Carol and Bill Overmyer check out the program for the Strings Music Festival inside the new pavilion during an open house Tuesday evening.

Photo by John F. Russell

Carol and Bill Overmyer check out the program for the Strings Music Festival inside the new pavilion during an open house Tuesday evening.

Strings celebrates new venue with gala concert

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Upcoming performances

- "Old World Charm," opening concert of the Strings Casual Classics Series; featuring works by Dvorak and Bartok; 7 p.m. today; $25 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 18

- Music on the Green, featuring resident artists Lyrica Quartet; 12:15 to 1 p.m. Thursday; Free

- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, part of the Strings Music Festival Different Tempo Series; 8 p.m. Thursday; regular seating for this concert is sold out; lawn seats for $27.50 will go on sale at 9 a.m. Thursday at the box office

— It is uncommon for classical music concerts to begin with standing, whooping ovations.

On Saturday, opening night for the 2008 Strings Music Festival featured two such displays - rowdy ones - well before any performers took the stage.

After 15 years with the Strings Tent, the 21-year-old summer music festival hosted the first public performance in its new, $4.3 million home with a gala piano concert.

Taking the stage to applause, yelling and whistling that filled the new Strings Music Pavilion, Strings Executive Director Kay Clagett gave some idea of the work that has gone into building a small series of chamber music concerts into a diversified, summer-long festival with a permanent, air-conditioned home.

"After 20 years, we never have to move another piece of equipment or listen to a tent flap. It's music to our ears," Clagett said before the start of Saturday's concert. The show, featuring pianists Alpin Hong, Cary Lewis, Erika Nickrenz and Jade Simmons, was an alternately playful and serious take on piano music from the past 3 1/2 centuries, written for multiple players.

A program featuring music written delicately for a trio of players (a Rachmaninoff "Romance"), lightly for a duo (Milhaud's "Scaramouche") or patriotically for a full orchestra (Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture") played to the strengths of its various generations of performers. The only unsteady portion, a shaky transcription of Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," was easy for the four performers to play off; Viking helmets and an otherwise flawless performance did the trick.

With two performances behind it by Tuesday afternoon, the Strings Music Pavilion opened its doors to the public for a free open house. While a handful of community members toured the venue's new backstage area - musicians had a trailer near the Strings Tent - those close to the festival shared their thoughts on its new home.

"I can't even begin to put it into words," said Lindsey Early, who did office, marketing and advertising work for Strings from February 2005 to May 2006.

"I think even in comparison with some of the other venues I've been to, Aspen and Vail, I think this is richer than Vail. I think this has the essence of Strings," Early said.

Thomas Woods of TCD, who worked as the project superintendent on Pavilion's construction, said the space is a testament to the way the festival has developed with Steamboat Springs throughout the years.

"You can't miss it, and you want to be a part of it," Woods said of the venue. "I think it's going to serve this town for many, many years. And the musicians, now that they've seen it, they're going to want to play it."

Comments

addlip2U 6 years, 5 months ago

How sad that the new Strings pavilion has such an uncomfortable seating (same stackable chairs as were in the tent). Audience stick to each other while sweating away; the sun reflecting on the glass blinding us while trying to see the stage; the restrooms are (still) in a trailer, outside of the pavilion and the buzz from the drinking fountains disrupt the concert the audience is to enjoy! Oh, and one more thing: they made us enter through side entrance to the pavilion. What is the purpose of having the grand entrance where the view of the stage is blocked by the sound booth?

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Brian Smith 6 years, 5 months ago

Imagine that, another Steamboat local complaining...our community has become pretty negative, which is hard to believe for as beautiful as it is to live here. Instead of feeling like we are owed more, take what we have and be happy with it. Quit the moaning and groaning, this is NOT the worst place in the world to live like some make it out to be.

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Gadfly 6 years, 5 months ago

Amen, mtnsmith, and congratulations to Kay, Betse and all of those who dreamed and planned and worked their butts off to give us this new venue. Every new building will have its glitches, and this one is no exception, but they'll work them out. Encore!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 5 months ago

I haven't been in the new facility yet, but I am also surprised the seating isn't fixed-place, auditorium seating. Maybe it was due to ease of changing them out as wear & tear happen, or since they aren't susceptible to the fold-down seats squeaking during a performance. I can say for sure that while the seats may be the same style as the old ones from the tent, they are not the "same" chairs. They sold those off.

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scooter 6 years, 5 months ago

I thought this build was to come in at $2.8 million... That was their published budget. When does the cash (that doesn't exist) stop flowing around here? That's a heck of a lot of overage. Who is accountable???

And I'm not just talking about the Strings venue! The Justice center, Library, Community Center, and OTHS come to mind too.

It's a beautiful day!!!

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