Strings co-music directors Cárdenes and Mead to lead final concert Saturday |

Strings co-music directors Cárdenes and Mead to lead final concert Saturday

Andrés Cárdenes, Kay Clagett and Monique Mead.
Courtesy Photo

Andrés Cárdenes, Kay Clagett and Monique Mead.

Andrés Cárdenes and his wife, Monique Mead, at the Strings Music Festival.

— For the past five years, Andrés Cárdenes and his wife, Monique Mead, have brought a new vision to Strings Music Festival.

“I think the goals coming in were to raise the artistic level of the music to a world-class level and to create an atmosphere that was welcoming for our audiences,” Mead said. “I think we both feel good about having met those goals.”

Andrés Cárdenes, Kay Clagett and Betse Grassby in 1993.

Ushering in an orchestral influence, Cárdenes has been playing at the Strings Music Festival as a musician since 1992. In 2009, he and Mead were appointed as the new co-music directors for the organization to devote their performing careers to nurturing new audiences and enhancing the musical experience for Strings concertgoers.

“They have helped build Strings into what it is today,” said Kay Clagett, executive director and CEO at Strings.

On Saturday, it will be Cárdenes and Mead’s final concert serving as co-music directors as the two plan to retire their title at Strings.

Rather than dwell on the changes at hand, Cárdenes remains focused on creating a memorable concert for musicians and the audience.

Andrés Cárdenes, Kay Clagett and Monique Mead.

We really want to just make this the best one we’ve ever done,” he said while taking a break from a five-hour rehearsal session Friday afternoon. “That’s my mission. I’ll worry about everything else when the last note is over. For right now, I’ve got a job to do.”

With focus and dedication, Cárdenes’ teaching style resonates with pupils and visiting musicians to allow for his artistic vision to come alive.

“I’ve loved listening to him work with the various musicians he has brought in and how he asks them to play together and get what his vision is and what he is hearing in his head,” Clagett said. “I’ve learned how he leads, and it’s been a very fascinating process.”

Choosing a repertoire that had high acclaim by the Strings staff, his final concert as musical director will surely end on a strong note. But that’s not all the night will bring.

“It’s not just about what we bring to the table as musicians,” Mead said. “It’s what the audience brings that takes it to something magical. We all go to concerts for that one moment in a piece where the magic happens. It doesn’t happen in the practice room or rehearsals. It only happens when the audience is there.”

Following today’s performance, the audience as well as the community is welcome to attend a farewell party that will celebrate a night of beauty, friendship and fun in honor of Cárdenes and Mead at the Strings Café.

“For me, it’s always been about the friendships, the music making, the camaraderie, the surroundings and even the altitude,” Cárdenes said with a grin as he reminisced about his rein as co-music director for Strings.

For him and his wife, Strings has been a place of escape from the occasional drudgery of daily life to reconnect with friends, colleagues and the music.

“It’s a very different atmosphere here,” he said. “No one has an ego or is trying to make money. People come here to be here and make music with their colleagues and friends. That makes it very special.”

The talented duo recognizes the memories made and the legacy that will last a lifetime.

“You know, no matter where we go, all of these years of experience we’ve had here we will take that with us,” Mead said. “Strings is a part of us.”

As one door closes, another opens with the presentation of new opportunities. For Mead and Cárdenes, change is inevitable, but their friendships and legacy will remain forever part of the Strings Music Festival’s history.

“Everything in life changes, and we’ve had a fabulous time together,” Clagett said. “We’ve accomplished a lot, and we are very proud.”

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

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