'Experience of a lifetime'

Young musicians to perform with Denver Young Artists Orchestra

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Key points ¤ Denver Young Artists Orchestra ¤ 7 p.m. Tuesday ¤ Strings Music Tent in the Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park across from the Meadows parking lot ¤ $12; available in the Strings in the Mountains box office and at the door ¤ 879-5056 ext. 105 Above ¤ Photo by Tyler Arroyo ¤ Violinists Susanna Lockhart, 15, from left, Anna Roder, 13, and Danielle Heath, 12, were chosen to perform with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra. Pianist Charlie Stoddard, 14, also will play with the orchestra.

Four young Steamboat musicians have been giving up their Saturdays and getting up at 4 a.m. to travel to Denver. From 9 a.m. to noon, they practice the chamber-music pieces they will present to audiences Tuesday when they perform with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, the first concert of the 2005 Strings in the Mountains Music Festival summer season.

Violinists Danielle Heath, 12, Susanna Lockhart, 15, and Anna Roder, 13, along with pianist Charlie Stoddard, 14, were chosen to perform with the group because of their talents and commitments to their instruments.

Anna picked up a violin for the first time when she was 3 years old.

"I just wanted to play the violin," she said. "I don't even know why." She was a natural.

Susanna and Danielle were much the same, drawn to the instrument for reasons they didn't understand and with no prompting from their parents.

"I would sit in the car and pretend to play the violin," Danielle said. She picked up her first violin when she was 4 years old.

"What I like about the violin is that it's really hard to play at first," Anna said. "You can't just play for fun. You have to work at it. You have to earn it. Not many people can play the violin."

All three girls study under Theresa Steffen-Greenlee, and they all cite her as their musical hero.

"It's so fun to play with her because she treats you like you're a grown up," Danielle said.

The girls were intimidated the first time they went to Denver to play with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, but they soon relaxed.

"It's kind of mind-blowing, actually, to see what these kids can do," Anna said. "Some of them are 12 and 13 years old."

The concept of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra is to give children an opportunity to perform with their peers from other communities and to perform in an area outside of metro Denver, DYAO executive director Erin McLain said.

McLain worked for Strings more than 10 years ago. When she took the job at DYAO four years ago, she immediately called Strings to schedule a date for her students to perform in Steamboat.

Twenty-two musicians from DYAO will come to Steamboat to perform with our young local musicians. They will perform a chamber concert that includes pieces by Haydn, Mozart and Handel.

"These are kids, but a lot of these kids will go on to be professional musicians," McLain said. "Our kids are going to get a lot out of playing with the kids from Steamboat, and I think the kids from Steamboat are going to get a lot out of it, too."

Local music teacher Mary Beth Norris, who recommended Charlie, Susanna, Danielle and Anna for this concert, agreed.

"They're wonderful kids, great players, and they're getting the experience of a lifetime by playing this concert," Norris said.

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