Season 21 kicks off with 8 hands, 2 pianos |

Season 21 kicks off with 8 hands, 2 pianos

Elissa Greene

What do you get when you mix a Fulbright scholar, skateboard champion, Grammy Award nominee and beauty queen?

Answer: A night of incredible music!

For the next nine weeks, I will fill this column with all the reasons why you should not miss each and every night of incredible music at Strings Music Festival’s Season 21.

Sure, I work for Strings, so I’m a little biased. And as the IT Director, you may be asking yourself what qualifies me to talk about music? Well, I have been an audience member at Strings Music Festival since its inception in 1988. I was 5 years old. Since that time, I have studied cello for 21 years, played the piano for 16 and received a music degree from Colorado College.

In my 21 years at Strings, I have seen Strings grow from eight concerts a year to more than 75. I remember when the “Strings brats” used to sit on the roof above the deck of the Steamboat Athletic Club at Storm Meadows watching the concerts. And now, with the new Pavilion spiffed up and ready to be debuted to the community of Steamboat, my heart swells with pride.

And to showcase the capabilities of this new building, the first concert on June 28 presents four amazing pianists. Playing two pianos. At the same time. No joke.

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The four pianists all are award-winning soloists and ensemble members. Alpin Hong won the prestigious Concert Artists Guild Competition and paid his way through school by participating in skateboard competitions. Cary Lewis is a member of the highly acclaimed Lanier Trio and a Fulbright Scholar. Erika Nickrenz is a member of Eroica Trio – multiple Grammy Award nominees and winners of the Naumburg Award. Jade Simmons won the Concert Artists Guild Competition, was Miss Illinois and the first runner-up in the 2000 Miss America Pageant.

At the opening of the Pavilion, entitled “Two Pianos, Eight Hands: A Keyboard Extravaganza,” they will perform remarkable music by Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Milhaud and more. Such memorable pieces as Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” (remember “Kill the Wabbit”?) and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” will be played by eight hands on two pianos.

On June 29, Strings presents the legendary Richie Havens. Some may remember him from Woodstock in 1969, others from the Clinton Inauguration in 1996. Before the announcement that he would be attending Strings, I had not heard his music. But now I know why his voice and his words are ageless.

If you really must miss the opening performances, then please come to Strings for a walk-through of the new Music Pavilion on July 1 at the Community Open House.

You may only have noticed construction at the Strings Festival Park for the past 10 months, but it has taken 21 years to get to this remarkable opening. Our town and our festival have earned it. Don’t miss the chance to say that you were there to witness one of the first nights of outstanding music performed by extraordinary musicians in the new breathtaking Strings Music Pavilion. To have music of the highest caliber as we do in Steamboat truly is a blessing. Not many towns our size have this asset. I urge you to take advantage of it.