Steamboat well represented at CU Honor Band
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Sophie Flam, an eighth grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, will return to Boulder in February to play flute with the 2020 Colorado University Middle School Honor Band. This year, she earned the prestigious appointment of first chair.
Two of Sophie’s classmates will be joining her: Conner Frithsen, an eighth grader who plays clarinet, and Asher Komor, a seventh grader who also plays flute.
Each year, about 80 students are selected for the CU Honor Band from across the state — the vast majority from the Front Range and many from arts-focused schools.
Steamboat Springs High School student Arianna Tullis has attended CU Honor Band for 5 years, and was the only student chosen from the high school for two years.
It’s very impressive for a school of Steamboat’s size to have three middle school students in the band, noted Chloe Flam, Sophie’s mother.
Chloe Flam attributes the participation and local talent in large part to the middle school’s band director, James Knapp.
Knapp was a trombone player in the Glenn Miller Orchestra earlier in his career.
“The band advances really quickly,” Sophie said of the middle school band. “Mr. Knapp gives us harder music he knows we can do, but that is challenging.”
Sophie also said Knapp’s knowledge about all the different instruments makes him a great instructor for both the whole band and each individual member.
“He puts up with a lot,” she said.
Knapp’s daughter Katherine Knapp travelled to participate in the CU Middle School Honor Band last year with Sophie, as well as the year before. Last year, the Steamboat inductees included Katherine, Sophie and Michael Lake.
The prospect of being first chair this year is a bit nerve-wracking, Sophie said. In various regional and state competitions in the past, she’s been able to watch and learn from the flutists ahead of her, and she has appreciated the opportunity to learn from peers who are more advanced.
But in spite of the nerves, she’s also ecstatic about the honor. Last year, she was eighth chair. As she awaited to hear about whether she even made it in this year, Sophie said she was shooting for something around the fifth chair. She certainly didn’t expect first.
“You’re going to be a role model,” her mother told her.
Sophie began playing about four years ago, after asking her mother if she could try out her grandmother’s flute.
“I spent an entire day trying to get a noise out,” Sophie said.
She took some private lessons, and recalled her teacher having her spit rice during one of the first lessons.
“I don’t know how it helped, but it was fun,” she said.
Sophie said she likes the flute because the “music is more open and flowy,” and because “It doesn’t have a reed — reeds are weird.”
She’s also having fun with a newly acquired piccolo, which Sophie describes as “shrill” but also perfect for annoying her younger brother, especially when played close to his ear.
Musical talent runs in Sophie’s family — her mother plays piano, and her father plays cello in the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra.
Chloe Flam said when she and her husband were “blown away” after attending the culminating CU Honor Band performance last year.
The standards are set high for the selected students, Flam said. As part of the program, the students participate in master classes with CU faculty and rehearse for two days as an ensemble. They then present a full-length concert.
It “was an intense experience that made her grow musically and was pretty life changing,” Flam said about the band’s impact on her daughter.
The purpose of CU Honor Band, according to their website, “is to provide a premier musical experience for students throughout Colorado. Our goal is to enhance the opportunity students receive in their school band program by allowing them to meet and perform with other students.”
“It’s very fun to get to meet people,” Sophie said. “Everyone who is there wants to be there.”
For now, Sophie will wait to get the music in the mail, which should be very soon, so she can start practicing. The CU Middle School Honor Band festival is held Feb. 28 and 29. Beyond that, Sophie said she wants to be a doctor, probably a neurosurgeon, but also plans to minor in music.
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