Our upcoming family concert, Cuentos: Tales from the Latino World is this Sunday! Cuentos stars David Gonzalez, master storyteller and musician, as he tells stories, fairy tales and magical legends from Mexico, the Caribbean and the Bronx. The show is an amazing glimpse into Latino culture, and our partners at the Bud Werner Memorial Library have made the experience even better and more fulfilling for families. The children’s librarians created an amazing book list for our young people. Any of the books on this list would be a great introduction for your child to Latino culture and make their concert experience richer. Even more – did you know we’ve also partnered with the Bud Werner Memorial Library to be a summer reading hot spot? If your child is caught reading at the pavilion or in the Festival Park, they could win a free ticket to a family show by showing their library card! Strings is proud to encourage reading this summer with the library. We hope to see you soon!

Pablo NerudaPancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

Grades 1-4

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown

Grades 1-4

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Grades 1-4 

Drum Dream Girl: how one girl’s courage changed music by Margarite EngleDrum Dream Girl

Grades 1-4

The Coyote Under the Table by Joe Hayes

Grades 1-7







Day it Snowed TortillasThe Day it Snowed Tortillas by Joe Hayes

Grades 4 – 6

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

Grades 4-8







Yes We ARe Latinos

Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango

Grades 4-7

Yes! We Are Latinos by Alma Flor Ada

Grades 4-8


Stay tuned for our next family concert book list about C Street Brass and what it means to be sensory friendly.

Posted on July 5, 2016
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By Ali Mignone stage manager for Strings Music Festival

Two of the shows at Strings this week—Tuesday’s family concert at 5:30pm and Wednesday’s classical chamber music at 7pm—feature an unusual instrument called the cimbalom. In its concert case, the cimbalom looks a little like a cousin to a piano. Except that the cimbalom is sort of rectangular and has an open top that allows the musician to play the strings directly with mallets, instead of the piano’s familiar keyboard.

In musical terms, the cimbalom is a type of hammered dulcimer. Hammered dulcimers are folk instruments found in cultures all over the world, and they’re usually sized to be held for playing. The cimbalom, with its legged case, is the largest version of these instruments and is intended for the concert stage. As the national instrument of Hungary, the cimbalom features prominently in works by Hungarian composers.

I hadn’t heard of the cimbalom before, so when it turned out to be featured this week on the Strings Festival stage, I started to wonder what other unusual instruments might be out there. It turns out that there are approximately one zillion musical instruments that are not part of a typical western music orchestral roster. Unfortunately, column space limits me to just these few:

Octobass: said to be the largest string instrument ever made, this gigantic double bass has three strings. The first octobass, built in 1850, is 3.4 meters tall; it’s so big that it has levers and foot pedals to manage the strings, and is often played by two people – one to run the bow and one to run the levers and pedals. Its specialty is playing extremely low notes, some of them outside the range of human hearing.


Theremin: an early electronic instrument that looks like a transistor radio on a stick, the theremin is played by dipping the hands into and out of two invisible electromagnetic fields. Not only does it look weird itself, it also makes the musician look like a looney. The theremin was invented by a Soviet scientist studying proximity sensors in the 1920s, and although newer electronic instruments are easier to play, none of them matches the theremin’s especially creepy sound.

Pyrophone organ: this internal combustion instrument is also known as the “fire/explosion organ.” That should be enough to nullify any insurance policy right there. The pyrophone uses controlled explosions to produce tones and is usually powered by propane. I hear that playing one is just like playing a pipe organ. Except for the fire. And the explosions.


But why play these weird instruments at all? They seem unwieldy, impossibly fragile and perhaps even downright dangerous. (I’m looking at you, pyrophone.) Composers and musicians choose these instruments because of the unique sounds they make.

With its bright and energetic sound and a very fast tremolo, the cimbalom is often used by western composers to introduce a “foreign” sound. The octobass is said to produce tones so low that you can feel them vibrating your skeleton, but you can’t hear them at all. And nothing says creepy alien invasion quite like the wobbly, other-worldly tones of the theremin.

Music is emotion (and mathematics, according to my college music theory professor in a class that made me hate life), and if an instrument can produce the particular feeling needed for a piece by virtue of its unique acoustic resonance, then that is the right one for the composition. Regardless of whether or not it’s part of the western orchestral pantheon.

