Thursday, November 4, 2004
Mary Beth Norris has been playing and advocating music in Steamboat Springs for 25 years and has taught hundreds of Routt County children how to play the flute during that time.
This year, the Emerald City Opera decided it was time to give her some recognition.
The opera offered her a place to play, publicized the event and took care of all the logistics. All she had to do was show up and play. Springsips footed the bill for any extra expenses.
"I don't have to turn the lights on, set up the chairs or bring cookies," Norris said. "And they didn't give me any parameters or limitations."
Norris responded by creating a one-hour concert featuring mostly baroque flute pieces. She also saw it as a chance to show off some of her favorite local musicians -- Cristel Houston (piano), Randy Kelley (guitar), Larry Gulley (concertina), Andrea Schaffner (harpsichord) and Eric Flam (cello).
"This is just a small part of the growing group of musicians in this community," Norris said. "We are playing for free. These are my friends, and we are playing pieces that we like, that we want to play, that we wanted to learn and grow with. This concert should be a lot of fun."
For Sunday afternoon's program, Norris chose songs from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although the pieces are very different, they share one element -- the flute seems to sing in each one. Norris chose songs with a "voice" because of her sponsor, Emerald City Opera, whose goal is to encourage vocal music in Steamboat.
"I thought about how music has evolved over the years. It started with just the voice," she said.
Norris has played the flute since she was 9 years old.
"I started playing the flute because I wanted to play it," she said. "Simple. I never wanted to play anything else, and I still don't.
"I love everything about it. I tried to leave it several times, and I can't stay away from it. I like the way it sounds. I like the music that was written for it, and I like fellow flutists."
During those years of playing the flute, Norris has collected file cabinets full of sheet music written for the instrument.
She chose "Petite Valse for Flute and Piano" by Andre Caplet, "Madrigal" by Philip Gaubert and the "Hamburger Sonata" by C.P.E. Bach.
C.P.E. Bach was a court musician for Frederick the Great and the second son of the famous J.S. Bach.
"C.P.E. Bach wrote some pretty outrageous pieces for his boss," Norris said.
Sunday afternoon's concert is free, but donations are requested for a vocal music scholarship.