Elissa Greene: Mixing it up at Strings | SteamboatToday.com

Elissa Greene: Mixing it up at Strings

Among the variety of artists performing this week at Strings Music Festival is piano sensation Michael Kaeshammer.

— Now that we've featured traditional orchestral and chamber music, as well as some popular jazz and country artists, we're switching it up a bit this week at Strings Music Festival. The Modern Storytelling performances on Wednesday and Saturday bring contemporary music, dance, song, narration and a multimedia presentation you won't want to miss. Michael Kaeshammer also returns to Strings this week for a popular boogie-woogie piano concert.

The Strings week opens with jazz musician Michael Friedman and his quartet at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Friedman performs a show for kids featuring music from his album "Swingset Jazz." The concert is entertaining, educational and interactive.

Four contemporary pieces will be performed Wednesday. Featured are composers Witold Lutoslawski, Luciano Berio, Eduardo Alonso-Crespo and composer-in-residence David Stock. Stock will conduct his own piece, "Eagle Girl," in its debut performance. "Eagle Girl" is an original story inspired by Native American folktales. Behind a chamber ensemble of seven musicians, images flip on a projector screen to bring the story to life. Throughout the piece, narrator Bess Welden, who also wrote the script, tells the story. The new sound system and large projection screen of the Strings Music Pavilion will highlight the combination of illustration, music and narration.

On Friday, piano phenomenon Michael Kaeshammer returns to the stage for an unforgettable night of toe-tapping, boogie-woogie piano. Kaeshammer excited everyone in the audience last year with his amazing piano playing, singing and stage presence. This year he will be joined by six musicians to perform a show that is sure to bring down the house.

On Saturday, three different modern pieces are featured, including John Corigliano's "Snapshot: Circa 1909" for String Quartet. Composer-in-residence Marilyn Taft Thomas will be at Strings to present the world premiere of her piece "The Elements." The closing piece of the program, "Alice: Reimagining Wonderland," is the biggest classical music production ever held on the Strings stage. Complete with music, dance, song and narration, 15 dancers and musicians tell a variation on Lewis Carroll's famous tale of "Alice in Wonderland." Composer Joseph Hallman will be at the performance to introduce this very captivating piece, which includes an original dance component created by visiting choreographer Katie Wells.

Have you ever wondered how composers were inspired to write music? This week you can learn about the story behind the music from three contemporary American composers. Marilyn Taft Thomas, David Stock and Joseph Hallman, with Strings music directors Monique Mead and Andrés Cárdenes, discuss their compositions and world premieres being performed at the Strings Music Pavilion. The talks take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 12:15 p.m. at Bud Werner Memorial Library. The discussions are free.

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Elissa Greene is the director of artistic administration, education and technology at Strings Music Festival. She can be reached at elissa@stringsmusicfestival.com or 970-879-5056, ext. 100.

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