And maybe, regardless of whether or not it requires you to keep a fire extinguisher nearby while playing it.


Upcoming events:

Tickets available at (970) 879-5056 and www.stringsmusicfestival.com.

Ali Mignone stage manages for Strings Music Festival, among other things. When she’s not telling roadies and musicians what to do, you can find her hiking, biking or skiing around the Yampa Valley and blogging at thequirkyquill.com.


Posted on June 29, 2016
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By Ali Mignone stage manages for Strings Music Festival

If you ask someone who loves rock-n-roll to describe classical music, you might get a shrug and a vague notion of prissy violins played by snooty people in tuxedos. Turn that around and ask the classical lover about rock music, and you might get a sniff and a complaint about distorted lyrics and impossible decibel levels. And each music lover might look at the other, offended, and say, “But my music is so much more than that! You’re missing the point,” before launching into a spirited defense of their maligned genre.

And they would each be right. And also wrong.

Let’s start with the right: some classical music is rather inaccessible and precious, and lots of orchestras make the musicians dress up in monkey suits and uncomfortable, pointy shoes. And some rock music is completely unintelligible and monstrously loud for no discernable reason other than: because they can.

And now the wrong. Decibel perception and bad sound mixes aside, rock music’s driving beat and howling guitars are integral to the compositions and often showcase truly virtuosic playing abilities. And far from being stiff and proper, many of the great classical composers were the rock star rebels of their times. All of Beethoven’s symphonies except the Ninth were widely panned, with one critic saying that Beethoven was “ripe for the madhouse.” They said his work was too exciting, not dignified, discordant, harsh, wild, and utterly confusing.

That should sound familiar to anyone whose parents loved big band music and were horrified by their children’s interest in early rock-n-roll…

But I’m picking on classical and rock music unfairly. Plenty of other genres could use a little understanding, too.

Country and its sub-genres have always borrowed elements from other traditions. You’ll find Irish and Scottish folk music influences in bluegrass, hints of Mexico in honky tonk, and shades of disco in 70s country music. Today’s country includes nods to hip-hop, gospel, and rock.

Hip-hop distinguishes itself from rhythm & blues with sample loops manipulated live for stage shows by a deejay combined with rap or R&B lyrics performed live. Recorded hip-hop often has multiple, complicated sample loops from other genres underscoring the lyrics. For example, artists Nas and Puff Daddy sampled “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana on “Hate Me Now.”

World music is, enormously, non-western music. How’s that for a giant ocean of sounds to wade through?

Notoriously difficult to define, jazz has its roots in improvisational blues. But it’s not always free-form—jazz can host a strong rhythm section with African and Latin American beat patterns and ragtime’s highly structured compositions are also in the jazz category.

If you’re on the “how can you listen to that stuff” side of one of these kinds of music, let me assure you that these categories are as varied as the musicians who play them. Musicians bring their own influences with them as they glide in and out of different styles, and the styles evolve over time. No matter what your preferences, there is something in that mysterious genre that will appeal to you, if you let it.

Strings Music Festival summer season opens this week. Check out a new music genre this summer!

Upcoming events:

Tickets available at (970) 879-5056

Ali Mignone stage manages for Strings Music Festival, among other things. When she’s not telling roadies and musicians what to do, you can find her hiking, biking or skiing around the Yampa Valley and blogging at thequirkyquill.com.

Posted on June 20, 2016
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By Ali Mignone, Stage Manager for Strings Music Festival

In an age of immediate and ever-present digital entertainment—insomniacs rejoice—what’s the purpose of live performance? Why pay money to go somewhere to listen to live music with a whole bunch of people you don’t know, when you could listen to an error-free recording of the same thing from the couch only five feet from your refrigerator?

Let’s be honest. Part of the reason to go to a live show on a concert stage is because stuff might go wrong. Onstage train wrecks can be highly entertaining and provide great cocktail party conversation fodder. Plus, really good performers are often at their best when they’re speaking off-script to recover from a flub. But hoping-for-hilarious-failure aside, as audience members, why should we care whether we’re at a live event or listening to a recording in the comfort of our own homes?



I’ve written about this before in this column, noting that the audience is a vital part of any live performance. Without an audience, no matter how beautifully they play and interact with each other, musicians are just rehearsing. But what the audience gets from being there in person is engagement—with the artists, with the music itself and most importantly, with each other.

