Strings music directors step down

After 15 years, Collier and Schotten ready to move on

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— When Katherine Collier and Yizhak Schotten took over the classical portion of the Strings Music Festival 15 years ago, they set out to bring in world-class musicians and put on great concerts.

On Thursday, Strings announced the husband-and-wife duo's resignation from their post.

Their tenure saw the evolution of the festival, previously Strings in the Mountains, grow from a small summer affair to a two-month celebration of music from around the world. In the 2008 season, Collier and Schotten programmed about a dozen concerts and hosted more than 100 classical musicians.

"We really love Steamboat, and we love the people there. But after 15 years, we are just ready to go on with the next phase of our life," Collier said.

"Just to see this growth of the festival - we've tried very hard to bring in world-class musicians and put on great concerts, and hopefully, we've succeeded in that. And with the new pavilion, that's like the icing on the cake," she said.

Kay Clagett, executive director for the festival, said the Strings board of directors is starting to consider options to fill the music director position. The music director is responsible for booking all classical musicians who play at Strings each summer, programming the pieces they play and deciding what combinations of players will work best.

In addition to working with Strings, Collier and Schotten founded the Kapalua Music Festival (now the Maui Classical Music Festival) in 1982; founded the Linton Music Series in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1978; and teach music at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. With their festival work, Collier said she and Schotten aim to keep the audience engaged.

"One of our trademarks is that we love to have a lot of variety within each concert. We've done a lot of other festivals in addition to our Maui festival, and this is really what I would consider our trademark and what we're known for, is that we love to have many instruments," Collier said. "We try to think of what will make it interesting to the audience. : Our preference is to just mix it up and have every piece have a different instrumentation and have a different color and variety."

Clagett said she's grateful to the former music directors for providing the festival and the community of Steamboat Springs with 15 years of quality classical music.

"When they started, we were kind of just a little mountain festival, and I think they have brought Strings to national prominence," Clagett said.

"And to coin a phrase, I guess (they) just really hit a chord with this community."

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