Strings Music Festival musicians recount a classic summer in Steamboat |

Strings Music Festival musicians recount a classic summer in Steamboat

Demarre McGill
©2010 Darin Fong Photography

— Classical musicians travel from all over the globe to take part in the Strings Music Festival orchestra. Throughout the summer, they’ve rehearsed challenging work by Dvorak, Beethoven, Copland and more, performing under the Strings Music Pavilion lights for thousands of music lovers.

But somewhere among the hours of rehearsals, practice and performance, the musicians find time to enjoy all of the activities Steamboat has to offer. It’s a little like summer camp, they say.

From hiking Mount Werner to singing karaoke at a local bar, the musicians revel in the chance to interact with their colleagues, who typically are spread across the country.

The classical season will conclude Saturday with a show featuring Chopin with pianist Wendy Chen. Tickets are $50 in advance and $55 on the day of the show. Rush seats are available for $25 at the box office.

During lunch Friday, several musicians shared some reflections on the 2012 Strings Music Festival season, the event’s 25th anniversary:

Demarre McGill

Hometown: Seattle (raised in Chicago)

Instrument: Flute

Interesting fact: Practiced flute for six hours a day in his teens

How did you come to play the flute?: “I started playing flute because there was a flute in the house that my mother had given my father when they were dating.”

Favorite Strings classical performance: “I had a good time with Appalachian Spring (Aaron Copland). It was very challenging. I feel like we made serious progress.”

Favorite memory from the summer in Steamboat: “In general, I love coming here. I look forward to seeing the people, to see them with this context and environment. It’s just to come to a place like this … but still do what I love.”

Leonardo Soto

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C. (raised in Chile)

Instrument: Timpani

Interesting fact: Is quite the salsa dancer

How did you come to play the timpani?: “In Chile, my dad’s band is way famous. I broke about 12 pairs of knitting needles banging on the couch when I was a kid.”

Favorite performance of the summer: “Dvorak” (Opening Night Orchestra)

Favorite memory: Dancing at Womp Wednesday with DJ Also Starring at The Tap House Sports Grill.

Anastasia Storer

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Instrument: Violin

Interesting fact: Got into a car accident Wednesday when a drunken driver hit her on U.S. Highway 40. No one was injured.

How did you come to play the violin?: “My mom wanted to learn, but the only teacher was a Suzuki teacher. In Suzuki, the parents learn to play along with their kid. So I started when I was 2 1/2.”

Favorite performance of the summer: “Dvorak.” (Opening Night Orchestra)

Favorite memory: “Just really being here is a state of bliss. It’s like going on vacation. It’s really great people at the festival.”

Karla Donehew-Perez

Hometown: New York City (raised in Puerto Rico)

Instrument: Violin

Interesting fact: Was in the same car accident as Storer

How did you come to play the violin?: “My parents claim I chose the violin. But I was 3 years old, and I don’t remember.”

Favorite Strings classical performance: “The upcoming one.” (Classical Finale)

Favorite memory: Tubing on the river.

Monique Mead

Position: Violin player, Strings Music Festival music director

Years at Strings: 10

Interesting fact: Had a “musical argument” on stage Wednesday during “Music From the Movies,” with her husband, Andres Cárdenes, who was conducting.

Favorite memory: “I love to go ride the pontoon boat with my family on Steamboat Lake.”

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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