Monthly Archives: April 2012

“My favorite memory of Strings is Joshua Bell.”

Joshua Bell at Strings Music Festival

“The Joshua Bell concert was magical.”
“Joshua Bell performing in the intimate space of the Strings tent.”
“Joshua Bell, wow!”

Famous for his Washington DC metro experiment, violinist Joshua Bell was featured at a Strings Music Festival classical concert in 2005. For a trip down memory lane, check out the Steamboat Today article from July 14, 2005.

Posted on April 27, 2012
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The Tesla Quartet

This summer Strings Music Festival welcomes the Tesla Quartet to the Young Artist-in-Residence program. The Tesla Quartet was founded in 2008 at The Julliard School and currently studies with the Takács Quartet through their Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Music festivals are familiar to the Tesla Quartet, and before coming to Strings, they spent three summers at Aspen Music Festival.

Most recently the quartet took 3rd prize in the London International String Quartet Competition. Nick Kimberly of the London Evening Standard wrote the following about the competition:

“The Tesla Quartet (US) followed with Debussy’s String Quartet, the fleeting atmospheres of which have defeated some of the world’s finest. This was a subtly coloured performance that balanced confidently between intimacy and extraversion. A real sense of four players listening to each other did not obstruct a natural rapport with the audience.

Confusingly, the judges’ decision took account of performances in earlier rounds. Based on the final alone, I would have given the prize to the Tesla, whom the jury placed third. First prize went to the Arcadia. All three quartets deserve a bright future.”

The Tesla Quartet at Wigmore Hall, London

Ross Snyder, violin: The founder of the Tesla Quartet, Ross won Second Prize in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Competition and first prize in the Dorothy J. Bales ’41 Violin Competition at the New England Conservatory.

Michelle Lie, violin: Born in Munich, Germany and raised in South Korea since the age of six, Michelle did not start playing the violin until the age of 14. Michelle was awarded first prize in the 250th anniversary of the J.S. Bach Competition and was the winner of Dankook University’s 2004 Concerto Competition.

Megan Mason, viola: Founding violist of the Tesla Quartet, Megan spends her summers as a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and has studied at Le Domaine Forget and the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Kimberly Patterson, cello: Kimberly recently gave the world premiere of Cayetano Soto’s ballet for solo cello, Uneven, with the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and subsequently toured throughout the United Sates. She has completed chamber residencies with the Aspen Music Festival and the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.

Live Music in Steamboat – The Tesla Quartet
The Tesla Quartet will perform free lunchtime concerts at the Yampa River Botanic Park Thursdays June 28 to July 19. They will also present outreach concerts for Boys and Girls Clubs and Senior Centers, as well as be featured in select evening classical concerts at the Strings Music Pavilion.

Posted on April 24, 2012
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“Kid shows, especially the one I got to be in!” -Margaux, 6

“I love to watch the children at the children’s concerts. They are so engaged and their joy is pure.”

Banana Slug String Band – Youth Concert – 2011

The Strings Music Festival Youth and Family Series is popular with our youngest audience. The series began in 1995 with six concerts, and the $1 ticket price for kids is still the same today! If your kids are looking for things to do in Steamboat this summer, bring them to a performance with dancing, juggling, drumming, and learning how to make their own music. Visit our website for brief descriptions about the concerts.

2012 Youth and Family Concert Schedule:

June 26 – The Gizmo Guys – 11:00am and 5:30pm
July 3 – Alison Brown Quartet – 11:00am
July 10 – Beethoven’s Wig – 11:00am
July 17 – Fara Tolno and Kissidugu – 11:00am and 5:30pm
July 24 – Billy Jonas Band – 11:00am and 5:30pm
July 31 – Farmer Jason – 11:00am
August 7 – The Not-Its! – 11:00am

Posted on April 20, 2012
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94% of elementary schools and 91% of secondary schools offered specific music designated instruction in the 2009-10 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistic’s Arts Education Study. 

In an economy with education monies shrinking like clothes left too long in the drier, the fact that more than 90% of all schools still offer music education, sometimes considered a superfluous cost, seems exceptional. This statistic may lead us to believe that educators are listening to the data that proves music education makes better students. Here are a few findings from the National Endowment of for the Arts study of The Arts and Achievement of At-Risk Youth
      Students with arts-rich experiences showed higher overall GPAs than students without those experiences.
      Students who earned many arts credits were five times more likely to graduate than students with few or no arts credits.
      Both 8th-grade and high school students who had high levels of arts engagement were more likely to aspire to college than were students with less arts engagement.
      Students who had intensive arts experiences in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree. They also were more likely to earn “mostly A’s” in college.

