Case Studies

Chapter 6: Case Study

Aspen Music Festival and School

Disclaimer: This case study is formulated to be used solely for educational purposes and based on both factual and fictional information.


The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS)is an annual classical music festival held in Aspen, Colorado. The history of this world-renowned music festival goes back to its inception in 1949. The 8-week long music extravaganza highlights more than 400 musical events. The event programming is diverse in size and type, ranging from orchestral performances to solo performances. The AMFS has four featured orchestras performing each summer; two are entirely composed of Aspen Music School students. This annual festival draws more than 70,000 attendees, young and old, to Aspen for many unforgettable summer days of classical music.

The festival occurs on the pastoral 38-acre Bucksbaum Campus located just outside of Aspen. The grounds are surrounded by groves of aspen and fields bordered by a little creek. The event features family concerts and other daytime programming designed specifically for children as pre-concert activities in the Meadows hospitality tent. One of the highlights of this year is Beauty and the Beast presented by The Aspen Musical Production Group.

Aspen has a public transportation system that is free within city limits. In the summer, it operates special routes and schedules to serve concertgoers until 7 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on weekends. Each night during the festival, two or three events are performed after dusk that end almost at the same time. The festival organizers states that many festival attendees have preferred to walk along the path between the venues and the town center after the events, as the distances are short (about 20 minutes) and downhill for most visitors. The sidewalk is well lit after dark, but on one side of the two-lane road, and some sections of the sidewalk are too narrow for four people to walk comfortably abreast. There is no physical separation between the sidewalk and roadway except for the dividing lines. The speed limit in the area is 25 miles per hour; the local traffic is sparse after 6 p.m. Additional information about the festival is located in the Appendix.


The facilities available are as follows:

  • Benedict Music Tent accommodates 2,050 seats
  • David Karetsky Music Lawn, open fields outside the Music Tent
  • Harris Concert Hall holds 500 seats
  • Castle Creek Campus, a 38-acre site with teaching studios, 68 practice rooms, two rehearsal halls

Food and Drinks

Food consumption is allowed only at the designated dining facilities in the concert venues. Food concessions, giveaways, and preparations are not permitted in the event area. No drinks are permitted in the event area. Similarly, no alcohol is distributed or sold in the event area. Bottled water is allowed in the concert venues.

Town of Aspen

Aspen is located in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. As of 2015, 6,658 residents resided in Aspen. During the summer season however, the population can increase to more than 16,000. Aspen is 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level and a 3.5-hour drive from Denver, Colorado. The average daily high is usually around 76 degrees.

Geologic Hazards

In table 9-3, the 2017 risk mitigation report prepared by the country officials lists the following hazards relative to their possible occurrence and severity. For further information, please refer to tables 9-1 and 9-2 below.

Table 9-1: Categories for Estimating Probability of Future Hazard Occurrences

Probability Categories
Highly Likely Near 100% chance of occurrence next year or it happens every year.


Likely 10-100% chance of occurrence next year or it has a recurrence interval of 10 years or less.


Occasional 1-10% chance of occurrence in the next year or it has a recurrence interval of 11 to 100 years.


Unlikely Less than 1% chance of occurrence next 100 years (recurrence interval of greater than every 100 years).

Table 9-2: Categories for Estimating Magnitude of Future Hazard Occurrences

Magnitude Categories
Catastrophic Multiple deaths; property destroyed and severely damaged; and/or interruption of essential facilities and service for more than 72 hours.


Critical Isolated deaths and/or multiple injuries and illnesses; major or long-term property damage; and/or interruption of essential facilities and services for 24-72 hours.


Limited Minor injuries and illnesses; minimal property damage; and/or interruption of essential facilities and services for less than 24 hours.


Negligible No or few injuries or illnesses; minor quality of life loss; little or no property damage; and/or brief interruption of essential facilities and services.

Table 9-3: The 2017 Pitkin County’s Report of Aspen Natural Hazards – Estimated Probability and Magnitude

Hazard Probability Magnitude
Avalanche Highly Likely Critical
Wildfire Likely Critical
Flood Occasional Catastrophic
Winter Storm Highly Likely Limited
Lightning Likely Catastrophic
Dam Failure Flooding Unlikely Catastrophic
Drought Occasional Limited

Note. Probability refers to how likely the hazard is to occur in the future, accounting for historical frequencies or statistical assessment of probability. Magnitude is defined as the degree to which a hazardous event is severe in terms of its impacts on public safety, community, and personal assets and properties, key infrastructures, and natural resources.


  1. What types of risk are particularly pertinent to this event in the process of risk identification? Select all that apply
  2. Once the types of risk are determined for an event, they can be organized according to two key dimensions of risk. This method of risk organization allows the event management team to conduct an accurate assessment of the risks. Which of the following are the two key dimensions of risk considered in the risk assessment?
  3. Based on your answers to Questions 1 and 2, rate the likelihood and consequence of each risk identified in Question 1 on the scale of 1 (e.g., rare) to 5 (e.g., almost certain).
  4. In the hierarchy of risk controls, which of the following is the measure of risk control applied when power cords and electrical wires are properly covered, and uneven surface areas are visibly marked.?
  5. Which of the plans should contain the measures taken to safeguard files relevant to event management?


Risk Management: The Case of Aspen Music Festival and School” by Heelye Park and Eric Olson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International(CC BY 4.0). 


Chapter 6: Case Study Copyright © 2022 by Debra Patterson. All Rights Reserved.

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