Ballet, Broadway, Beethoven: Steamboat Symphony Orchestra opens 2017 season with a few surprises

Dancers Nicole Ferreri and Jacob Machmer from the Canyon Concert Ballet will perform the roles of Romeo and Juliet at this weekends Steamboat Symphony Orchestra’s “Ballet to Broadway” performance at the Strings Music Pavilion.
Courtesy photo/Scott Laumann
If you go… What: Steamboat Symphony Orchestra Opening Concert: Ballet to Broadway When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road Expect performances by: Yampa Valley Choral Society Broadway performers Michael Deleget and Siri Howard Canyon Concert Ballet from Fort Collins Steamboat Springs Symphony Orchestra  

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Imagine an orchestral audience.

What comes to mind? Maybe an educated audience knowing the differences between a Bach concerto or Brahms rhapsody upon the first note? Or someone brand new to the experience?

The Steamboat Symphony Orchestra plans to debunk any preconceived notions of what classical music is during its 2017 season opening concert “Ballet to Broadway,” based on the theme of “rising above calamity through love,” which will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Strings Music Pavilion.

“Usually people think of a typical audience at a classical event to be just for older generations,” said Stuart Handloff, SSO executive director. “But really it’s music for everybody. Orchestral music is not just Beethoven and Bach; it’s current and applicable to performing arts at every level.”

In an effort to broaden the reach of the orchestra, this weekend’s collaborative performance will feature over 40 local and national musicians like Eduard Cassapia, who grew up playing his native South American music on a traditional flute, and violinist Désirée Suàrez Ward, originally from Venezuela who plays with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and the Colorado Bach ensemble.

“In light of all the conflict in our world, a positive, global musical message about rising above conflict is something the orchestra can contribute to the community,” said Ernest Richardson, SSO music director and conductor. “Nothing on Broadway gets this message across better than the finale to Les Miserables’ ‘Do You Hear The People Sing.’ It will be a very special part of this performance as a musician and as a concert goer.”

Another new collaboration will be debuted throughout the first half of the production with dancers from the Fort Collins Canyon Concert Ballet performing excerpts from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” ballet accompanied by the orchestra.

“We don’t have the opportunity to see dancers of this proficiency here,” said Barbara Winternitz, SSO board member who had a connection to the ballet company from dancing with them in the past.

When she found out Richardson selected music from “Romeo and Juliet,” she instantly thought to bring the dancers here to include with the performance.

The Strings Music Pavilion is even building a larger stage, just for this weekend’s performances, to accommodate the dancers.

“We couldn’t afford to bring dancers from somewhere like the Colorado Ballet because we don’t have the resources to provide a venue to do what they do,” said Winternitz. “But this allows us to offer so much more with this uplifting show that will include a variety of physical and musical elements.”

“When you see the music paired to movement and thematic elements, it just makes the whole performance come to life more distinctly,” said Alicia Laumann, artistic director for Canyon Concert Ballet, who said this will be the ballet company’s first performance in Steamboat Springs.

After the intermission, the orchestra will present Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture,” which celebrates the victory of freedom over tyranny, followed by Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” the classic story of love transcending hate.

The concert will conclude with selections from Schönberg’s “Les Misérables,” featuring acclaimed singers Siri Howard, who has appeared on Broadway in “Les Misérables” and “The Sound of Music,” and Michael Deleget, who has been featured at the Theatre at St. Clement’s in New York and in roles with Goodspeed Opera House.

“We’ve never really had a performance that includes this great mixture of all disciplines like this before,” Handloff said. “But it really shows how things are bigger, brighter and what audiences can look forward to seeing this season.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.


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