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Steamboat Symphony Orchestra celebrates 30 years with themes of hope, healing

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra will kick off its 30th season with two concerts this weekend.
Courtesy photo

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra will kick off its 30th season with two concerts this weekend.

Conductor Ernest Richardson said to acknowledge 30 years of the orchestra, he and Executive Director Jennifer Robinson wanted to give a clear message.

“We wanted to make a point to say, ‘This is where we are, and this is where we’re going,’” Richardson said. “This program really captures that. Over the course of this COVID year and what we’ve all been through, it seems like we really need to awaken what makes our culture great.”



American music will feature prominently in the concert, “Awakening the American Spirit.” Richardson chose the selections, beginning with a piece by Aaron Copland, “Fanfare for the Common Man,” which was written as part of a series of 10 fanfare and overtures created after World War II.

“The idea of the music was to bring people together again after the experience of the war,” Richardson said. “It seemed strangely appropriate for us at this time too, after being through what we’ve been through.”



If you go

What: Steamboat Symphony Orchestra 30th Anniversary Concert

Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road

When: 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Tickets: stringsmusicfestival.com

Ludwig van Beethoven’s “7th Symphony” will follow, chosen because of its joyous nature.

The second half of the program will begin with another American composer, Aaron Jay Kernis, whose piece “Muisca Celestis” represents hope and healing, an overall theme of the programming.

The program finishes with two more pieces by Copland. The first “Lincoln Portrait” features a selection of readings from Abraham Lincoln. Narrator Tony Counts will read these selections during the concerts this weekend.

“The inspirational quotes serve to help us find our own spirit and our own way,” Richardson said.

Copland, an American composer from Brooklyn, actually came to Steamboat at one point to visit Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. He attended a barn dance and subsequently wrote his ballet, “Rodeo,” based on his Steamboat experience. Selections from the ballet will finish out the program.

“The music from ‘Rodeo’ really ties back into Steamboat, especially with the story of Copland’s visit,” Richardson said. “I think this concert is really representative of what we’re trying to do in terms of integrating into the community and understanding its history. In this way, the sound of the orchestra fits into that experience.”

Apart from an outdoor concert at Perry-Mansfield last summer, this concert is the first programming from Steamboat Symphony Orchestra since before COVID.

“Last year, our goal was to survive and make sure we remained on secure financial footing,” Robinson said. “We managed to do that and to keep music at the heart of our community. We have a commitment to the community and it’s clear that the community has a commitment to us – that was demonstrated during COVID. This community is one that values live orchestral music and what arts and culture bring to Steamboat.”

Moving forward, Robinson said, the organization hopes to provide regular programming including several concerts each year, several of which are free, and educational work in the schools.

“Music is a vital, necessary part of our human experience that knits a community together,” Robinson said. “It transcends background, ideology and everything that as humans, we put up as a wall. Music can tear those walls down. Moving back into ‘normal life,’ it’s our responsibility to remind the community of that.”


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