Monthly Archives: February 2012

“You’re trying to catch a moment of someone’s life, and in my case, make the best kind of country music you can, because country music – to me – is real life.” –Lee Ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack

Best known for her single “I Hope You Dance,” which hit #1 six weeks in a row in 2000, Lee Ann Womack grew up in Texas at the heart of the country music scene. She has released six studio albums and is currently working on her seventh. “I don’t put albums out as fast as some people, but being in the studio is probably the favorite thing about my job,” she said last year.

After her pop crossover hit, Womack returned to her country roots. Her masterpiece album There’s More Where That Came From grounds her as a traditional country artist and pays tribute to childhood inspiration Dolly Parton. The success of this album lies not in any one song, but in how they fit together. Each song is part of a story about drinking, cheating, loneliness, and finding hope through it all.

A Local Connection
Womack also has personal ties to Steamboat Springs. Mark Sanders, who wrote “I Hope You Dance” along with Tia Sillers, is a Steamboat Springs part-time resident. The songwriter has performed an acoustic version of the hit single for the local community and said in an interview with the Steamboat Today, “It’s like an education, hearing the song from the songwriter. You understand so much more about where it came from.”

Grammy Awards
Best Country Song – “I Hope You Dance”
Best Country Collaboration with Vocals – “Mendocino County Line”

Country Music Association Awards
Single and Song of the Year – “I Hope You Dance”
Female Vocalist of the Year
Vocal Event of the Year – “Mendocino County Line”
Album of the Year – There’s More Where That Came From
Best Musical Event – “Good News, Bad News”

Live Music in Steamboat – Lee Ann Womack
As part of her 2012 summer tour, Lee Ann Womack will perform at the Strings Music Pavilion on Friday, July 20 at 8:00pm. Tickets on sale now! Order tickets online or by calling the Box Office (970) 879-5056 x 105.

Posted on February 29, 2012
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Chamber Music at Strings Music Festival

Along with classical pieces, favorite memories of Strings Music Festival include classical musicians. Here’s who you remember most: 

Eroica Trio playing at Storm Meadows
Marie Rossano
Adela Pena practicing violin just outside my office at Storm Meadows.
Adela looking for her shoes.
Benny Kim and his fun socks.
Lambert Orkis – his music making with Russian artists during and after the Soviet era.
The Carnegie Mellon Trio
The Meridian Quartet

What classical musicians would you like to see return to Strings?

Posted on February 24, 2012
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(c) SSRC / Larry Pierce

With the record breaking 27 inches of Champagne Powder that fell at Steamboat Ski Area Sunday night and the additional 21+ inches of snow that have fallen since then, all anyone can talk about around here is snow. 

But when eight people are crammed into every gondola cabin and the lift lines are the biggest I’ve ever seen, it might be necessary to tune out the crowds. The best way to do that? Music. 

Whether it’s Pandora, Spotify, or your favorite iTunes playlist, more and more people have started skiing with music. In fact, the whole industry has incorporated music technology into their ski gear. You can now buy helmets with speakers in the ear pads, gloves that are touch screen friendly, and jackets with special pockets and features to store and use your electronics on the slope. 

For years, many have expressed safety concerns regarding music on the mountain. Listening to music reduces your ability to hear, which can put you at a greater risk for an accident. Not to mention being rude to your friends on the chairlift. But earHero claims to have the safest solution for listening to music while skiing.  

The earHerosport earpiece is small enough that it doesn’t block the entire ear canal. This way you can still hear the powder whooshing under your skis or your buddy calling, “yo bro, that was sick!” Of course it’s still possible that you may injure your ear canal in a fall, so perhaps a music compatible helmet is still the best bet. 

Despite safety concerns, more than 50% of people waiting for the gondola were tuned into their music, according to my quick pole over the past few mornings. As I’ve mentioned before, music may actually enhance your athletic ability. Some people said listening to music while riding helps them “find the spaces between the trees,” while others say, “I think about the song instead of how bad my legs hurt.”  

So what are all these powder hounds listening to? Here are some tunes that were part of playlists this morning.

Leave a comment below to tell us what music gets you amped up for a powder day.

Posted on February 22, 2012
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Cellist Gary Hoffman

As an internationally acclaimed cellist, Hoffman has performed with orchestras in America and abroad, esteemed music festivals including the Bath International Music Festival, and the Tokyo String Quartet, among others. 