While the majority of students in the United States have access to public music education, there is a wide range of quality of that education. An NPR blog post on the same topic sheds some light on the disparity between what schools offer and what students actually receive. Richard Kessler, Dean of Mannes College The New School of Music and former Executive Director of The Center for Arts Education notes, “What the data isn’t telling you is that you can have schools where there is one music teacher and 1,000 students. Some of those students are going to get music and some of those students aren’t.”

The recent studies break down music education according to socioeconomic status (SES) of the schools. SES is determined by the percentage of students in a school district that qualify to receive free and reduced-cost lunch. According to the chart below, it is clear to see that as poverty increases, access to music instruction, arts specialists, number of music classes, a district curriculum guide, and dedicated music rooms decrease.

Chart from NCES Arts Education Report
At a quick glance, Steamboat Springs appears to be relatively high in SES. Yet, poverty numbers are on the rise. An article in the Steamboat Today dated October 5, 2011 discusses the free and reduced-cost lunch program. According to the article, “In October 2010, the Steamboat Springs School District had 280 students, or 13 percent of its overall student enrollment, in the free and reduced-cost lunch program. As of this year’s October 1 student count, 382 students were signed up to receive free or reduced-cost lunches. That number represents 17 percent of the district’s student population.” Expand the scope to include all of Routt county and the poverty numbers increase to 40% in Hayden and South Routt.

Courtesy of the Steamboat Today

While Steamboat Springs does not demonstrate extreme poverty, the district does exhibit characteristics of low income schools. Sarah Bainter Cunningham, Executive Director of Research for Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts and the NEA’s former Director of Arts Education, speaks about low income schools and the arts. “We start to see an achievement gap not only where fewer low income schools have the arts, but where there are fewer kinds of music courses. Music teachers have to collaborate more with classroom teachers, they’re traveling between more schools, spreading themselves thin and perhaps have less time to perform themselves.”  

This statement accurately describes the music education department of Steamboat Springs Middle and High School. Instrumental students have limited music class choices of either concert band or jazz band. There is no orchestra, string program, or audition only ensembles. The only small group ensemble is percussion with no other specialized performance options for other instruments. Additionally, one band director is responsible for both the middle school and the high school, meaning that students receive less individualized instruction time. The music program has continued to grow, with record numbers this year and an expected retention rate of 100% for the 2012-13 school year. The student to teacher ratio continues to increase, which means overflowing classes and fewer chances for individualized instruction.  

While supplemental music education programs, such as Strings School Days, help boost what kids get in school, it’s not a replacement for every day music instruction. In order to provide our youth with skills to make them successful adults, we must continue to advocate for public music instruction in Routt County.

Posted on April 18, 2012
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We’ve sure had some wild weather in Steamboat Springs this week. Everything from a record breaking 71 degrees on Wednesday, the first thunderstorm of the season, and finishing out the week with a fresh blanket of snow over the valley. Weather also makes a lasting impression on our patrons who have attended concerts in pouring rain and thunderstorms.

Strings Music Festival Tent – 2004

“Attending a concert in “the tent” during a thunder and lightning storm. The roof leaked and my favorite musical selection of the evening was “raindrops keep falling on my head. It was quite a night!” -Julia Ann and Doug Jones

“The day at the Gillerg and it rained hard! No one minded and the show went on!” -Mix and Karen

“Having concerts interrupted by the thunder and noise of hail hitting the roof of the tent!”

“Rain leaking in the tent.”

“We and our guests from California will always remember the chamber concert when it started to hail and the Steamboat elements delayed the start of an otherwise wonderful night of music.”

“Concerts in the tent stopping for thunder.”

If you’re looking for things to do in Steamboat and Colorado summer concerts, be sure to check out the Strings Music Festival Concert Calendar. Tickets for the summer are on sale now!

