Strings School Days to wrap up with 2 shows |

Strings School Days to wrap up with 2 shows

Simon Boyar will lead 8 ensembles during performances Thursday and Friday

Musician Simon Boyar plays a marimba along with the Christian Heritage School choir Wednesday afternoon at Strings Music Pavilion. The summer program wraps up with shows at 7 p.m. today and Friday.

— Hundreds of tiny hands stretched desperately into the air in the Strings Music Pavilion on Wednesday afternoon, as if nearly every elementary school student in the audience had the most important question in the world burning in their gut.

On the stage, marimba player and Strings School Days program featured musician Simon Boyar was overwhelmed.

"Do you like what you do?" one student asked.

"I love what I do," Boyar said energetically as he paced the stage. "I mean, I live in New York City, and I get to come out here to Colorado to be with you guys, all because I play music.

"I love it all, and you should find something you love to do, too, because it's the only way to be."

As the culmination of three visits to Steamboat Springs in two years, Boyar will lead eight local ensembles in a final concert for Strings School Days Thursday and Friday.

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Wednesday's field trip and percussion demonstration also acted as a dress rehearsal for one of the choir groups set to take the stage Thursday night.

The concerts are free, but reservations are required. Both shows begin at 7 p.m. at Strings Music Pavilion. Thursday night, the show features the Steamboat Springs High School concert band and jazz band, the Christian Heritage School choir and the Lowell Whiteman Primary School strings ensemble.

Friday's performance will showcase the Steamboat Springs Middle School seventh-grade band, the seventh-grade percussion ensemble, the eighth-grade band and the Northwest Colorado select band.

Boyar has written original pieces for some of the groups, and those songs will see their world premiere at the concerts.

"I think it's so special that he wrote something just for us," said Christian Herigage School student Shealie Jenkins after performing Boyar's original marimba and choir piece "Away" for the elementary school visitors Wednesday.

"It's cool to perform with someone of his caliber," added classmate Emily Heiner. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Strings Music Festival Education Director Elissa Greene said she has seen the program — in its second two-year cycle — support local school-based music programs.

"Music programs have larger enrollment and are playing harder music now," Greene said.

She said Strings is planning the third program, which would bring a new musician to the schools next winter or spring.

Boyar said the program should act as a reminder of the importance of the arts in students' lives in a time when music programs around the country are on the chopping block.

"It's an advocacy for the arts in general and the kind of experiences these kids get out of it," he said. "And it's one thing to say it, but when you get all these kids up there doing it with me, it shows what an amazing experience it is."

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