This summer at Strings Music Festival, Gary Hoffman will perform the Dvořák Cello Concerto, arguably one of the most famous cello concertos of all time. In fact, Brahms is said to have commended Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor: “Why on earth didn’t I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? Had I known, I would have written one long ago.” In an interview with Tim Janof of cello.org, Hoffman shares some secrets.

Tim Janoff: On a related note, you also said, “Don’t be afraid to do things that may surprise you.” Do you use this approach in pieces that you are very familiar with?

Gary Hoffman: Absolutely. Some people may become bored with a piece after they’ve played it a hundred times, like the Dvořák Concerto, feeling that they have nothing new to say with it. I avoid this by trying to remain open and free, not just to things that I see and hear around me, but also to the changes that are happening within me as I go through life. There are many things that simply can’t be discovered in a practice room, and it is these things that can greatly affect your playing, if you are open to them. If it’s important to you that your playing reflect who you are, then I think it’s important that you allow yourself to be surprised. In metaphysical terms, you should nurture the desire to venture into the infinite and the indefinable.

About Gary Hoffman
Youngest faculty appointee at the Indiana University School of Music at age 22.
First North American to win the Rostropovich International Competition in Paris.
Made his London recital debut at Wigmore hall at age 15.
Performs on a 1662 Nicolo Amati, the “ex-Leonard Rose.”
Born in Vancouver, Canada.
Currently resides in Paris, France.

Live Music in Steamboat – Gary Hoffman
Gary Hoffman will perform as soloist with the Strings Festival Orchestra on Opening Night at the Strings Music Pavilion. The performance is Saturday June 23rd and tickets are on sale now! Order tickets online or by calling the Box Office (970) 879-5056 x 105.

Posted on February 21, 2012
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Strings Music Pavilion

Strings Music Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has a long history of successful fundraising. Our 2012 Annual Fund Campaign is underway and we invite you to look at the levels of support and donate today! Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach 25 years.

Here’s how we made it happen:

         A $250 donation got you an invite to the “Prelude” buffet dinner for two on the deck of the club prior to the concert. 
         The “musical chair” program fixed the problem of people sitting two to a chair at concerts.

        Strings was the recipient of the Snow Ball, presented by the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation, and received over $16,000.
        Individuals were asked to sponsor one week of Strings for the first time.

        The Guild’s first fundraising event was a “Prelude to Summer,” a dinner/dance held at the Steamboat Yacht Club.
        The Guild began “Sponsor a Musician” and each musician attending Strings was financially sponsored by individuals and businesses.

         The Guild started “Noteworthy Affairs” which marked certain events as fundraisers.

         A party that benefited the endowment was held at the Harrington Ranch in the Elk River and featured the Gypsy Boys in a high energy performance in the corral.
        “Some Enchanted Evening” was the first dance and dinner at the Strings’ tent.

        The Guild hosted the first “Second Fiddle” sale at Sharon and Ben Jones’ barn. People donated used furnishings, paintings, sculptures, and other household items in excellent condition, which were then auctioned off.

        Participants visited beautiful backyards of the Yampa Valley on the brand new Garden Tour, hosted by the Guild.  

        Garrison Keillor presented two benefit performances for Strings, a sing-along at the top of the Steamboat ski area and a special dinner concert at Harwigs/L’Apogee.    

         The Valentine’s Day Dinner transformed into a progressive dinner at Emerald Meadows.
        The first philanthropy program for youth was begun entitled “Kids Supporting Kids” – kids donated $1 so that a less fortunate kids could attend.

        The first “Encore Concert,” an intimate chamber music performance in private homes, was held. 

        Musicians, celebrated chefs, and residents compiled their favorite recipes for the Guild’s Steamboat Seasons cookbook, published in 2005. You can still buy a cookbook today!

        The Garden Tour expanded to include Kitchens, becoming the now well-known Kitchen and Garden Tour, hosted by the Guild.  

        Nationally recognized, award-winning violinist Joshua Bell performed a benefit concert at Strings.  

        “Strings and Stetsons” was the 20th Anniversary celebratory fundraiser, a lively evening of dinner, dance, auction, and a concert by Riders in the Sky. 

        A 4 million dollar capital campaign was successfully completed to build the Strings Music Pavilion, now the leading concert experience in Steamboat Springs. 

         For the first time, music students played at the “Donor’s Prelude” with Strings School Days featured musician Alpin Hong. 

