Steamboat Symphony Orchestra offers a chance to meet the minds behind the music | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra offers a chance to meet the minds behind the music

Liz Forster

The Meet the Orchestra Series, an intimate chamber music recital played by select members of the Steamboat Strings Orchestra, returns Sunday with two principal musicians from the SSO accompanied by a “new music” pianist.

The recital will be presented at 7 p.m. Sunday by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council at the Depot Art Center. The event will showcase Gary Foss, principal clarinet and long-time member of the SSO, John Sant’Ambrogio, SSO's principal cello and founder of the Strings Music Festival, and acclaimed pianist Anatoly Larkin.

"This series is a way to connect more with the community," said Foss, who organized the recital. "The orchestra itself is a grand art form in which the one-on-one connection is sometimes lost. We want to bring a performance that allows the audience to feel the individual performers' passions that come together to form our larger orchestra."

The recital features six orchestral compositions with one intermission. They run in chronological order, so the audience can "hear how the music has progressed," according to Foss.

The pieces include Robert Schumann’s Intermezzo in Eb Minor, Johannes Brahms' Trio in A Minor for piano, cello and clarinet, Claude Debussy's Premiere Rhapsodie, Dmitri Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues, Gerald Finzi’s Five Bagatelles for clarinet and piano, and John Williams’ Viktor's Tale from the motion picture The Terminal.

In a small community like Steamboat, meeting the musicians is a way in which locals can celebrate Steamboat musicians.

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"The special thing about this orchestra is that it’s a homegrown thing," said Interim Director of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra Betse Grassby. "Twenty of the 40 to 50 players in the orchestra are locals, and most of the audience is locals who are very proud of their town's musicians."

Foss has lived in the Yampa Valley for 26 years, playing the clarinet with the SSO, with the Emerald City Opera and at the Strings Music Festival. He has a B.A. in music performance from Metropolitan State College and currently teaches private clarinet lessons.

The principal cello, Sant'Ambrogio, founded the SSO 24 years ago and was the first music director of the Strings Music Festival.

Sant'Ambrogio became principal cello of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1968 after playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for nine years. He has also served as principal cello in the Casal Festival in Puerto Rico, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Lancaster Festival in Ohio and the Seventh Army Symphony in Europe.

Although not a Steamboat local, Larkin has an extensive background in piano, having performed in Russia, Great Britain, and the United States. He has played piano with Zeitgeist, a new musical group, and worked with Zenph, a music technology company.

"One of the hard things to find in a smaller community is a really good pianist, especially one … willing to conquer the repertoire something like the Brahms piece," said Foss. "So when Anatoly called and offered to play a recital while he was visiting family in town, I got going on making this recital happen."

"Meet the Orchestra" is at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Art Depot Center. For more information, visit http://steamboatarts.org/meed-the-orchestra.

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