There’s a guy in the front row nodding his head to the beat, matching our tapping feet. There’s a woman closing her eyes at our favorite part. There’s a smattering of claps for a tricky section and we join in, swelling the applause until the musician gives a little bow to acknowledge the love from the crowd. At a live performance, you’re not just a passive passenger along for the ride. You are a part of the show and your reactions matter. It can turn into a loop of awesomeness: your seatmates are having fun. The musicians see that, and they play even better. You see that, and then you have more fun. The people across the aisle see you having more fun, and then they…you get the picture.

I understand the desire to listen to a favorite piece of music in private, where you can sing along into the hairbrush or wave your spoon to conduct an invisible orchestra. I also understand the pull of wanting to be alone with the music: no cell phone calls during the oboe solo, no drunk guy standing in the way during the guitar riff, no crackly candy wrappers interrupting a favorite quiet bit.

A recording is the same every time you play it, and that has a certain beauty. But each live performance is unique—whether in variations in tempo, funny mistakes that become part of the show or your own engagement level with the other souls around you experiencing and appreciating the exact same thing you are. And I think that’s worth exploring whenever possible. Hope to see you at the pavilion this summer!


Upcoming events:

 Thank you to our sponsor:


Posted on June 14, 2016
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By Ali Mignone, stage manager for Strings Music Festival

Although this stage manager’s point-of-view column only appears during the summer, Strings Music Festival is active year-round with a winter concert series and special shows for local schools in the spring. While it’s not the all-hands-on-deck, hold-onto-your-hats whirlwind schedule of the summer concert series, the off-season holds its own challenges—mainly in the form of managing snow removal and adventurous rodents and trying to keep the grand pianos from freaking out from weather changes.

One benefit of having shows year-round (beside continuing to be part of Steamboat’s lively music scene!) is that my prep work for the summer season isn’t nearly as time-consuming as it was the first year I joined the staff. It’s more like preparing for a seasonal rush than a total gear-up. I’m not one to do unnecessary work—you can say “lazy,” but I prefer “efficient”—so my off-season backstage routine is about maintaining order, systems and stock as I go, even if I’m only in the pavilion once a month.

This makes the beginning of June a lot more like “do I have what I need to support the musicians and crew for 10 weeks?” and a lot less like “what is that disgusting smell and where is it coming from?” or “how is it possible that this thing broke last year and I didn’t remember to get it fixed and now I need it for tomorrow?”


Bog #1

The Strings crew installing the sound system for the summer!

Right now, we’re stocking up on things that go fast backstage, like bottled water, musician snacks, coffee, black gaff tape, Advil and Band-Aids. The pianos already had their annual maintenance treatments, and the crew added new speakers and projectors last month. Here are few of the other things I’m attending to backstage between now and our first show (Clint Black!) on June 23:

  • Organizing shelves
  • Wiping down the fridges, tossing elderly food
  • Adding shelving for instruments and coat hooks for musician belongings
  • Donating shirts, ties and coats left in the closet from last year (you’d be surprised at how many male musicians leave clothing behind, and at how few female musicians do…)
  • Fixing the funky door into the Green Room
  • Checking for dead mice, weird smells, sticky places

Yes, thank you, my life is very glamorous.

Meanwhile, the administrative staff is:

  • Finalizing housing and travel arrangements for visiting artists
  • Putting the finishing touches on the program and arranging printing and delivery
  • Selling tickets
  • Finishing up artist contracts (Read: chasing musicians who forgot to sign and return them. Can you blame them? Music is a lot more interesting than paperwork.)

Just a few short weeks before the fun begins! Hope to see you at the pavilion this summer—I’ll be the one dressed in black wondering where the time went.


Thank you to our corporate sponsors:

Posted on June 6, 2016
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Last week, our signature education program Mozart Masters completed for the 2015-2016 school year. It was an amazing two weeks here at the pavilion for the rehearsals and concerts – but even more so, an amazing five months of mentorship and learning for the students (and the Strings staff, too! We can always learn new things). Here’s what happened:


credit Craig Daily Press

3     amazing music teachers in the Yampa Valley Schools: Jim Knapp, Mary Ann Fairlie, John Bolton

8  pizzas for hungry music students from Moffat County High School

8  songs performed by students with their mentors

7  songs were learned without sheet music!