Posted on April 13, 2012
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With a TV and a cell phone, music fanatics get first hand interaction with all of their favorite stars as they watch the Grammys, the American Music Awards, or Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve. Viewers not only see the stars on camera, but get to join in the conversation with the help of Twitter 

While tweeting at a rock concert or at home in front of your television is almost like breathing, in a traditional concert hall the audience is warned to turn off their phones before the performance, or else risk being glared at by an angry neighbor.  

But with 140 million users and over 340 million tweets a day, Twitter has snuck its way into classical music. Some theatres, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Dayton Opera, the Carolina Ballet, and the Shakespeare Festival, have introduced “tweet seats.” In these specific seats an audience member is allowed, and even encouraged, to pull out a cell phone to share thoughts about the concert. Tweeting during a performance is a way to have a “silent” conversation where the audience can engage and actively participate in the program instead of just zoning out.

After the break, look at a Twitter conversation during a Cincinnati Orchestra concert and hear my personal thoughts on tweet seats.

The first conversation occurs between the audience and the artistic director. Twitter becomes a vessel for a virtual program book where concert notes happen in real time. Such concert notes have traditionally been written in a program book. Many people want to know the story behind the music and want to follow along with the piece instead of reading it ahead of time. Receiving concert notes in tweets eliminates the noisy flipping of program book pages, so you only hear what you’re supposed to hear – the music. 

Another common predicament is dealing with works written in other languages. Countless operas, arias, songs, and dramatic works are not in English, and the audience wants to know the meaning of the words. To remedy the problem, some translations are printed in program books. But it can be difficult to follow along in a dark performance hall. Another solution is to project the subtitles behind the musicians on the stage. But audience members who either know the language or don’t want the translation may find constantly flashing words distracting. The next solution? Tweet the subtitles. Those who want to follow along can do so without bothering anyone. 

At some moments in a concert it’s tempting to lean over to your friend and whisper some comment. “Did you notice how everyone seemed to hold their breath at the end of that solo?” Instead of distracting a whole bunch of people sitting nearby, these comments can now be tweeted to the audience. And instead of dragging your best friend with you who really doesn’t want to go, but feels guilty for making you go alone and looks like he’s in a sort of hypnotic trance the entire time, you can talk with others who are passionate and knowledgeable about music.  

Besides the concert enhancements for audience members, music organizations and venues that allow tweet seats may see even greater benefits. The more a business name name is used online, the more likely it will come up in search results, which means it’s more likely people will find out about it, and more likely that people will buy tickets. With live tweets during a concert, there is potential for a whole lot of free publicity. Conversations about the arts will keep people invested, ensuring the future of live classical music, theatre, and opera. 

Those who have already established tweet seats have seen positive results. The USA Today reports on one happy tweeter attending the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), which began using tweet seats in September. “Tweeting the CSO’s performance was like attending a members-only social event in the midst of a traditionally formal setting,” said tweeter Jennifer Nissenbaum. “I could communicate openly about my reactions to the music, musicians, and conductor – without speaking a word. Plus, I had the opportunity to engage others and get their reactions to the performance.”

So how do I feel about tweet seats? I like to use a performance as a method to get away from it all. Much like reading a book, I want to become fully engrossed in the story. I may think of something along the way that I’d like to share with someone, but that doesn’t mean that I pull out my phone and send a text that minute. At a concert I don’t want to be distracted by what the person next to me has to say. To all those tweeters out there, thanks for finding a silent way to talk during the show, but I’ll shut my phone off and get back to you in a couple of hours.

Posted on April 11, 2012
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Chamber Music at the Steamboat Athletic Club – 1991

Did you know that Strings Music Festival first began at the Steamboat Athletic Club on the deck of Storm Meadows? Here are some of the favorite memories from that time:

“Playing on the Athletic Club deck and admiring the flattops years ago.”
“Sitting at Slopeside eating dinner and listening to the Strings concert at the same time.” -Karen Linsky
“Walking through the woods to and from the Storm Meadows Athletic Club for concerts.”

“Recruiting audience members to move the piano in the Steamboat Athletic Club.”

The Strings staff was nervous for their first ever concert and hoped at least one person would show up. Imagine their surprise when they peered out the windows to see an audience of 250 people! They even had to find more chairs to accommodate everyone. This was the first time that live classical music was available in Steamboat Springs. Concerts were held at the Steamboat Athletic Club for four years, until the fire martial said that patrons could no longer sit on the roof for concerts.

Posted on April 6, 2012
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