Strings in the Mountains

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This is an exciting year for the Strings in the Mountains Music Festival. After 17 years, the festival finally has a permanent home.

A year ago, Strings purchased seven acres of land near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area after searching for the perfect property for more than five years.

"We wanted to control our environment," Strings president and CEO Kay Clagett said. "It took that long, but we love the location.

"We have views in every direction. You can see the Flat Tops, Emerald Mountain, Sleeping Giant and Mount Werner and the sunsets are spectacular."

Strings is at the intersection of Mount Werner and Pine Grove roads. The property is adjacent to the Meadows parking lot, which is available to concert attendees.

The Strings in the Mountains Festival opens in June and hosts a full calendar of music through August.

Steamboat's own festival is the most diverse in a state famous for its summer music festivals. It features everything from classical to world music acts, jazz, bluegrass and children's concerts.

"We started out with chamber music and chamber music will always be at the heart of Strings," Clagett said, "but we have expanded our program to offer the community what they want to hear."

Strings began in 1988 with a schedule of eight concerts. This year, that number has grown to 65 concerts.

All concerts are held in a 550-seat, tensile fabric tent with walls that roll up when the summer evenings are warm.

The opening week features a free community concert on June 25 with the Music Architecture Sonic Sculpture (MASS) Ensemble, a cutting-edge group that includes artists, musicians, composers and choreographers. The MASS Ensemble is known for large-scale instruments and kinetic performances. The giant sculptural instruments provide a landscape in which the artists perform. For the Strings performance, the MASS Ensemble will turn the music tent into a giant instrument with a 360-degree harp inside.

Other highlights in the Different Tempo series include Randy Newman on June 26, Brent Rowan and Suzy Bogguss on July 3 and Marc Cohn on Aug. 20.

The festival also features a weekly free concert at the Yampa River Botanical Park called "Music on the Green" every Thursday during the lunch hour.

But the series that puts Strings on the map as a music festival is the Chamber Music Series in which the best classical musicians in the world, ready to get out of their respective cities for the summer, come to play to an intimate, mountain town audience.

The eight week Chamber Music Series will include a 100th year commemoration of Dvorak's death. Four of his works will be performed throughout the season. Strings audiences will also hear Copland's Appalachian Spring on July 10, the Carnegie Mellon Trio on Aug. 4 and Van Cliburn gold medallist Jon Nakamatsu on Aug. 17.

Free "Tent Talks" are given at noon to explain that night's classical concert.

"This is music made accessible," Clagett said. "It's outdoors. It's casual and it's a chance to see world class music in a smaller venue."

A season pass for Strings, which gets you into 26 concerts, is $485 until June 1. A classical pass is $264 for 15 concerts. A Different Tempo pass offers 11 concerts for $266.

Tickets can be purchased by phone or with a credit card by calling (970) 879-5056. Tickets also are available at the box office from 9 a.m. through concert time. Ticket requests can be e-mailed to strings@stringsinthemountains.org or print an order form from their Web site: www.stringsinthemountains.org. n

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