Valerie Powell: This week ahead for Strings Music Festival |

Valerie Powell: This week ahead for Strings Music Festival

Chris Botti will perform Friday at Strings Music Festival.

Exactly a year ago, I wrote a column encouraging listeners at classical concerts to let their imaginations run free during the music. I challenged them to see what types of visual images the music conjured. Well, throughout this past year, a few people took that suggestion quite literally.

“Appalachian Spring” is a beloved piece by Aaron Copland that weaves a familiar Shaker melody, “Simple Gifts,” into a story about American pioneers celebrating spring. While Steamboat isn’t in the Appalachians, the mountain theme and a story about our early history as Americans certainly applies to this summer’s Heritage Concert theme, which led Strings Executive Director Kay Clagett to choose the musical work as the highlight of Saturday’s concert.

Instead of thinking up your own images, however, you will see one visual interpretation of the piece on a projector screen behind the chamber orchestra. With help from Strings Marketing Director Cristin Frey and local photographers Jim Steinberg, Rod Hanna and Judy Jones, the group compiled photographs of the Yampa Valley to tell a visual story along with Copland’s musical story. Engineered by producers Mike Burks and Mike Bye, the slideshow and the music together evoke powerful emotions as you journey through Steamboat’s shifting seasons and striking landmarks.

Since the beginning of Strings, Ken Greene has warmed up the audience’s imagination by taking listeners back in time into the minds of the composers. He has been the voice behind Strings’ Classical Series for 25 years with his concert introductions that always prove to be witty, enlightening and thought provoking. With the conclusion of this anniversary season also comes the conclusion of Greene’s commentary, as he recently has announced his retirement. To honor his service to Strings, we invite the whole community to join us for a pre-concert reception for Greene at 7 p.m. Saturday outside the Strings Music Pavilion. We can’t thank him enough for his commitment to Strings, and he will be missed by concertgoers, musicians and the staff alike.

The theme of musical moods continues with a concert by Chris Botti on Friday. Known for his smooth style, warm tone and exceptional trumpet playing, Botti has become America’s largest selling jazz instrumentalist. Although best known for jazz, Botti also has collaborated with musicians in genres across the board, including Yo-Yo Ma, Josh Groban and Steven Tyler.

Also this week, don’t miss a concert by Jon Nakamatsu, winner of the 10th International Van Cliburn Piano Competition. He will be joined on the last piece of the evening by the Tesla Quartet, which you might recognize from a Thursday Music on the Green Concert at the Yampa River Botanic Park.

And if you’ve always wanted to play an instrument but don’t have one, now is your chance. Bring the family to the Billy Jonas Band at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Jonas will show you how to make music out of objects you might find around the house, like key chains and broom handles. Don’t forget that kid’s tickets are $1 and adults are $10.

Valerie Powell is the development/administrative assistant at Strings Music Festival. She can be reached at or 970-879-5056, ext. 111.

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