Strings Music Festival: Musical chairs: a backstage workout regimen |

Strings Music Festival: Musical chairs: a backstage workout regimen

Ali Mignone/For the Steamboat Today

Sean Chen will perform at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Strings Music Festival.

Among the athletic elite residents of Steamboat, I often feel like a corgi who accidentally wandered into a greyhound pack. But since my main reason for exercising is so that I can consume alarming amounts of cheese and wine without having to buy new (larger) pants every month, I'm fine with just tagging along.

Given my bacchanal inclinations, you can imagine that I'm not particularly disciplined about my exercise routine, as long as I do something strenuous and sweaty pretty often. So I was pleased to discover that my position as stage manager at Strings Music Festival came with a built-in exercise class: moving chairs.

With multiple performances onstage and rehearsals, rentals, load-ins and dress rehearsals happening in between, here's what the chair round-up looked like two weeks ago:


• 10 chairs on

• 10 chairs off

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• 10 chairs on

• 10 chairs off

Wednesday (dress rehearsal + performance = doubling up on stage moves!)

• 20 chairs on

• 20 chairs off

• 42 chairs on (for next day's rehearsal)


• No moves! A "rest" day.

Friday (classical rehearsal + Different Tempo concert = doubling up on stage moves!)

• Shift 26 chairs to accommodate piano onstage with 42 other musicians

• 42 chairs off

• 42 chairs on after Different Tempo show

Saturday (dress rehearsal + performance = doubling up on stage moves!)

• Shift 52 chairs (26 chairs from "with piano" to "without piano" position twice)

• 42 chairs off

By the end of that week, the Strings crew had moved 326 chairs. Because I'm the one who gets to write this column, I claim half as my own: I moved at least 163 chairs. At 15 pounds apiece, that's 2,445 pounds. By my estimate, moving more than a ton of anything earns me the right to eat as much cheese as I can carry. Brilliant!

And this list doesn't include the piano and the music stands — I'm telling you that this is the best gig in the business. Working with world-class musicians, technicians and staff; hearing amazing live music of all genres; and getting my workout in at the same time? Who else can say that?

Now if only I can convince Strings to open a second venue across town so that I can get some cardio in, my cross-training plan for ski season will be complete.

Ali Mignone is the stage manager for Strings Music Festival.

Coming up this week at Strings

• Tuesday: Youth: Billy Jonas Band

• Wednesday: Classical: Cliburn Piano Medalist Sean Chen

• Thursday: Music on the Green: Acutonic

• Friday: Different Tempo: Jesse Cook

• Saturday: Crossover: Quincy Jones Presents: The Emily Bear Jazz Trio

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