Jennie Dorris, of Denver, hits the timpani during a Steamboat Springs Orchestra practice Friday at Steamboat Springs High School. The group performs at 7:30 p.m. today at the Strings Music Pavilion.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Jennie Dorris, of Denver, hits the timpani during a Steamboat Springs Orchestra practice Friday at Steamboat Springs High School. The group performs at 7:30 p.m. today at the Strings Music Pavilion.

Orchestra season opens today

Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio to play concerto with her father

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Steamboat Orchestra

Ernest Richardson talks about his role with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra and how Taekwondo can help musicians.  Don't miss a great performance Sat. Sept 19th at the Strings Music Pavilion.

Ernest Richardson talks about his role with the Steamboat Springs Orchestra and how Taekwondo can help musicians. Don't miss a great performance Sat. Sept 19th at the Strings Music Pavilion.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Orchestra, season opening concert

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Strings Music Pavilion, Mount Werner and Pine Grove roads

Cost: $25 for adults and $10 for students

Call: 870-3223

Online: Learn more about the Steamboat Springs Orchestra's 2009-10 concert season at www.steamboarorch...>

— When violinist Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio arrived in Colorado on Wednesday, she and father/cellist John Sant' Ambrogio had about three days to rehearse a full-scale concerto they had never performed as a duo.

After a lifetime of playing music together, the father-daughter team was happy to find they interpreted almost every unmarked dynamic, stylistic measure and phrase the same way. The Sant'Ambrogios will give their first public performance of Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Cello to kick off the Steamboat Springs Orchestra's 2009-10 season.

Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio is the guest soloist for SSO's season-opening concert, which is at 7:30 p.m. today at Strings Music Pavilion. Tickets are $25 at the door for adults and $10 for students.

"There's no question that a culture has come up through our family. : Our approach is similar (and) we've had a lot of the same training," John Sant'Ambrogio said. That culture helped the Vivaldi concerto come together quickly, the Sant'Ambrogios said.

"It's sort of like we're having a conversation, and everyone else is participating, too, but also listening. : The orchestra comments on what we've just said, so to speak, and there's a lot of interplay and dialogue, which I find exciting," Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio said.

Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio - who teaches violin at the University of Nevada, Reno, spent 13 years as concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony and founded the Cactus Pear Music Festival - is featured on the first half of today's concert. Her program includes the Vivaldi concerto; Schubert's Konzertstuck for Violin in D Major, a piece for solo violin and orchestra; and Fritz Kreisler's Tambourin Chinois, a piece the violinist/composer wrote to show off his virtuosity.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 anchors the second half of the program. Steamboat Springs Orchestra Music Director Ernest Richardson describes the symphony, commissioned while Beethoven was in the midst of writing his iconic Symphony No. 5, as "one of the most joyful pieces (Beethoven) ever wrote."

This is the orchestra's third fully programmed season. In the past several years, the ensemble has shifted from a volunteer community group to a professional organization that continues to feature mostly local musicians. The 2009-10 season features orchestral standards including Mozart's Symphony No. 40 and Dvorak's "New World Symphony." Eroica Trio cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio - the younger of the two Sant'Ambrogio daughters - is scheduled to play a winter soiree event and community concert with the Steamboat orchestra in February.

"What we're doing over the course of several years is really introducing the orchestra in the standard orchestral repertoire," Richardson said. The process builds a foundation for the orchestra's members and prepares audiences for later, heftier pieces in the classical canon, he said.

In addition to keeping concert programs accessible for listeners, going through the classics in a concert season also helps characterize the Steamboat Springs Orchestra, Richardson said.

"What it's really doing is defining the sound of this orchestra and defining our approach to orchestral music," he said.

Richardson said Steamboat Springs Orchestra concerts are family-friendly, with an estimated 90-minute run time and concert breaks where Richardson talks about each piece.

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