The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club might create virtuosos on the snow, but another nonprofit in town is doing the same on a different playing field.
Focusing on woodwinds instead of cardio and soaring melodies instead of soaring off jumps, the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra quietly is cultivating star youth performers. For proof, look no further than its 20th anniversary performance this year. Former student Patrick Williams, who now studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, opened the show, and it concluded with a performance by Anna Roder, who studied under Concertmaster Teresa Steffen Greenlee and is studying at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
“Both of their talent was nurtured by local SSO music teachers,” orchestra Marketing Director Joyce Hartless says. “We’ve cultivated quite a following here.”
That’s not to say that Steamboat’s young musicians don’t partake in more conventional Ski Town USA pastimes. Several orchestra students also participate in the Winter Sports Club, including Lark Skov, Melissa Requist and Maude Gerber. Local Willy Gunn also is a former Winter Sports Club protege. (The orchestra pays tribute to the Winter Sports Club at a Feb. 10 concert.)
“It is amazing to see the breadth and depth of the talent here,” orchestra Executive Director Lou Mathews says. “Whether training for the Olympics or performing in a famous concert hall, it takes a high degree of dedication and coaching tutelage. Most often, there’s an organization behind the scenes putting the two together.” Adds orchestra board President Jeff Wolf: “Steamboat’s Winter Sports Club trains winter athletes to compete at the highest level, and the same can be said for Steamboat’s symphony.”
While skiing and symphonies might seem octaves apart, the dedication and discipline required to succeed at each is the same. “My violin teacher, Teresa (Steffen Greenlee) once told me that, ‘Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice does,’” local youth violinist Skov says. “I think about that when I’m practicing Nordic skiing. No matter the skill, it takes consistent effort.”
And no one is happier about this than local parents. “Melissa has been in (Winter Sports Club) for nine years and has played the flute for five,” Carolyn Requist says about her 15-year-old daughter. “She’s a real product of this town. The genes sure didn’t come from her parents.”