Strings Music Festival to open with big names |

Strings Music Festival to open with big names

Wynton Marsalis, Brent Rowan kick off 24th Strings season in Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

— On Friday evening, the 24th season of the Strings Music Festival officially opens with what Operations Manager Betse Grassby calls the biggest name to ever grace the Strings Music Pavilion.

To open the annual summer music festival, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will play to a sold-out crowd of 550 people.

"This is the country's greatest jazz band," said Grassby, who also is the nonclassical program director. "And he as an artist is so fitting for Strings — He's won Grammys for both classical and jazz."

There will be a limited number of outdoor seating tickets released on the day of the show, weather permitting, at 9 a.m. at the Strings box office. Those 40 tickets will offer patio seating in range of the new outdoor speakers installed last month.

Grassby said anyone who attends a concert at the Strings Music Pavilion this summer would benefit from a new sound system inside the venue as well.

"It's a very high-end speaker system," she said. "It's specifically engineered for the pavilion — it was a huge step up. It creates very even coverage."

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Strings events began Tuesday with the first of the weekly Youth and Family Concert Series shows.

Today at 12:15 p.m. at the Yampa River Botanic Park, the first weekly Music on the Green free outdoor show features Common Grounds. Featuring a flute, guitar and concertina, the local musicians that make up Common Grounds add a Celtic twist to Baroque music.

Also this weekend, the Different Tempo Series kicks off Sunday with Brent Rowan & Friends.

"Brent is a Strings tradition," Grassby said. "It's a very intimate show."

Rowan, an award-winning Nashville, Tenn., studio guitarist, brings with him prolific country songwriters Deborah Allen and Jim Photoglo.

This weekend's shows offer a fitting opening to a season filled with a variety of programming, from chamber music and orchestras to a 16-year-old violin prodigy and cross-disciplinary modern storytelling.

"I think we're very ready to get the season opened up," Strings Executive Director Kay Clagett said. "After you work for over a year on preparation for each season, you get to this point, and let's just get the music started."

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

Lawn seats for Marsalis available day of show

A limited number of lawn tickets will be sold at the Strings Music Festival box office on the day of the show. The box office opens at 9 a.m., and tickets must be purchased in person. Tickets are $55, and there is a limit of two per person. Regular tickets are sold out.

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