations, foundations, sports teams, and individuals to expose diverse audiences to the transformative power of music. To learn more, visit