Strings Festival Orchestra members share music and marriage |

Strings Festival Orchestra members share music and marriage

If you go:

What: Closing Night Orchestra: Vienna in 1800

When: 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6

Where: Strings Music Pavilion


— Musicians marry musicians.

It’s such a common occurrence that Steamboat Springs’ Strings Music Festival has been integrating families of musicians into their schedule, especially since Director Michael Sachs was put in charge two years ago.

“Whenever there’s a possibility of couples, or parent-child musicians … it kills two birds with one stone,” Sachs said.

He looks at it as an opportunity for the musicians to combine their festival jobs into a vacation for their families.

Christina Smith, principal flute for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is thrilled with the idea. She and husband, Paul Murphy, associate principal viola, played for Strings in June and will finish out their summer season at the Closing Night Orchestra, Vienna in 1800, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Strings Music Pavilion.

“It allowed me to bring my children to Steamboat,” Smith said. “We enjoy riding the gondola, hiking and the hot springs. It’s like a dream mini-vacation.”

Sachs tries to schedule the visiting musicians’ practice into half-days so they can enjoy everything Steamboat has to offer.

“We love doing things like this together,” said violinist Nancy Wu, associate concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Wu and husband, Leigh Mesh, principal bass, performed together at last year’s Strings Festival. They both took advantage of Steamboat’s many bike trails.

“For us, we like to be with our family in places like Steamboat that’s so family friendly,” Wu said.

This year, her husband had a previous engagement so Wu brought her 19-year-old daughter to Steamboat before she leaves for college. It’s working out well for everyone involved, especially Wu’s musician friends.

“She is going to babysit for two of my colleagues with young children, while we’re in rehearsals and performances,” Wu said.

Don’t feel sorry for the young college student though. Wu says she and her daughter will have plenty of time to play.

“She wants to go to the hot springs with me and loves to hike and bike,” Wu said. “I’m so looking forward to spending time with her.”

And that’s music to Sachs’ ears.

“Family is a very important part of the festival,” he said.

Friends are just as important, he added.

“At a certain point these orchestra players have all crossed paths and know each other,” Sachs explained. “It’s an opportunity to perform and be with friends and colleagues with cross purposes.”

The Strings Music Festival’s final orchestra performance will likely be the season’s most fun concert as well, even for people who don’t attend classical concerts.

“As soon as you hear the first few bars, you’ll immediately recognize what it is,” Sachs said.

The colorful music reflects the early classical period with music by Mozart, Hummel and Beethoven and was inspired by Vienna, “The City of Music,” at the start of the 19th century.

“These are some of these composers’ finest work,” Sachs said. “It’s really a fun program.”

Tickets for the Closing Night Opera are available at

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