Arts festival an exploration

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John Sant'Ambrogio came to Steamboat Springs for the first time in the mid-1980s to start a small music camp with Kay Clagett and Betse Grassby. The camp was called Strings in the Mountains.

Sant'Ambrogio was the founding music director for Strings and served for six years. As the principal cello for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, he watched the growth of Strings from afar.

"Arts for the Soul" evening schedule Evening events are open to the public. Prices are from $20 to $25 depending on the restaurant. The cost includes meal, entertainment, dessert and coffee. Seating is limited. Call the restaurant to make reservations. Monday 6:30 p.m. Steamboat Smokehouse, 912 Lincoln Ave. Call 879-7427. Entertainment: 1950 film "Shane" viewed and discussed with Fred Hunter, Hollywood screenwriter. Tuesday 6:30 p.m. Outlaws, 1965 Ski Time Square Drive. Call 879-6348. Entertainment: Drama/concert by St. Ambrose String Quartet titled "Passionate Men: Music of Schubert, Tschaikovsky and others." Wednesday 6:30 p.m. Sheraton Steamboat Resort, main dining room. Call 879-2220. Entertainment: Move to Wild Horse Gallery after dessert for a lecture and demonstration by artist Richard Galusha; music by Russian violinist Dmitri Pogorelov. Thursday 6:30 p.m. Dos Amigos, 1910 Mt. Werner Road. Call 879-4270. Entertainment: Lecture by local author Jill Murphy Long titled "Permission to ...," followed by short music presentation by St. Ambrose String Quartet. Friday 6:30 p.m. Ore House at Pine Grove, 1465 Pine Grove Road. Call 879-1190. Entertainment: St. Ambrose String Quartet will perform "Muses, Angels and Heavenly Inspiration." For schedule of events from Sept. 4 to 10, call John Sant'Ambrogio at 879-9381.

Now on the verge of retirement, Sant'Ambrogio has returned to Steamboat to start an arts festival he hopes will have similar success. This is the first year for "Arts for the Soul," a two-week multi-venue exploration of music, film, writing and visual art.

After 45 years of playing with major symphonies, Sant'Ambrogio said he's ready to do other things with his life.

"I want to try so many things," he said. "I want to try film. I like to hike and sail. I like to create, and I don't like to sit down."

Sant'Ambrogio hopes to attract people like himself to his new arts retreat and, though it's open to people of all ages, he wants to inspire people older than 50 who are "entering their second adolescence," he said. "What keeps me young is mental stimulation. To me, the arts are the best way to stay alive."

The two-week workshop, for which registration is required, will be complemented by evening sessions, including dinner and entertainment, which are open to the general public.

Sant'Ambrogio hired writers, artists and musicians from Steamboat Springs and around the globe to speak and perform at the "Arts for the Soul" seminars. This year is a two-week experiment to gauge interest, but Sant'Ambrogio hopes to expand the retreat into a three-month event spanning September, October and November.

"I want to start a community of people who are excited about giving back to the young through what they've learned in their lives," he said. "This community is so artistic. I would like to join it and bring people here to see it."

For more information, visit www.artsforthesoul.net.

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