Steamboat Symphony opens season with ‘Star Wars,’ Sibelius |

Steamboat Symphony opens season with ‘Star Wars,’ Sibelius

Nicole Inglis

— With a 20th anniversary under its belt, the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra is forging ahead and taking on virtuosic, major symphonic works, which will be evident by the first triumphant notes played at the Opening Concert on Saturday.

"Star Wars Suite" should sound familiar to anyone who has seen the legendary George Lucas film series and even for many of those who haven't.

Symphony Music Director Ernest Richardson said that's one of the reasons he chose the iconic piece.

"John Williams has had an amazing career as a movie composer," he said. "I suppose, for many people, 'Star Wars' is the most memorable of all his scores. There's something about everything that came together for him as a composer and the storyline that just works. The thing that's wonderful about playing John Williams' music is that he writes so well for orchestra. The symphony sounds so brilliant."

The concert is at 7 p.m. Saturday, and tickets range from $1 for youths to $35 for adults.

In the first half of the show, the orchestra will play "Main Title," "Yoda's Theme" and "Imperial March."

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While the London Symphony recorded the original soundtrack, Richardson said the approximately 50-piece Steamboat Symphony Orchestra easily will fill the Strings Music Pavilion space, offering the audience a sense of the music's power.

Richardson said the music is virtuosic and difficult, indicative of the evolution of the orchestra.

"Our horn section really proved themselves last year," he said.

The second act might seem a far cry from "Star Wars"; Jean Sibelius' Second Symphony was written during the Romantic period in 1900. But John Williams had something in common with the Finnish composer.

"The Sibelius has a similar storyline in it," he said. "There's an arc of a victory of an intense struggle.

"The sound of the orchestra you will hear in 'Star Wars' that everybody knows, that sound was developed really by the Romantic composers," he said. "They use the orchestra in similar ways. I think people will draw the connection between the two."

Before the concert at 6 p.m., children younger than 13 are invited to meet Richardson, explore the instruments and get a special backstage tour.

As a community orchestra, Richardson said the organization's strength is in its connection to the arts community and its cultivation. Many young music students take lessons with Steamboat Symphony Orchestra musicians. Seeing them in concert will bring it full circle.

"If they're skiers, they need to see the guy winning the gold medal and imagine themselves doing it someday," he said. It's the same with young musicians. "They need to be present; they need to be able to connect with that."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

All Arts Festival

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