Cristin Frey: Behind the Romantic period |

Cristin Frey: Behind the Romantic period

Cristin Frey / For the Steamboat Today

— To me, it's the people behind the music that add an element of interest. Many people overlook classical music and composers and view them as stuffy or boring, but the Classical and Romantic periods closely resemble a VH1 "Behind the Music" episode. You have to be some sort of eclectic character or genius to write a symphony for more than 30 parts. On a side note, these days, there are computer programs for this — it's like what Photoshop has done for photography.

I wanted to learn more about these composers. I wanted to know who the high school jock was, the pretty boy, the over-indulger, the lover. This is what my dinner party of composers would feel like.

Johann Sebastian Bach would be the obvious ringer since he is sure to be a ladies man, having fathered 20 children. With his zest for life and taste for beer, he just might be the life of the party (he was even in a sword fight). Of course, you would need a foodie, so I would invite Gioachino Rossini, a guy who gave up a wildly popular composing career in his 30s to devote his life to cooking and eating. You also would need the quiet guy, so Frédéric Chopin is the obvious choice, especially if he would entertain the other guests by improvising at the piano until the wee hours of the night, something he was known for. I also would not forget the manic Robert Schumann who tried to drown himself in the Rhine River and eventually was committed to an insane asylum. Some of the greatest minds also are the most unstable.

If you know more about these composers than I do, contact Strings because we just might be looking for a new Ken Greene, the former voice behind Strings' Classical Series.

If you want to hear what these composers are really known for, check out their music this week at Strings Music Festival.

One of last year's most popular classical programs was Music from the Movies. On Wednesday, the Strings Festival Orchestra, conducted by Andrés Cárdenes, brings back this idea by performing classical pieces made famous by their appearance in movies. You will hear selections from "Five Easy Pieces," "Raising Cain," "Out of Africa," "Children of a Lesser God" and "Fantasia," among others. The highlight of the evening will be when 14 local student musicians join the orchestra for Mozart's Symphony No. 40.

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Saturday marks the end of the classical side of the 25th Anniversary of Strings Music Festival. Making sparks fly is pianist Wendy Chen, who will perform Chopin's colorful "Piano Concerto No. 2." Rossini's overture to the opera "La Scala di Seta" is dazzling and exciting, and the concert closes with Tchaikovsky's "Mozartiana Suite," based on themes of Mozart.

On Friday, international star k.d. lang takes the Strings stage with her band the Siss Boom Bang for one of the largest productions we have ever had. She is known for her country-rock voice, and Tony Bennett called her "the best singer of her generation."

For tickets and more information about these concerts, visit

Cristin Frey is the advertising and marketing director and the outreach programs coordinator for String Music Festival. She can be reached at 970-879-5056, ext. 104 or at

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