Elissa Greene: A lively week at Strings | SteamboatToday.com

Elissa Greene: A lively week at Strings

Elissa Greene

Canadian flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook takes to the Strings Music Pavilion stage Thursday and Friday, part of a busy week for the Steamboat Springs music festival.

Strings Music Festival has a diverse and lively week of performances. The timing couldn't be better, as concertgoers will be able to enjoy some musical pyrotechnics along with Steamboat's Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

On Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain Children's Choir performs two shows, at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. There are still tickets available for $10 for adults and $1 for children. Based in Denver, the choir performing this week includes 55 singers from grades 6 through 12. They also are joined by 20 of Steamboat's own young singers. If you're new to Strings, I especially recommend coming to one of these Tuesday concerts. They are great for the whole family and a lot of fun.

On Wednesday, violinist Elissa Lee Koljonen and pianist Ian Hobson perform Franz Waxman's "Concert Fantasy" on themes of "Carmen," the famous opera by French composer Georges Bizet. It is among the most brilliant of the many adaptations of "Carmen." Also featured are pieces by Kodály, a piece arranged for French horn and piano from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" and Schubert's brilliant "Trout" Quintet, written for the unusual combination of violin, viola, cello, piano and double bass.

Thursday and Friday celebrate the return of flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook to the Strings stage. The Canadian guitarist has produced seven studio albums in the past 15 years, most recently releasing "The Rumba Foundation" on which he worked with musicians in Colombia to create a genuine South American sound. The album debuted at No. 1 on Canada's iTunes charts, ahead of Madonna and the Black Eyed Peas. Jesse Cook's sound invokes summer — sultry, hot Latin tempos. You can't help but get out of your seat when you listen to him play.

On Saturday, pianist Gilles Vonsattel joins Ian Hobson in an arrangement of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "The Rite of Spring" for piano, four hands, arranged by Stravinsky himself. Don't miss this performance. The multimedia images projected simultaneously with the music include dancers from the San Francisco Ballet and abstract artwork. The performance of this piece features a fascinating multimedia presentation of simultaneous projections of the hands of the pianists paired with abstract artwork and video clips of dancers performing portions the ballet. Also performed are works by Dvorák and Brahms. Dvorák's Piano Quartet in D Major is saturated with the spirit of Slavic folk music. Brahms' Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano, a unique combination of instruments in chamber music, was written in memory of Brahms' father who died three months earlier and is evocative of nature and hunting. This piece is a deeply personal statement and ends with a virtuosic tour de force for all three instruments.

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