        A biking component was added to the Kitchen and Garden Tour to appeal to Steamboat’s new Bike Town USA initiative.  

        To celebrate the 25th Anniversary, the Guild decided to “light up” the Strings Park to support youth programs and Strings School Days. Donate to Light Up the Night today!  

        25 years later, we still host the “Donor’s Prelude” and Reception. Donate $100 or more today to receive your invite.

Posted on February 17, 2012
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People can’t stop talking about Adele’s sweep of six Grammy Awards and her come-back performance after undergoing vocal surgery. Now everyone wants to know, how does she do it? 

The Wall Street Journal thought they found her secret recipe for success in a musical term called an appoggiatura 

Without starting a debate about the real definition, an appoggiatura is really just a composer’s abbreviation. If you’re reading an article on NASA you know that NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. If you had to read National Aeronautics and Space Administration every time instead of NASA it would take you longer to read the article. Just like an abbreviation, the appoggiatura makes certain musical phrases easier to read. Even if you can’t read music, which example below looks like it would be easier to play?

It seems unlikely that this musical shortcut is the trick to producing a #1 selling record.

A writing professor once told me, if there’s no conflict, there’s no story. In a creative fiction class, we were challenged to think about our characters’ lives before the story begins. A catalyst, an incident, an accident, an experience, must spark the beginning of the story, otherwise there’s no reason to write. Similarly, there must be an element of tension and release in music.

Basic music composition typically involves a chord (two or more notes played simultaneously) sustained underneath a melody. At times the melody will include notes that are not part of the chord. This is called dissonance. When the melody returns to a note that is part of the chord, the dissonance is resolved. One study has found that the resolution of the dissonance frequently coincides with an emotional climax.

Here enters the appoggiatura. This musical ornament creates an opportunity for dissonance to occur, which is how the Wall Street Journal and NPR came to their conclusions that the appoggiatura creates the emotion, ultimately leading to a hit song.

But Dan Wilson, co-writer of “Someone Like You,” thinks that the appoggiatura is not solely responsible for an emotional song. “With Adele, we wrote this song that was about a desperately heartbreaking end of a relationship, and she was really, really feeling it at the time, and we were imaginatively creating. That walked her back through that experience. And when you and I listen to that song, we walk through her shoes through that heartbreaking experience.”
Music is a story. Like a novel without conflict, music without dissonance is flat and boring. Dissonance can happen with an appoggiatura, but it can also happen at other points in the melody. And even conflict alone cannot speak to our emotions. It is the characters, the situation, the words that evoke feelings and make connections. So sorry future songwriters, it looks like you’ll have to keep using a variety of techniques to make a #1 hit.

Posted on February 15, 2012
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Tibetan Monks – Strings Music Pavilion – 2010
With so many artists performing at Strings, it’s not surprising that some of our patron’s favorite memories are of Different Tempo artists. Here are some of the names that keep popping up: 

Neville Brothers
Ruthie Foster and Keb Mo
Front row at Paula Cole.
The Buddhist Monks were the best. We loved the caterpillar and mock turtle.
Natalie MacMaster’s 1st concert.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo. We bought a recording and relive that concert often.

If Ruthie Foster was your favorite memory of Strings MusicFestival, you can see her in Steamboat Springs again Tuesday February 14th for a special Valentine’s Day Concert with Paul Thorn. Order tickets online or by calling the Box Office (970) 879-5056 x 105. Tickets are $39 in advance and $44 the day of the show, so buy your tickets now!
Posted on February 10, 2012
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Joshua Bell Incognito

A while back, professional violinist Joshua Bell conducted a social experiment with The Washington Post. He played some of Bach’s greatest works, on the violin, in street clothes, at DC’s L’Enfant Plaza metro station, during rush hour. The concept behind the experiment was, would people recognize great music and beauty in a mundane setting at an unexpected hour? If they recognized the beauty would they stop and listen? Out of thousands of people, only a few stopped to listen, and only one recognized Joshua Bell.

Joshua Bell certainly has a significant presence in the subway. The Washington Post article notes, “You don’t need to know music at all to appreciate the simple fact that there’s a guy there, playing a violin that’s throwing out a whole bucket of sound; at times, Bell’s bowing is so intricate that you seem to be hearing two instruments playing in harmony. So those head-forward, quick-stepping passersby are a remarkable phenomenon.”

It does seem to be a remarkable phenomenon that such an anomaly could be so blatantly ignored, so why didn’t people stop to listen to one of the best violinists of our time, playing one of the most intricate pieces of famous classical music, on a $3.5 million violin?

