Strings names guest directors

Longtime festival performers take classical helm

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— Bringing 14 years of experience as a Strings Music Festival performer, violinist Andres Cárdenes will take over as co-music director for the festival's 2009 season.

Cárdenes will be joined in the festival's classical music direction and programming by his wife, Monique Mead, who is known for her innovations in youth classical music education. Kay Clagett, executive director for Strings, said the couple stood out for their connection to the festival and its mission.

"He (Cárdenes) is intimately familiar with the festival and the quality of the music that we program; he's familiar with the Steamboat community and what the community musically likes to hear. It was really just a logical and wonderful choice for us to make," Clagett said.

"Monique (Mead) has a very large international career with youth music education, and that really dovetails beautifully with one of our focuses for the future, so it was a very natural, logical choice," she continued.

The couple shares two decades of experience in chamber and other classical formats; Cárdenes has served as the artistic director and conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra since 1999, and Mead founded Germany's Klassik for Kids program while regularly appearing with ensembles throughout that country. Clagett said she hopes Mead's experience with music education will complement the youth programming Strings already offers.

"Our youth programs are pretty solid right now, but we always would like to do more and work more with the school systems and work with the younger children : and that's a very strong suit of Monique's," Clagett said.

Among his recent experience with the festival, the Grammy-nominated Cárdenes served as conductor for Strings' 2008 "Beethoven!" classical finale, leading the largest orchestra to ever appear on the Strings Music Festival stage. Cárdenes and Mead's first programming projects for Strings will be the Dec. 28 holiday gala concert featuring the Carnegie Mellon Trio - of which Cárdenes is a member - and the Dec. 29 holiday youth concert.

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