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Rusthoi sings way back to Steamboat

Julia Ben-Asher/For Steamboat Today
Keri Rusthoi performs during the Emerald City Opera's 10th anniversary production.
10th_Anniversary_concert-_Maria_WSS

If you go:

What: Vocal recital with Keri Rusthoi, accompanied by Andie Chung and Laurie Edwards

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19

Where: United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs, Oak and Eighth streets

Cost: $20

— Keri Rusthoi has contributed to Steamboat Springs’ vibrant arts scene in a big way.

She founded Emerald City Opera in 2002, taught at Colorado Mountain College and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Schoo and Camp and directs the Yampa Valley Youth Choir, which recently added a section for middle-schoolers. But the soprano is currently pursuing a doctorate, which, understandably, cuts down on her local availability.

“A lot of folks in town have told me they’re disappointed that they haven’t heard me sing in a while,” Rusthoi said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this concert.”

The performance, set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs, is described by Rusthoi as a “light” version of the February show she did to fulfill an academic requirement at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas.

The selections are a combination of Spanish folk music and cabaret songs in four languages — Spanish, German, Czech and French — with program notes and translations supplied.

“The Spanish songs are very fiery and flirty, and the German songs are all about intimate, romantic love,” Rusthoi said. “It’s funny that I’m performing this in a church, because some of the Cabaret songs are a little bit seedy.”

The set list includes 20th century works by Spain’s Fernando Obradors, whose inspiration goes back to the 15th century as well as Austria’s Alban Berg, who wrote nearly 80 songs before he turned 20, Germany’s Kurt Weill, who wrote Broadway music from his exile by the Nazis, the Czech Republic’s Antonin Dvorak, who once fell in love with a piano performance pupil of his, and France’s Erik Satie, who is remembered as a joker and whose piano professor once called him “the laziest student in the Conservatoire.”

Rusthoi had previously worked on a Berg opera from the expressionist period as an undergraduate at Colorado College.

“It was so awful that I got up from class and ran out and threw up in the bathroom. It was awful. It was evil,” she recalled. “It was about really awful things.”

But last spring, during a modernism course, she explored Berg’s earlier work from the late Romantic era.

“It really turned me around. I sort of fell in love with it,” she said. “My hero is David Bowie, and he said something like, ‘If you’re not pushing the limits of your comfortability, you’re not making true art.’ He’s my muse.”

Accompanying Rusthoi will be two pianists.

Rusthoi and local Laurie Edwards have worked together in the Methodist church’s chancel choir as well as in two youth choirs.

“We’ve gotten to be a great collaborative team, musically,” Rusthoi said.

For the most complicated scores, Rusthoi imported Andie Chung, a choir teacher and accompanist from Phoenix.

“We’re sort of jumping in head-first — we won’t have had a whole lot of practice together on these pieces,” Rusthoi said. “But I trust Andie implicitly as a musician. It will be an adventure for both of us.”

The performance will be followed by a dessert reception hosted by friends of Rusthoi’s. The proceeds will go toward financing Rusthoi’s doctorate.

Rusthoi also noted the support she’s gotten from P.O.E., a philanthropic group that aims to help women pursue education, as well as the Methodist church and the local community.

“I really appreciate all of these groups encouraging me in my musical journey,” Rusthoi said. “I’m excited to continue to be part of Steamboat’s artistic scene.”


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