Christmas Spectacular is back this year at Strings |

Christmas Spectacular is back this year at Strings

Ernest Richardson, music director for the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, runs through a rehearsal the last year's Christmas Spectacular at the Holy Name Catholic Church. The same group also will perform "Handel's "Messiah" in New York City at Carnegie Hall later this month.
John F. Russell

— For many years, Steamboat Symphony Orchestra Music Director Ernest Richardson has traveled to Steamboat Springs to oversee the transformation of the community orchestra.

With each visit, he began to notice how embracing and welcoming this community really is.

“Once you start hanging around a bit, then you start to feel like it’s your community,” he said. “You feel part of it. Then you take on a sense of ownership and you feel like it’s your community, too.”

These feelings are apparent with the reinstatement of the Christmas Spectacular concert this weekend. Taking place at the Strings Music Pavilion, the concert will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday with tickets starting at $20. For the holiday-themed night of music, there will be 85 Yampa Valley Choral Singers in addition to adult and youth musicians from the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra.

Last year, the event was canceled because of financial concerns, but it now is back in full force with the help of community funding.

“The community came forward and said, ‘We want the orchestra,’” said Mical Hutson, director of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra. “They just started funding it. I think they love Ernest, the orchestra and what we bring to this community.”

New to the program will be the “Messiah” portions, and along with that, the second half will consist of holiday music such as, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Let It Snow,” variations of “Deck the Halls,” and “Carol of the Bells.”

Unique to professional concerts, Richardson arranged a portion of the program to incorporate three levels. Consisting of advanced players, intermediate players and less advanced players, he said each level will have something interesting to contribute.

“If these kids can embrace the inspiration of a dream — which is to sound like this professional orchestra — then they can use that as a kind of fuel for whatever they pursue,” he said. “Right now in their world, we need to empower them to dream.”

Not only will it be an inspiration for the kids participating in the concert, but for the audience, too.

“One of the comments I love to receive after a Christmas concert is, ‘You got us in the mood, now we are ready for Christmas,” Richardson said. “I love that because it means that the orchestra has really become a part of their life.”

Hutson admits there is something about being in the small pavilion at Strings, where about 500 people will sit in close proximity to professional musicians playing.

“To see these professional musicians who people here know and to be that close to the music and feel the vibration that live music makes and with that many musicians on stage, there is nothing like it,” she said.

Tickets for the concert can be purchased at the the Strings Box Office at 900 Strings Road or online.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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