Ernest Richardson, music director of the Steamboat Springs Orchestra, will lead the group in four full-scale concerts and two smaller performances during the ensemble's 2009-10 season. The season opens with a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Strings Music Pavilion. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door for adults, and $10 for youths.

Photo by John F. Russell

Ernest Richardson, music director of the Steamboat Springs Orchestra, will lead the group in four full-scale concerts and two smaller performances during the ensemble's 2009-10 season. The season opens with a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Strings Music Pavilion. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door for adults, and $10 for youths.

Steamboat Springs Orchestra tunes up for season

Guest artists, classic selections highlight 6-concert schedule

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2009-10 Steamboat Springs Orchestra Schedule

- Sept. 19 - Season opening concert: Violinist Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio joins her father, Steamboat Springs resident and former St. Louis Symphony Orchestra principal cellist John Sant'Ambrogio, for Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Cello. The program also includes Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, Schubert's Konzertstuck (for Violin and Orchestra) in D Major and Kreisler's Tambourin Chinois. 7:30 p.m. at Strings Music Pavilion.

- Dec.4, 5 and 6 - Holiday concert: Orchestra members join singers from Mountain Madrigal Singers and Yampa Valley Singers for holiday-themed favorites. Mozart's Symphony No. 40 anchors the program. Performances are at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 in Craig, and 8 p.m. Dec. 5 and 3 p.m. Dec. 6 at Steamboat Christian Center.

- Feb. 20 - Winter Soiree: Grammy Award-winning cellist and Eroica Trio member Sara Sant'Ambrogio plays selections from her most recent recordings, accompanied by local pianist Marie Carmichael, at 6 p.m. in the Bud Werner Memorial Library performance hall.

- Feb. 21 - Community concert: A program featuring cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio includes Corelli's Concerto Grosso in D Major; Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor; and Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major. Preformance at 3 p.m. at Steamboat Christian Center.

- March 27 and 28 - Spring concert: Dvorak's "New World Symphony" anchors the spring concert program. Performances are at 7 p.m. March 27 in Craig and 3 p.m. March 28 in Steamboat, location TBD.

Tickets for the opening, holiday, community and spring concerts are $20 in advance and $25 at the door for adults, and $10 for youths. The Winter Soiree concert is $125 per person. An Oct. 14 event at Harwigs/L'Apogee, including food and wine, is $150 per person.

The orchestra offers four season ticket packages: A package including admission to the opening, holiday, community and spring concerts is $55 for adults and $25 for youths. The silver package, which also includes admission to the Winter Soiree, is $175. The gold package, which includes all concerts, the Harwigs event and a special reception, is $355.

Tickets for the Sept. 19 season opening concert are available in advance at All That Jazz, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Vino, the orchestra office and www.steamboatorch... for $20. Season passes and advance tickets to all events are available at the orchestra office and www.steamboatorch...>

Call 870-3223 for more information, or visit the orchestra office at 1885 Elk River Plaza, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays.

— The Steamboat Springs Orchestra moves into its 2009-10 season with six performances, an expanded youth orchestra program and a new series of post-concert, limited-seating lectures.

SSO opens its concert season Sept. 19 with a performance featuring nationally renowned violinist Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio and her father, Steamboat Springs resident and SSO cellist John Sant'Ambrogio.

"It's really becoming a major community orchestra of a quality approaching Strings (Music Festival) and everything else that's going on," said Jeffrey Wolf, chairman of the orchestra's development committee. Of the orchestra's 55 or so performers, about 50 are local musicians, board members said.

The orchestra has transitioned into a professionally functioning ensemble in the past few years, led by Front Range-based music director Ernest Richardson. Steamboat Springs Orchestra is not affiliated with Strings Music Festival, though the group's first concert is at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Strings Music Pavilion, said Lou Mathews, director of development, special events and marketing for SSO.

Additional concerts are scheduled for Oct. 14 at Harwigs/L'Apogee; Dec. 5 and 6 at Steamboat Christian Center; Feb. 20 at Bud Werner Memorial Library; Feb. 21 at Steamboat Christian Center; and March 28 at a to-be-determined location.

"We're trying to select venues that are appropriate for each concert and : reach the greatest number of audience members," said Bonnie McGee, president of the orchestra board of directors.

Concert programming features several mainstays in classical orchestral repertoire, including Mozart's Symphony No. 40 and Dvorak's "New World Symphony." Featured artists this season include SSO concertmaster Teresa Steffen Greenlee; SSO principal cellist John Sant'Ambrogio; and his daughters, violinist Stephanie and cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio.

The orchestra's youth program, led by SSO violinist Bonnie Murray, is expanding this year through a partnership with Steamboat Springs band director James Knapp, board members said.

A series of "encounter" lectures, featuring music director Richardson and select musicians, will be held after each season concert. The first is a brunch at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 20 and is hosted by Rick Erb and Susan Sonnenschein; admission is $80.

Organizational changes

After orchestra musicians volunteered to play without pay to close the 2008-09 season, the SSO board has done some "belt-tightening," McGee said.

Volunteers have taken some work that once belonged to part-time paid positions, she said. Sally Williams, who served as the orchestra's office manager, has expanded her duties to become production manager. A volunteer produces the orchestra's new monthly electronic newsletter, and the number of paid positions has been reduced and their responsibilities have been consolidated, McGee said.

The goal is to cover the group's costs without increasing ticket prices, she said. The average SSO concert costs $20,000 to $25,000 to produce, she said. Adult tickets for those concerts are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

A fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to cover the difference between costs and revenues runs from the first concert Sept. 19 through the last holiday concert Dec. 6, board members said.

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