Steamboat Springs Symphony Orchestra connects with “Finding Christmas” |

Steamboat Springs Symphony Orchestra connects with “Finding Christmas”

At the Christmas Spectacular event last week, Ernest Richardson led the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra and the youth orchestra to kick off the holiday season.
Courtesy Photo

— From an animated retelling of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” to a sing-along of timeless holiday favorites, Ernest Richardson, musical director and principle conductor of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, hopes to make Christmas connections with this year’s SSO Christmas concert, “Finding Christmas.”

A collaboration of the orchestra, the Yampa Valley Choral Society Chamber Singers and the Steamboat Springs High School Concert and Select Choirs, this year’s concert unites the musical community with an eclectic mix of holiday music and includes a return appearance by Broadway star Tiffany Haas.

The concert takes place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Strings Music Pavilion.

“Every Christmas concert is a 360-degree view of the holiday season,” said Richardson. “We are all looking for something this time of year. If I can help people find Christmas — if I can evoke that sound for them, that’s what the music is meant to do.”

Classical pieces such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Polonaise from Christmas Eve” and Bach’s Cantata No. 51 mingle with the traditional French Christmas Carol “Angels We Have Heard on High.” And no Christmas concert would be complete without Mel Torme’s strains of chestnuts roasting on an open fire from “The Christmas Song.”

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Hot Chocolate” from The Polar Express are sure to thrill the youngest in the crowd, of whom two special participants from the audience will be asked to take the stage for Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.”

“The concert is a phenomenal opportunity for kids to be on stage with professional musicians,” said Corinne Sommerfeld, Steamboat Springs High School music director and choir teacher.

Maddie Lee, a freshman, who usually plays with the student musicians, is a vocalist in the select choir, which will be performing a John Williams medley from the movie “Home Alone.”

“It’s going to be really cool to sing with the symphony,” Lee said.

The students also have the opportunity to work with Haas, who for 10 years played Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway production of the musical “Wicked.” Haas will conduct master classes for the students before the concert on Nov. 29.

The students prepare and perform a piece for a one-on-one critique with Haas.

“It’s basically a mini voice lesson with an audience,” said junior Sammie Lee, who intends on going to college to study music and theater.

She and fellow high school vocalists Elizabeth Dumke, Libby Lukens and Hailey Karschner have perfected their pieces and are looking forward to Haas’ providing critical feedback on their work. Each hopes to pursue a future in acting or music.

Rounding out the concert is Richardson’s arrangement of the Christmas Carol Sing Along. In keeping with the theme of finding one’s own Christmas, the crowd joins in on familiar Christmas favorites.

Those attending the concert are asked to bring donations for LiftUp of Routt County, according to Tara Cowherd, the orchestra’s interim assistant.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” she said.

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