Colorado Symphony to play cannabis-friendly, 'High Note' concert series

Here’s a newsflash for those just awakening from a cryogenic slumber: Pot is legal in Colorado and for the most part, things are chill. Retail sales have already brought in millions in tax revenue and a majority of Coloradans say legalizing marijuana has been good for the state. Looking to expand on pot’s popularity and broaden their audience, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra has announced a series of shows entitled “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series,” weed-friendly concerts that openly acknowledge the underappreciated connection between marijuana and Mozart.

A series of benefit concerts organized by upscale marijuana promoter Edible Events, the performances kick off on May 23 at the Space Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe arts district. After holding three BYOC (bring your own cannabis) shows in that space -- the first of which is subtitled “Pan American Highway” and will feature “exclusive menus from local food trucks” that cater to the theme -- the series moves to the venerable Red Rocks Amphitheater for a performance on Sept. 13.

The purpose of these shows are twofold. First, they’re a benefit to raise money for the Colorado Symphony. According to the AP, “the state's only full-time professional orchestra” has struggled with “dwindling attendance and shrinking budgets” in recent years. But with the pitch to “experience the Colorado Symphony in a brand new way,” the shows are also a gateway to a different demographic than the traditionally stuffy and older crowd seen at Boettcher Concert Hall, the Symphony’s regular home.

"The cannabis industry obviously opens the door even further to a younger, more diverse audience," Jerome Kern, Colorado Symphony CEO, told The Associated Press.

It’s a door Kern has been knocking on for quite some time. In recent years, the CSO has staged shows with respected local indie artists like DeVotchKa and Gregory Alan Isakov. This summer, they announced their most ambitious pairing yet, a two-night set at Red Rocks on Aug. 8 and 9 with the Colorado-based electronic artist Pretty Lights.

For members of the orchestra, these seemingly atypical concerts are just a reflection of Colorado’s unique culture.

"Denver is a different kind of city, and you have to program your orchestra for the community you're in," trumpet player Justin Bartels told the Denver Post.

For tickets to the first event for "Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series", click here.