Plugged in. You listen to music during your commute. To make the journey faster, because you can’t get that new hit single out of your head, because you don’t want to listen to the obnoxious conversation going on next to you. The volume is turned up loud to block everything else out, so of course you didn’t hear a violin this morning. 

Perception. People who play music in public places in hopes of tips are sketchy. If you can’t make money any other way, you’re dangerous or violent, maybe even homeless or a drug addict. Don’t get close, don’t make eye contact, and you’ll live to see another day. 

Classical music sucks. You don’t care one cent for classical music, so why would you stop, even if it’s the best violinist in the world playing a one-of-a-kind instrument. And don’t expect even a penny for a tip. 

No recognition. Out of context, you don’t recognize a master. Joshua Bell looks different in a t-shirt and a baseball cap. Or you don’t know who he is in the first place.  

Preoccupied. You’re not anticipating enjoying a beautiful concert. Instead you’re thinking about that presentation you have to give, your proposal review, your two kids who are fighting. There’s not enough room in your brain at the moment to register that something is different this morning. 

Too busy. Your alarm didn’t go off, you missed the bus, you had to go back for your lunch, in short you’re running late. No time to stop and appreciate the beauty, there’s an upcoming deadline you can’t miss.

I’m sure you can add a few more, but the real question is would you have stopped that day? Do you stop on a daily basis for something out of the ordinary? Do you even notice something out of the ordinary?

Most of the articles written after the study marveled at how strange it was that no one stopped to listen to Joshua Bell. After all, people spent $100 the night before to see him in concert, and here he was playing for free. The takeaway message was that no one slows down to appreciate or observe things around them and because of that we miss out on great things. It’s bad that so many people don’t stop and pay attention to the world around them. But is this the right assumption to make?
All of the reasons above seem like perfectly legitimate excuses to not pause for a moment. It’s unclear whether someone who did stop had a better day than someone who didn’t. Maybe we find beauty in our lives in other ways. So would you change any of your habits to stop and recognize a special moment?

Posted on February 9, 2012
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My favorite memory of Strings is “the excitement of the first show of the season!”

“Strings gets better every year! Horray for Strings!!”

Storm Meadows – 1989
Mark your calendars: Tickets for Strings Music Festival’s 25th Anniversary Season go on sale Wednesday, April 4 at 9:00am Mountain Daylight Time.

Keep checking our website to see who’s coming this summer!

Posted on February 3, 2012
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In 2005 a new term was developed: social commerce. According to Wikipedia, social commerce uses social media to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services. And with more than 800 million active users, it’s not surprising that a subset of social commerce is Facebook Commerce.

Ticketmaster recently released an application taking advantage of Facebook Commerce. The interface lets you to buy tickets through Ticketmaster without leaving Facebook. In addition, the app makes suggestions as to what concerts you may like, based on your Spotify listening history. You can also tell your friends which events you want to go to, when you’ve bought tickets, and where you’re sitting.

While it seems like more than ever big brother is watching every key stroke we make, the real goal of the program is to promote concerts. Officials say that 40 to 50 percent of tickets at shows go unsold because people didn’t know about them. By plugging into our Facebook and Spotify habits, Ticketmaster hopes to fill and sell-out more shows. But if the goal is to promote bands, then Spotify, and other groups, should take it one step further.

Ticketmaster sells tickets to the large concert halls and venues. Typically these venues see artists that already have a large following. Often people travel for a concert, which means they also have to book a hotel room and maybe even a flight. If people go to that extent to see a favorite band, then they probably already follow the tour schedule.

But what about bands that play at music festivals, bars, schools, or even for free in public parks and restaurants? Ticketmaster doesn’t sell tickets to these events, so Spotify users still might not know that their favorite artist is performing nearby. If 40 to 50 percent of seats for well-publicized, large-scale events are empty, imagine how many are empty in smaller venues. 

We need to step away from social commerce, and return to where the business came from: social media. Social media has always been about sharing – whether it’s a funny cartoon we come across, inviting friends to a birthday bash, or browsing things to do this Friday night. Instead of trying to sell us a ticket, use all that data to appeal to our musical tastes. If we know the app will tell us about everything, not just Ticketmaster tickets, we’ll be more inclined to use it. And who knows, maybe we’ll even buy a ticket.

Posted on February 2, 2012
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