Steamboat orchestra performs concert at Holy Name Catholic Church
If you go:
What: Steamboat Springs Orchestra concert
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8; doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Holy Name Catholic Church, 524 Oak St.
Steamboat Springs — In a first of its kind collaboration between the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra and the Holy Name Catholic Church, a special holiday concert will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday. It’s free and open to the public.
For the orchestra, it is an opportunity to share their “world-class music with the Steamboat community” in a unique venue that is accessible to all.
For Father Ernest Bayer, described as a “driving force” behind the collaboration, it is an opportunity to bring together the arts and the spiritual world — and welcome into his church the entire community and people of all faiths.
“We want it to be open to everyone,” Bayer said.
Sunday’s event, marking the Epiphany, will be the first in a series of about five concerts to be held at the church throughout the year. At the helm will be Ernest Richardson, music director and principal conductor of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra.
Richardson, an accomplished composer, arranger and violist, is also principal pops conductor and resident conductor of the Omaha Symphony and founding artistic director and CEO of Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory.
Richardson said he initially became acquainted with Bayer during a performance of the “Messiah” several years ago. He was impressed by Bayer, and by the space at the local Catholic church.
“The architecture, the stained glass — it makes quite a beautiful impression on you,” Richardson said.
Sunday’s concert will feature an orchestra of about 30, including soloists Teresa Steffen Greenlee on violin and Eduardo Cassapia on the oboe. Greenlee, Steamboat Symphony Orchestra concertmaster, also performs as first violinist of the Steamboat String Quartet. Richardson called Greenlee’s local following “tremendous and well deserved.”
Bayer said the Jan. 6 Epiphany celebration, when the three wise men visited the baby Jesus in the manger, was a perfect date for the first concert, keeping it within the holidays but after the frenzy of Christmas.
Music will include Arcaneglo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 8 in G minor (Christmas Concerto), Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in D minor and Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico botticelliano.
The impetus and inspiration for the concert series came out of Bayer’s desire to find a way to commemorate Holy Name Church’s recent procurement of a rare handwritten copy of a volume of the St. John’s Bible, which will spend the next year on display in the chapel.
“We want to share the Bible, because it’s not just our story — it’s everyone’s story,” Bayer said.
During the concert, some of the Bible’s illuminations will be projected onto a large screen, coordinating in particular with Respighi’s Trittico botticelliano, an evocation of three celebrated paintings by Sandro Botticelli that today hang in Florence’s Uffizzi Gallery.
Combining the orchestra with the Bible’s paintings and literature is all part of the church’s long patronage of the arts, Bayer said, and larger celebration of divinity through beauty.
“Beauty points to the divine,” he said. “That’s the thing about art — it takes the physical world and points it to the spiritual world, and in its emotion and spirit, lifts us up.”
Art evokes the spirituality of humanity, Bayer said, and the notion “we are all looking for something more.”
Richardson said when he learned about the idea to combine the music with the art in the St. John’s Bible, he thought joining the orchestra and the church “seemed like a beautiful match and symbiotic relationship.”
There’s also a “kind of organic connection between the Western music and the church,” Richardson said, with many Western composers and compositions having roots in the church. And the St. John’s Bible’s illuminations, Richardson said, provide artwork that is “remarkable, unexpected and very beautiful.”
Bayer also noted the collaboration as a reflection of the exceptionality of the Steamboat community, and one more thing that “elevates the quality of life here.”
Richardson said he also loved the idea of fostering a closer connection between the orchestra and the community. Whether “the community gathers to mourn or celebrate, we want them to want the orchestra to be present,” he said.
The free concerts, and loan of the Bible by St. John’s University in Minnesota, are made possible by the church’s generous benefactors, Bayer said.
Doors open for Sunday’s concert at 6:30 p.m.. The show begins at 7 p.m. and will last approximately an hour.
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