‘New but nostalgic’: Steamboat Symphony returns with ‘Finding Christmas’
Maestro Ernest Richardson knows how to bring snow to the valley.
“SSO brings the snow!” he said. “Our record is actually pretty consistent. But it only works if people come to the concert!”
The concert that he speaks of is Steamboat Symphony Orchestra’s annual Christmas show, “Finding Christmas,” which will return once again this December. And after taking last year off due to COVID-19, the entire cast of characters is thrilled to be back.
“For us, it’s really about coming back together and finding joy and celebrating the season and the music of the season with each other,” he said.
What: Steamboat Symphony Orchestra presents Finding Christmas
When: 5-7 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
This year’s two performances, held Dec. 4 and 5 at Strings Music Pavilion, will include not only the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra but also narrators, professional singers, students and, of course, Santa Claus.
The evening will kick off with the Steamboat Chamber Singers caroling outside ahead of the show, dressed in classic Dickens-era caroling outfits.
Inside, about 50 orchestra members will play seasonal favorites — everything from “Let It Snow” to “Oh Holy Night.”
Joining them for about a dozen songs will be singers Kevin Vortmann and Siri Howard. Both are professional singers — friends of Richardson’s — with Broadway credits to their name.
“Kevin and Siri know each other really well and have performed together,” Richardson said. “It’s really like coming together and celebrating with friends.”
Joining them for several songs will be Giulia Constantini, who has worked extensively in Steamboat, growing up within the symphony as a soloist and is now on track to become a professional singer.
Local favorite Tony Counts, who made his debut during Steamboat Symphony Orchestra’s performance in September, will return to narrate “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with Brian Harvey of sports radio’s Harvey’s Huddle. During the reading Santa will make an appearance, delighting young audience members.
The evening will wrap up with the beloved singalong, during which local strings students will be on stage playing with the orchestra.
“Every year, we invite local students who are studying string instruments and flute to come up and play the accompaniment for the annual singalong that closes out the concert,” explained Jennifer Robinson, who is the orchestra’s executive director. “It’s a really lovely tradition, and it’s grown so much. We have about 50 students over the course of the two nights. We had to have each student pick which night they’d like to perform because there are so many of them. It’s a wonderful thing to have happen.”
For her part, Robinson is feeling emotional about the return of the concert.
“For some performers, this is the first time they’ve made music with another human being outside of their own home since the shut down,” she said. “The feeling is one of joy and gratitude for the ability to make music together and for the audience who will attend. Honestly, there’s so much joy that it’s hard to even express it.”
Tickets for this year’s performances are available online at SteamboatSymphony.org, and with less than 100 tickets currently available for Saturday’s show, Robinson expects that both shows will reach capacity in the next few days.
“This is a great family experience, date night or a fun way to kick off the holiday season,” Richardson said. “The performance is new but also nostalgic. It’s part of what Christmas is all about.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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