10  professional musician mentors: Trout Steak Revival: Bevin Foley, Steve Foltz, Casey Houlihan, Will Koster, Travis McNamara;The Railsplitters: Christine King, Dusty Rider, Peter Sharpe, Lauren Stovall, Leslie Ziegler

2016_SSD_Emerald Mtn_219  workshops and rehearsals run by mentor musicians

25  videos sent by musicians to classrooms over five months

233  student musicians performed on the Strings stage

282  student musicians participated in workshops

400  students attended a field trip to watch their peers at the pavilion

741  Community Members watched the free concerts with student performances and countless school administrators supported this program!

It was an incredible five months of intense mentorship, learning bluegrass techniques and styles, and professional artistry in the classroom. Thank you, Trout Steak Revival and The Railsplitters, and a huge thank you to our supporters in the community! Stay tuned for next year.


DSC01604 Best of





Posted on April 4, 2016
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By Erin Walker
Development Director at Strings Music Festival

Music has always been a passion of mine. Moments are sometimes defined by the songs that were playing at that exact time or during a period of my life. My memories and emotions are very intertwined with songs. I will forever associate Chumbawumba with amazing nights dancing in college, an album by the Coors with a break up, or the Cure with my first real boyfriend. Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker” reminds me of the many hours I enjoyed practicing my harp and “The Magic Flute” “Queen of the Night” aria will always represent the first moment I fell in love with opera.

Playlists have taken music listening experiences to a whole new level. I have created one for every mood or just to take me back to the summer of 1999. It’s an easy way to recreate a specific feeling or emotion and have it at your fingertips. Spotify has made it even easier for us to listen to exactly what we want, when we want, and we don’t even have to buy the songs.

For all of you Strings fans, we’ve taken the liberty of bringing the summer of 2016 to you, in advance of the season! Experience the many amazing songs and artists you’ll hear in the Pavilion this summer before you even buy a ticket. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

In the meantime, I’ll be recreating my Chumbawumba dance moves for old times sake.


Posted on February 24, 2016
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by Cristin Frey
Marketing Director at Strings Music Festival

When I was first hired at Strings I was asked to pick up our Cliburn artist from the airport. All I knew was that he was set to perform a classical concert. Little did I know I was sitting next to one of the world’s greatest piano prodigies who recently won the most prestigious piano competition in the world.  And in a short matter of weeks this particular artist had left his wife and baby in Ukraine and been tossed into the journey towards professional musician here in the US. My journey from college to ski bum to musician chauffer seemed so insignificant.

Every 4 years, young pianists from around the globe converge in Fort Worth Texas to try and make a name for themselves at the Cliburn Competition. The pressure on these artists is overwhelming because the stakes are so high: prize money, concert bookings, a recording contract, even a career. A newly released documentary Virtuosity showcases the competitive journey of these young musicians. At the heart of this story is the courage it takes for a twenty-year-old to go onstage alone before 2,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more online, and play a unique interpretation of one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano.

I enjoy watching these musicians in their element. The same people I have spent time with making the lazy drive from Hayden to Steamboat, talking about the weather. In hindsight I missed out on amazing opportunities to speak with some of the most talented piano players in the world at a beautifully vulnerable time. They had been uprooted from their life and thrown into the blender of fame. You can learn more about their journey at the airing of Virtuosity on Jan 20 at the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Along with many past Strings artists the film also follows Fei-Fei Dong, who will perform at Strings on Jan 30.

Posted on January 12, 2016
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We want to share a few of our staffers “favorite things” just in time for the holiday season. Everything can be purchased locally right here in Steamboat Springs!


 Four Points BloodyKatie Carroll, Director of Artistic Administration & Education
My fa
vorite thing at the holidays is rereading The Polar Express.  I love that book and the idea that magic still exists in the every day! Believe! (cue Josh Groban).
I also love the Four Points Bloody Mary. Nothing beats an end-of-day drink at the lodge before heading down the hill for the last time. Put $15 on your friend’s pass for the next powder day! 



Erin Walker, Development Director
I love Ranch Organics Harvest Barn Balm, and every other product they make!   Ranch Organics was featured at the store Anthropolog
ie and in celebrity gift bags for major award shows.  We’re so lucky it’s made locally in the Elk River Valley, hence the moniker “Ranch to Tub.” Steamboat Coffee & Tea Co. is a local business we are so lucky to have!  Not only do they already have great roasts available, you can meet with owner John Kuhn and create your own roast!



