Strings opens 25th season in Steamboat with Dvorak concert |

Strings opens 25th season in Steamboat with Dvorak concert

Nicole Inglis

Andres Cardenes, left, and Monique Mead, right, are the music directors of Strings Music Festival. The festival opens its 25th season Saturday with the Opening Night Orchestra.

— She was told that the time would fly by. But Kay Clagett didn't know how quickly it would.

It went so quickly, she said, that it feels like Strings Music Festival turned 25 years old in the blink of an eye.

The executive director of the quarter-century-old summer music series said it's just beginning to hit her and other longtime festival staff how far they've come — from a tent in a parking lot to a year-round, state-of-the-art performing arts series with a beautiful new venue.

"Look at where we were and where we are now," she said. "You realize how many people believe in the power of music in this community."

The special anniversary season kicks off Saturday with the Strings Opening Night Orchestra presenting an evening of celebratory music from Czech composer Antonin Dvorak.

"It's going to be a very dazzling evening," said Andres Cardenes, who is the music director of the festival along with Monique Mead. "All three pieces are dedicated to showing off our orchestra or the soloists."

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Flying from Paris specifically to play the Strings Music Pavilion is Gary Hoffman, who Cardenes said is considered one of the best cellists in the world. He'll be featured on one of the best-known cello concertos in the world, as well: Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor.

"He's a great artist," Cardenes said. "We're lucky to have him."

The Bohemian, romantic sounds of Dvorak are just the beginning of a packed classical season, which features collaborations with local organizations such as Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, "Music from the Movies," popular returning musicians and some new faces.

"After a quarter century, we're looking to turn a leaf and make it fresh, new and exciting for the next 25 years," Mead said.

Mead said Thursday that she was excited that the musicians had all arrived and the joyous energy surrounding the festival had set in.

"Steamboat just creates that environment," she said. "It's a good energy, a good vibe."

Trumpet player Brian Brown arrived in Steamboat this week, a trip he looks forward to every year. When times get tough and stressful during the winter, he thinks, "Just six more months until Steamboat."

"It's great musicians from all over the country, and we just get to make fantastic music together," he said. "It's more of a family feeling."

Mead said that even with the wealth of professional musicians in town, the series maintains a casual, inclusive nature. Even Cardenes said Strings is the only place where he can wear jeans to rehearsals.

"The way we started was the way we still are," Clagett said. "We have fun."

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

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