- "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
Steamboat Springs 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."