Cristin Frey, Marketing Director
I recently discovered the macaroons from Elevated Olive and I bring them as a hostess gifts to holiday parties. They are incredible! If money is no object, you can’t beat a day with Steamboat Powdercats. Aim for a February date and pray for powder.


Leslie Morace, Finance Director
You can’t go wring with something from Yampa Valley Farms. It’s delicious, healthy, local and they even sell bacon!
To counter balance the bacon, Kristin Stevenson is a fabulous Pilate’s instructor at the Steamboat Pilates Studio and they sell gift cards. She knows exactly what to do for your body and she cares!


092612_TonightShow2_t670Elissa Greene, Executive Director
I love Daniela’s chocolates from the Homesteader. I buy this for all my out-of-town relatives. I especially love their toffee!
Who doesn’t love Smartwool products in Steamboat? This is another of my family’s favorites, I send socks, hats, gloves, you name it!



Noah Hendricks, IT Manager & Audio Engineer
I’m a big fan of Smartwool, of course, for their outstanding lineup of keep-you-warm wool products.  Also, Cowboys and Indians for their amazing selection of Native-inspired rugs.


Dustin Bergstrom, Box Office Manager
Harwig’s gift certificates! By far the best food in town accompanied by $7 Grey Goose martinis (plural), nuff said.  Head over to Steamboat Powersports and buy yourself a brand new Harley Davidson, because it’s a Harley Davidson. 



Steve Chambers, Production Director
A Cafe Diva gift certificate, any reason to eat there is a GREAT reason. And Central Park Liquor gift certificates…the gift that keeps on giving….and its never the wrong size.




Posted on December 18, 2015
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By Noah Hendricks
Audio Engineer at Strings Music Festival


On a recent trip eastward, I spent time with family in a way many city folk do: shopping. While my mother and sister ventured through an endless cosmos of linens and bathroom peripherals, my father and I veered starboard to the bookstore. Through the islands of best sellers and political propaganda, I sought the multimedia section, where I found myself stunned.

A room once loaded with plastic trays, headphones hardwired to song samplers, and a selection so bountiful you could barely find what you thought to buy, large album covers now sprawled. Gloomy or gorgeous, depending on your stance,  canvases were twelve inches across, relatively the size of a billboard. Barnes and Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, ditched its compact discs for vinyl records.

According to Digital Trends, 2014 was the first time in twenty years for vinyl sales to cross the nine million mark (9.2!). In 2015, statistics say that number may be even bigger. The top seller of 2015? Taylor Swift’s Grammy-nominated 1989. (Well, of course, until Adele inevitably stole the spotlight with a reprise tale of an ex-boyfriend). But Swift, 26, must be speaking to her peers. Coincidentally, I, almost-26, recently purchased an Audio Technica LP-60 turntable, and with no other way made a duct tape shoulder strap to bike my new toy home.

The debates between analog and digital formats will never end. Maybe that’s because comparing the two is like trying to equate a painter’s brush to a dot-matrix printer. Regardless, audio engineers cherish the character of analog circuits, and in modern days we savor them through downloadable software plug-ins. These mimic effects like reel-to-reel tape saturation and optical dynamics compression to get the rare, vibrant nature of hardware without the need to patch cables and manually restore settings. Even the hard drives containing a career’s journey through downloads have ditched their moving parts for new solid-state chips that provide instant gratification. What has never been up for debate is the ritual. Putting on a record is much more involved than choosing a hot beat via “workout” radio on Spotify.

So, if you had an album in mind, perhaps you should check if it’s being printed to vinyl. Unsurprisingly, all five 2016 Album of the Year Grammy nominations are available on vinyl. As for the season, one might suggest Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas to Me, or maybe the now-classic Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas. No matter which you choose, consider giving one as a somewhat agonizing gift; if you find it opened by the stereo, you’ll know the time they spent. For you, finding vinyl might be easier than you think.

Upcoming Concerts at Strings Music Pavilion
December 20:  The Story Pirates
December 22: A Celtic Christmas
January 22: DeadPhish Orchestra
January 30:  Cliburn Pianist
March 5: Del McCoury and David Grisman

Posted on December 16, 2015
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